Apply to Write for Astrobites!

Astrobites is seeking new graduate students to join the Astrobites collaboration. The application form is now live!


Please share the information below with your graduate student colleagues. Applicants must be current graduate students. The application is due by November 20, 2020 by midnight in your timezone. You can find the application form here. Please check out our FAQs below and/or email us at hiring@astrobites.org if you have any questions. Come join us!

Application Details:

  • Deadline: November 20th, 2020 at midnight in your timezone
  • Required information: (1) One sample Astrobite and (2) one short essay describing why you want to write for Astrobites and how you hope to contribute to our collaboration, all of which can be submitted here.
  • All Masters and PhD students interested in research related to astronomy and astrophysics are encouraged to apply. We aim to cover a wide variety of research topics from a diverse set of perspectives. Individuals from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply. If you are passionate about sharing the latest research in astronomy and astrophysics and enjoy writing, we want to hear from you! Astrobites is also about more than writing: you can work with the collaboration on diversity initiatives, help expand the reach of Astrobites through advertising and discussing how to use it in the classroom, and more.
  • Astrobites is a volunteer collaboration and does not offer compensation. The benefits of joining our team include public outreach (disseminating journal articles to a wider audience), professional development (reading papers, writing, editing, and possibly leading committees), and networking through work with people from institutions worldwide and through AAS.
  • Applications are reviewed anonymously. Please do not include your name, affiliation, or other identifying information in your short essays or sample Astrobite.

Sample Post Guidelines

Your Astrobite should summarize a published astronomy or astrophysics journal article that is at least three months old and has not been featured on Astrobites. (Note: This is different from our usual posts, which typically cover very recent papers.) Do not write about one of your own papers or one from your immediate group. Your post should discuss the necessary background, motivation, methods, results, and conclusions of the paper. Title your sample Astrobite as you would title a post on the site.

Please write at a level appropriate for undergraduate physics or astronomy majors. Effective Astrobites avoid jargon and thoroughly yet succinctly explain unfamiliar concepts. We encourage you to provide links to previous Astrobites or to other websites, where appropriate. Your sample post should include at least one figure from the paper with an appropriate caption that relates it to your post (i.e., not the original caption from the paper). Astrobites are usually between 500-800 words in length, and your post should definitely not exceed 1000 words. We suggest you read a few published Astrobites by different authors to get a sense how posts are written.

Your sample Astrobite will be scored against the following five elements:

  1. Description of the paper’s context and background
  2. Description of key results and takeaways from the paper
  3. Relevance of plots chosen and quality of your figure captions
  4. Explanations of key terms, avoiding jargon, and appropriate use of links
  5. Overall flow of the Astrobite, hook, and use of creative elements to help make the science more understandable and more exciting to the audience

Author Responsibilities

Authors write one Astrobite each month and edit another author’s Astrobite once per month.

Writing an Astrobite typically takes about 6 hours (on average) for experienced authors, which includes selecting and carefully reading a paper. It takes somewhat longer for new authors. Editing another author’s Astrobite usually takes less than 30 minutes. Some of us also spend time arranging for guest posts, representing Astrobites at conferences, working with various committees (see Astrobites committees here), and maintaining the website. These activities are optional, so new Astrobiters can choose how much time they would like to devote to the collaboration. Authors typically write for two years, but this can be adjusted on an individual basis.


The Hiring Process

The hiring committee will review submissions based on the quality of the sample Astrobites and the response to the short essay question (accounting for 67% and 33% of the total score, respectively). The names and affiliations of the applicants will be concealed from application reviewers until after the final list of candidates is selected. Our reviewers will look for characteristics of an Astrobite such as a clear synthesis of the key findings of a paper, a description of the paper’s context at a level appropriate for advanced undergraduate students, and the explanations of the plots chosen. They will not focus on grammar, as that can be easily fixed in an editing process (see full scoring criteria above). 

The application also includes a brief demographics survey about the applicant’s background and identities. We encourage applicants to participate in this optional survey, so that we at Astrobites can further understand our applicants’ backgrounds and ensure diversity among the Astrobites team. Note that all applications will still be reviewed anonymously. The demographics data will only be used in order to assess any bias that might be present in our hiring processes, as we aim to attract applicants that reflect at least the diversity of our readership, and select new authors such that the diversity of our writers reflects at least that of our applicants. If we find that our selection falls significantly short of representing the diversity of our applicant pool revealing potential bias in our hiring process, we will use demographics to inform a second round of review to ensure that we combat those biases.

Upon submitting the complete application, applicants will receive a confirmation email. Hiring decisions will be sent out approximately one month after the application deadline. Regardless of whether an applicant is selected to write for Astrobites, submitted sample Astrobites may be posted on Astrobites as guest posts (with the applicant’s permission). The post author will work with a current author to make any edits needed before the submission is posted.  


FAQs: How to apply

  • Where do I submit my application? Fill in this form (or click on the button anywhere on this page)
  • When are applications due? All applications are due by the end of the day (in your timezone) on Friday, November 20th, 2020.
  • What does the application involve? There are several required elements:
    • Some basic information about you (your name, email, where you are a student, etc.)
    • A sample Astrobite post (see instructions above)
    • A short essay on why you want to write for Astrobites and what you hope to bring to the collaboration (400 words max)
    • In addition to the required elements above, there is also a demographics survey at the end of the application. This is not a required element and your application will be reviewed if you leave it blank, but we encourage applicants to participate in the survey so that we at Astrobites can further understand our applicants’ backgrounds and ensure diversity among the Astrobites team
  • Do I have to answer the questions in the demographics survey at the end of the application? No. Applications will be scored anonymously and regardless of whether the demographic survey was completed. Demographic information will be used internally to assess bias in our hiring processes, as we aim to attract applicants that reflect at least the diversity of our readership, and select new authors such that the diversity of our writers reflects at least that of our applicants. If we find that our selection falls significantly short of representing the diversity of our applicant pool, revealing potential bias in our hiring process, we will use demographics to inform a second round of review to ensure that we combat those biases.

FAQs: Who can apply

  • Who can apply to write for Astrobites? All graduate students in astronomy and astrophysics may apply, as well as graduate students from other disciplines whose research is related to astronomy or space in some way. We aim to cover a wide variety of research topics from a diverse set of perspectives. Individuals from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply. If you are passionate about sharing the latest research in astronomy and astrophysics and enjoy writing, we want to hear from you!
  • I am not a native English speaker, should I apply? Yes! We are very excited to increase the global reach of Astrobites. We have also started putting together multi-lingual Astrobites posts (example here) and if you speak a language other than English, you are welcome to write your bite in both your native language and English (though it is fully optional). Minor grammar mistakes are the easiest thing for an editor to correct — we are more interested in writing that can clearly explain scientific ideas, even if it is not grammatically perfect!
  • I am a graduate student in physics / planetary science. Can I apply? Yes, we have had plenty of authors in both physics and planetary science. It is probably helpful if your research is related to astronomy or space in some way, but we have even had a graduate student in Creative Nonfiction as a regular author.
  • I am a Masters student / I just started graduate school. Can I apply to be a regular Astrobites author? Yes! 
  • I’m in my last year of graduate school, can I apply? Yes! Writers are accepted through their last year in graduate school, and may stay on for two years regardless of graduate school status.
  • I am a post-doc. Can I apply to be a regular Astrobites author? No, but you can submit a guest post. Here are examples of guest posts by post-docs: (1) Galaxy Zoo, (2) Astronomy Sound of the Month.
  • I am an undergraduate. Can I apply to be a regular Astrobites author? Nope, but you can submit a summary of your research either through a short undergrad post (example here) or through a longer research experience summary (example here).
  • I applied last year and got rejected. Can I apply again? Yes, but please submit a new sample Astrobite.
  • I want to write for Astrobites, but not in English. Is that possible? Yes. In addition to Astrobites in English, we have sister sites in Spanish (Astrobitos, which is currently hiring), Portuguese (Astropontos), Persian (Staryab), and Arabic (ArAStrobites). You are welcome to apply to write for them, but note they have separate application processes with different deadlines. Contact them directly for more information. We also accept dual-language guest posts for Astrobites if your language isn’t represented among the sister sites — get in touch with us and we can match you with an English editor!

FAQs: Preparing your sample Astrobite

  • What does a sample Astrobite look like? Astrobites are usually between 500-800 words in length, and your post should definitely not exceed 1000 words. Your post should discuss the motivation, methods, results, and conclusions of the paper. It should include at least one figure from the paper with an appropriate caption (not the original caption). You may also include figures from outside the paper. Title your sample Astrobite as you would title a post on the site. We suggest you read a few published Astrobites by different authors to get a sense how posts are written.
  • Which paper should I pick to write about? Your Astrobite should summarize a published astronomy or astrophysics journal article that is at least three months old and has not been featured on Astrobites. (Note: This is different from our usual posts, which typically cover very recent papers.)
  • Why do I have to pick a paper from more than three months ago? / Can I write about a more recent paper? We include this as a requirement to avoid the possibility of a current author writing a post about the same paper while you are preparing your application. If you are unsure about a specific paper, please send us an email to hiring@astrobites.org.
  • Who should be able to understand my sample Astrobite? Astrobite posts are directed at undergraduates in astronomy (and related fields), and are intended to help undergraduates learn how to read research papers. Effective Astrobites avoid jargon and thoroughly yet succinctly explain unfamiliar concepts.
  • Should I include links in my sample Astrobite like in a normal Astrobite? Yes. We encourage you to provide links to previous Astrobites or other websites where appropriate. In most cases, the links should not be too technical in nature.
  • Do the figures in my application post have to be taken from the paper? Not necessarily. Often, other figures can help explain the topic of the paper (see this post, and this other post for examples). You can also annotate a figure from the paper (e.g. here) or take part of a figure (e.g. see here) if it’s not exactly what you want.
  • Can someone else look over my sample Astrobite? Yes! In fact, we recommend having a friend or colleague provide comments and suggestions before you submit your application.

FAQs: Application review process

  • When will I hear back? You will receive an email confirming we have received your application within 48 hours of submission. We will begin processing and reviewing applications immediately following the application deadline. Candidates will be notified about the hiring committee’s decision approximately one month after the application deadline (i.e., mid-December).
  • Will my demographic information be visible to the people reviewing my application? The only people with access to the demographic data are the Astrobites hiring coordinators who do not evaluate any of the individual applications. The first round of application review will be fully anonymized and will not include any demographic information. If, after reviewing the results of this first round, we find that our hiring processes have significant biases, we will use aggregated demographic information (without associating any specific information to any applicant’s name) to ensure that underrepresented or marginalized groups have not been negatively affected by the hiring process.
  • Will my name and/or my affiliation be revealed to the people reviewing my application? No. Applications are reviewed anonymously. Please do not include your name or affiliation in your short essays or sample Astrobite.

FAQs: Writing for Astrobites

  • What are the responsibilities of an author at Astrobites? Authors are typically expected to write one Astrobite per month and edit another author’s Astrobite once per month.
  • How long does it take to write an Astrobite? It really depends. On average, it takes an experienced author approximately 6 hours, including selecting and carefully reading the paper, writing the Astrobite, reviewing suggestions from your editor, and publishing it on the website. But this can vary due to multiple factors, including the difficulty and length of the paper itself, the author’s familiarity with the field, etc. 
  • How long does it take to edit an Astrobite? Editing another author’s Astrobite usually takes around 30 minutes.
  • How long do authors write for Astrobites? Authors typically write for two years regardless of PhD status (you can start in the final year of your degree and continue one year after), but this can be adjusted on an individual basis.
  • Do authors have any other responsibilities besides writing and editing? No, but many of us also spend time arranging for guest posts, representing Astrobites at conferences, participating in or leading the various committees within Astrobites (e.g., education, policy, diversity equity & inclusion, advertising), and maintaining the website. These activities are optional, so new Astrobiters can choose how much time they would like to devote to the collaboration.
  • Are Astrobites authors paid to write? No. Astrobites is a volunteer collaboration and does not offer compensation. The benefits of joining our team include public outreach (disseminating journal articles to a wider audience) and professional development (reading papers, writing, editing, and expanding your professional network).

Did we not answer all of your questions?

Please don’t hesistate to contact us with additional questions at hiring@astrobites.org!


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Updated: 10/19/2020