Thank you for your interest in contributing to Evo Bites! To start off, please read the following, which discusses what pieces to the site should look like and be about.
What is Evo Bites? The goal of Evo Bites is to “digest” primary literature in evolutionary biology into something an educated layperson can understand. It is loosely based on the format of our sister site astrobites.com.
What should you write about? Anything related to evolutionary biology, as long as you are confident that you have a good understanding of the primary article (and research field it discusses) that you have chosen. Writing about fields that are related to evolutionary biology, such as evolutionary anthropology or paleontology, is welcome, so long as the article is still clearly relevant to evolution and biology.
How should you write your article? Be clear, engaging, and avoid jargon, but without overly simplifying–no small task! Getting the science right is the most important thing, but of course, making people actually want to read your piece is crucial too. We find that practice is the best way to learn how to write for a lay audience–and we will help you with this–but reading really good science writing helps too.
Can I write an article whenever I want? Yes! However, the speed at which edits will be returned to you will depend on the current backlog of posts and availability of editors.
How should you format your article? Follow the example of the articles already on the site. Generally, articles should be about 500-800 words, and written at the level of an undergraduate biology major. If you can’t avoid using jargon, make sure to explain it. You may also choose to include a figure or two from the original paper, although make sure that the figure adds something to your piece, and that Evo Bites can legally use the image (see Rights and Permissions below).
How do I choose an article from the primary literature?
- Write about articles that cover real natural phenomena. This means that review articles and perspective-style articles are likely a poor fit. In order to avoid providing any false impressions of where the field currently is, try to find papers that reflect the field’s current understanding. Newer papers are more likely to do this, although older papers are fine so long as they fit this criterion.
- Stick with papers and topics that you understand. You will probably be most comfortable in your own field, but you are free to write about any paper that you can comprehend critically.
- Note that open access articles are convenient because readers can access the original articles and it is automatically legal for Evo Bites to reproduce the figures. However, we understand that most biological research is not open access, and you should feel free to pick any paper that you feel confident writing about.
Rights and permissions: We need permission to reproduce other people’s work, unless it is freely available to anyone to use.
- Figures: If you want to use a figure from an article, make sure that we can reproduce the figure you want to use for free. This is always the case for figures and images from open access articles. Usually you check this by looking for a link titled “Rights and Permissions” on the HTML version of the article (here’s an example of where that will take you). Follow the link and get a quote for the reproduction of one figure on an educational, not-for-profit website. If it’s not free, we can’t use it. In that case, either make a figure yourself or use Creative Commons licensed images to make up for it.
- Images: Images must either be your own original work, reproduced with permission from the creator, or available under a Creative Commons license. In all cases, we have to list the source when we reproduce the image. An easy way to find appropriate pictures is to do a Google Image search, click on “Tools”, “Usage rights”, and then “Labeled for reuse with modification”. All images on Wikimedia Commons can be used. There are often appropriate images on Flickr as well; just make sure to check the permissions.
What does the editing process look like? Catherine and Emily are the Editors-in-Chief for the site, and retain final say over everything published on Evo Bites. We, or an assigned editor, will edit your piece for content, as well as copy edit it for grammar, flow, clarity, etc. You should expect 2-3 rounds of edits. Note that your editor may not be an expert in the same field as the paper you have chosen to write about, so it is crucial that you read the paper you select critically, and if needed, do some outside research.
Alright! I’m ready to get started:
- Select a paper and write your piece! No need to pitch it to us beforehand, although we are happy to discuss ideas and appropriate papers via email if you want.
- Find some images that we can use for your piece, and include them in the piece, or indicate where they should go. Putting their links directly into the article along with the caption you want is easiest. If you made the image yourself, upload it into the document. Make sure images are fairly high resolution.
- If you have a favorite image that you want to be the featured image (the big image above each article) of your post, it should have dimensions of 300 x 900 pixels or greater.
- If you have any hyperlinks, go ahead and insert them to make it easier for editors.
- Put your article in a Google Drive document.
- Get the shareable link of this document by clicking “Share” in the top right-hand corner, and “Get shareable link”. Make sure the settings are such that “Anyone with the link can edit” so your editor will be able to make edits and comments.
- Email your link to us and we’ll contact you shortly.