By Peggy Thomas
You do not have to be a scientist to write science stories for kids. My background is in anthropology, yet I’ve written about the brain, artificial intelligence, animal behavior, natural history, bacteriology, volcanology and lots of other -ologies. All you need to know is where to find the accurate information that is essential to the genre.
I avoid internet sources that have tons of pop-ups, lack an “about” page or any other verifiable identity. I do, however, love to cruise the weird but true and top ten lists on my newsfeed, but only for story ideas. My go-to reliable sources include Scientific American, National Geo, Smithsonian, Science News, and of course journal articles.
Did you know all scientific journals are not equal? There are some journals that are considered predatory. Scientists pay to be included, and there is not much peer review going on. Beall’s List, https://beallslist.net/, names many of these predatory journals, as does the website: predatoryjournals.com/journals/
Journals that are published by Wiley, PLOS, Elsevier, Sage, and Taylor & Frances are peer-reviewed and every article has to meet certain standards. You can always rely on Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, American Academy for the Advancement of Science, PLOS (Public Library of Science) and New England Journal of Medicine, just to name a few.
Many of these journals charge a hefty fee, so utilize your college libraries and public libraries to get access, because it stinks when you find the paper you need but can’t read it. Sometimes you can check on Google Scholar to see if there is a PDF available, or look on the researcher’s website. Better still, ask the author. They are usually more than happy to share their work, and you’ve opened the door for a possible interview in the future.
Peggy Thomas is the author of Lincoln Clears a Path (Calkins Creek)
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