Style, Ethics, and Corrections Guide


Code of Ethics

Style Guide for Writers and Editors

Diversity and Journalism

Corrections Policy

Code of Ethics

In our work to increase public understanding of science, we collaborate with reputable scientists and uphold the highest possible standards of scientific and journalistic integrity. We do not sensationalize, cherry-pick, or misrepresent the research reports. We do not report pseudoscience or mistake correlation for causation. We source peer-reviewed academic journals and strive to uphold the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics

Style Guide for Writers and Editors

Last Updated January 2021

Science Connected Magazine is a non-profit newsroom producing open-access science journalism and scientific fact-checking for the global public. We work to increase science literacy and public access to reliable information.

General Editorial Policies

  1. Science Connected Magazine translates complex research findings into accessible insights on science, nature, and society.
  2. We publish articles that are:
    1. about animals, archaeology, astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, citizen science, engineering, environment, geology, health, oceanography, paleontology, physics, science and art, science policy, technology, or other life sciences and physical sciences
    2. between approximately 700 and 900 words in length (short form), or between 900 and 2,500 words in length (long form);
    3. explanations of research papers that have been published in an academic peer-reviewed journal or a scientific society’s official report, or that have been presented at an academic conference, or something comparable;
    4. about positive, solution-based research; that is, articles that not only explain a problem but also present useful information and solutions for readers (such as how to reduce one’s carbon footprint) or good news to look forward to (such as less expensive solar energy or honeybee survival);
    5. based on press releases which are not overly self-congratulatory or speculatory, and which do actually report research findings;
    6. about studies that are based on valid research (to make sure a study is valid, here is a fun rough guide to types of scientific evidence);
    7. about pop-science and citizen-science topics, if deemed to be of sufficient interest to the community of readers; may include artistic representations of scientific concepts, informative photos and descriptions, or cool tech applications.
  3. We do not publish:
    1. political or partisan content;
    2. anything that contravenes our equal-opportunity policy;
    3. studies that merely promote a company with something to sell, such as the findings of a paid trial for a new medical product;
    4. any commercial links or content.

House Style

  1. Our editorial style is based primarily on the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) for matters of grammar, punctuation, and usage. For expressing numbers and measurements, we generally follow the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th edition). We embrace both sources’ guidelines for using clear, concise language and for avoiding biased or otherwise problematic language.
  2. Our editorial staff reviews all articles before publication to ensure consistency with our house style. Writers have the opportunity to discuss proposed revisions.

Style Points

  1. For clarity, use simple sentence structures and plain English.
    • home rather than abode
    • after rather than subsequent to
    • if rather than in the event that
  2. Be as concise as possible by eliminating unnecessary words and repetition.
    • Researchers found that… rather than It was discovered during the study by those who conducted the study that
  3. Aim for objectivity and balance. Do not express a personal view, explicitly or implicitly, unless the article is clearly defined at the beginning as an opinion piece.
  4. Avoid any biased language (sexism, racism, or other forms of prejudice). Most biased language can be avoided by not making generalizations about human behavior.
  5. Use humor with caution. It is only appropriate in op-ed or personal essay pieces. Making a joke can undermine the credibility of the article, and what is funny to the writer may not be so to all readers.
  6. Avoid using words and phrases that are not scientific or are not in common use.
  7. Operationally define scientific terminology as needed.

Spelling, Vocabulary, and Reading Level

  1. Since 2019, the magazine has been written exclusively in American English. Punctuation will be edited to Chicago Manual of Style standards.
  2. All American English must follow Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition) for preferred spelling and definitions.
  3. To make the text accessible to a large number of readers, we aim for approximately American school grades 9–13 reading levels. A rough approximation is fine; however, if you think an article might be too difficult to read and want to check (or just want to know more about reading level calculations), the Flesch–Kincaid readability test is a good way to quantify what you are reading.

Punctuation, Symbols, and Numbers

  1. Basic punctuation guidelines
    1. Use the serial comma before the final conjunction in a series.
      • The colors of the American flag are red, white, and blue.
    2. One space follows the ending punctuation mark of a sentence.
    3. Use parentheses, question marks, and exclamation marks only sparingly.
  2. Avoiding symbols
    1. Use words rather than symbols in prose.
      • or rather than a slash (/)
      • and rather than an ampersand (&)
      • percent rather than the percent sign (%)
    2. Be aware that some less common symbols might not carry over well from your original document into the online publishing format (your editor can check on this).
  3. Expressing numbers
    1. Use numerals for numbers 10 and higher; numbers immediately preceding units of measurement; numbers representing exact quantities or percentages; and numbers displaying time, money, or points on a scale.
      • measuring 75 cm in length
      • found that only 9 percent of the animals had reproduced
      • experiment took 45 minutes to complete
    2. Spell out numbers under 10 except as noted above; numbers used as words; numbers that begin a sentence, title, or heading; and numbers in common fractions.
      • In those two countries
      • people of the First Nations
      • Fourteen of these species
      • decided by a two-thirds majority
    3. Combine numerals and words to avoid confusion of numbers in close proximity, as well as to write large, round numbers.
      • two 5-kg cats
      • 4 million


  1. Quotations should be pertinent and must always be clearly attributed.
  2. Use the present tense to describe the speaking/writing action of the person being quoted:
    • Researcher Name explains, “This experiment was the first of its kind, so no one knew what to expect.”
    • “These results should have a profound effect on the study of botany,” says Researcher Name.
  3. Give the quoted person’s full name at first mention; use just the last name thereafter (titles such as “Dr.” are not necessary).
  4. Use a comma when introducing a one-sentence quotation that remains within a paragraph. Use a colon when introducing longer quotations that remain within a paragraph, or at the end of a paragraph that introduces a new paragraph of quoted material.
  5. Quotations more than five lines long will be highlighted as block quotes. Use these sparingly. A very long quotation (more than 50 words) should only be used if it is engaging and relevant. Otherwise, please paraphrase.
  6. Quotations should always be given verbatim. If a speaker lacks clarity, paraphrase instead of quoting, using important elements of the original quotation in a run-in quotation (introductory punctuation not usually required).
    • Scientist’s Name, the lead researcher for this study, warns that climate change would “irreparably destroy the ecosystem” of this region.
  7. Place punctuation at the end of a direct quotation inside the final quotation mark, unless the sentence continues after the quotation.

Citations and References

  1. Include a list of references at the end of your article. Title it References. These should be primary sources—not blogs, opinion sites, Wikipedia pages, or commercial sites. If you include a hyperlink in this list, whether within one of the references or as a separate source, make sure the link goes to a page that can be accessed for free; we cannot publish any links to sources behind paywalls.
  2. Reference lists at the end of articles must be in APA 7 format. See this APA resource for formatting advice or consult the APA 7 style manual. (Note that online automatic citation generators often result in incorrect formatting.)
    1. Do not link to a journal article behind a paywall; provide just the reference instead.
      • Badel, L., Ohta, K., Tsuchimoto, Y., & Kazama, H. (2016). Decoding of context-dependent olfactory behavior in Drosophila. Neuron, 91(1), 155–167.
    2. Include a link for a journal article that is free to read (also known as “open access”).
  3. Citations, affiliations, sources, and so forth may be handled differently in different kinds of articles; see guidelines and examples below.
    1. Summary of a scientific paper: Mention the professional affiliation of the key researchers near the beginning of your article. To avoid confusion, refer to them as “researchers,” “scientists,” or other appropriate terms, rather than as “authors,” since they’re not the authors of your article. However, be sure to use proper attribution. See this overview of the differences between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Use a final paragraph to disclose the name of the academic journal or conference, as well as any sources of funding. If the original source is available for free online, provide a link to it.
    2. Photo essay: This is usually a first-person narrative without citations.
    3. Opinion-editorial (op-ed) piece: These usually rely on the author’s own research and expertise. To streamline user experience, we do not usually include citation numbers within the text. If you have sources other than your own work, list them in a final section titled either References or References and Further Reading.
    4. Expert discussion piece: Same as op-ed piece. References are optional.
    5. Combination of scientific paper and consumer tech: Our readers love scientific discoveries that are in the process of being developed into awesome consumer products! List references, links, or resources as needed.
    6. Other: Contact your editor for advice.

Image Rights, Captions, and Credits

  1. Photographs and scientific illustrations usually have captions.
  2. Generic or artistic illustrations do not usually need captions.
  3. If we don’t own an image, it must be followed by the copyright holder’s attribution. Even if a copyright holder waives the right to a photo credit, we give one as a professional courtesy.
  4. We can embed a YouTube video that is published under the Standard YouTube License without express permission from the copyright owner. However, we like to reach out to the owner as a professional courtesy. 
  5. Please include any captions or attributions with your submitted article so that they can be edited along with the rest of the text. 
  6. Watch out for images having insufficient copyright information or lacking clear ownership. Even images found on Wikimedia Commons are not always safe to use. Science Connected has been a target for malicious lawsuits, so we must be diligent. If there is any question about an image, flag or remove it.

Diversity and Journalism

  1. Reporting on issues involving race and gender calls for thoughtful consideration, precise language, and an openness to discussions with others of diverse backgrounds about how to frame coverage or what language is most appropriate, accurate and fair. As our culture grows and conversations evolve, these can be moving targets. Avoid broad generalizations and labels; race and ethnicity are one part of a person’s identity and may or may not be pertinent to the scientific research being discussed.
  2. Please check the resources below for assistance with writing about age, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ terminology, gender, religion, etc. 
    1. Diversity Style Guide 
    2. Associated Press Stylebook on Race-Related Coverage
    3. The Association of LGBTQ Journalists Stylebook on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Terminology

Corrections Policy

  1. Science Connected Magazine Corrections Policy:
    1. Corrections are an important part of news journalism. Transparency is a core value of Science Connected. We have internal editors and fact-checkers doing everything in our power to avoid publishing mistakes, but sometimes they happen, so we are committed to correcting them openly and honestly.
  2. When to issue a correction
    1. Corrections are issued for errors of fact — not misspellings, typos, or broken links. If you notice one of those in your article, notify your editor. These issues are rare, as they are usually caught by the copy editors prior to publication.
    2. There is no need to apologize for a correction. It is simply a statement.
  3. Correction or update?
    1. Updates can be appended to an article to reflect important new, relevant  information that has come to light since publication. Corrections are for mistakes.
  4. How to write a correction
    1. Verify your information! If you have to issue a correction, make sure it is, in fact, correct. Having to later correct a correction is sloppy journalism.
    2. If the error was brought to your attention by a reader, a person or organization mentioned in the article, or other party, be sure to thank them via the channel through which they reached out to you. For example, if they contact you via Twitter, tag them in a thank you response.
    3. If you need to issue a correction, draft it and email it to your editor.
    4. A correction should be appended to the end of a previously-published article. Briefly restate the error and provide the corrected information. Examples follow.
  5. Sample correction statements
    1. [Person]’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.
    2. Blue Cross’s CEO could not be reached for comment. An earlier version of this post said Blue Cross’s CFO could not be reached for comment.
    3. The Skin Deep Database supplies hazard ratings for some 70,000 items. A previous version of this article misstated the number.