Behavioral Scientist is excited to announce a call for ideas for our second print edition, Brain Meets World.
We fall in love with our theories and ideas, disproportionately valuing the things that we create. Inside the dreamy reaches of our minds, the controlled confines of our labs, our studios, our research firms, we build what we think are elegant solutions.
Yet, most of us do not want our contributions to remain forever as untested hypotheses, hypothetical designs, theories and ideas withering in obscurity. Instead, most would rather their work be used to address real problems, to further human advancement, to help us answer our deepest, most motivating questions.
This means that eventually, our ideas and theories must leave their cozy, ordered homes and venture into the chaos and disorder of the real world—ideally for the better, but there’s no guarantee.
Brain Meets World will explore the electric, surprising, painful, and peculiar journeys that ideas take—from how, where and why inspiration happens, to the obstacles behavioral scientists and designers face and how they adapt, and finally landing at their discoveries, results and reflections on the impact and meaning of the work.
Brain Meets World will have five chapters:
- Visions — The dreamy phase when we first have an idea
- Work — The phase where we bring that idea into the world, receive feedback, and test it
- Discoveries — The phase where we learn something new, perhaps unexpected
- Reflections — Did we create something great? Frankenstein’s monster?
- Re-visions — We’re back the dreamy idea phase, but with more wisdom and experience
We’ll combine a variety of story and article formats and word counts to explore each chapter’s theme and the overarching theme in Brain Meets World, including: commentaries, personal essays, journalistic features, brief perspectives, Q&As, historical perspectives, annotated diagrams and maps, or methodologies.
See below for the content types we’re looking for and how to pitch.
What we’re looking for
Below is a selection of some of the content types and storylines we’re interested in. We’re also eager to hear other ideas outside of those listed. Instructions on how to pitch follow.
- What was it like to see a problem in your life firsthand, and then try to address it as a behavioral scientist? For instance, behavioral scientists who grew up in poverty, and are now working on ways to alleviate it. What’s it like to be the only person (or one of only a few people) who has actually experienced the social issue you’re working on?
- Your experience during the moment of discovery. What was it like, after all of the work, to finally see a result, or discover what you were looking at? Are moments of discovery different in behavioral science from the other sciences?
- Did you become disillusioned through the process of doing research and decide to leave the field, or do you know someone who did? This essay would explore what happens when you no longer believe in the work.
- Did your research lead to a lot of people testing or using an intervention–but sometimes not in positive ways? This is the story of misinterpreting or misusing work and grappling with unintended impact or consequences as a behavioral scientist.
- Your experience as a member of a team working on a problem that had to overcome significant adversity.
- What research findings do we take for granted right now? What seems like common knowledge right now but once wasn’t? What was the world like pre-and-post discovery?
- The story of how, when, and why a particular tool, instrument, or survey has changed and what it means for our understanding of human behavior.
- Other formats or angles that give us the benefit of learning from where we’ve been before? Historical debates, lectures, experiments that would shed light on this theme.
- Does this theme bring up memories of a past study, experiment, or piece of writing? We’re looking to include excerpts from behavioral science’s past alongside its present and future.
Journalistic Feature or Profile:
- The story of a person or team working on an idea or a problem that overcomes significant adversity.
- The story of someone who failed dramatically in the field and underwent either a kind of public destruction and/or rebirth.
- A story that captures the moment of discovery—on a team, or for an individual. What was it like, after all of the work, to finally see a result, or discover what they were looking at? Are moments of discovery different in behavioral science from the other sciences?
- The story of a person, or team, that comes up with a new, creative, and more accurate way to study an important behavioral phenomenon.
- Do you know of someone with a unique creative process to behavioral science or design? Why should you (or we) talk to them?
- A conversation between a student and teacher about their creative processes, how they find inspiration, and what they’ve learned from working with each other.
- A conversation between a less established and more established behavioral scientist—potentially studying similar subjects, exploring how the research has changed over the decades, what it’s like to have your findings overturned, or used in service of a greater good.
- Do you still have the notebook pages, napkins, papyrus, etc., where you first began to scratch out or doodle the beginnings of an idea? Share it with us.
- Do you have the initial correspondence (letter, email, etc.) between you and a collaborator that helped launch an idea? We’d love to see it.
- Did you have a memorable rejection or know of one? We’re interested in your rejection stories.
- Do you receive or do you know of a memorable rejection letters or phone call?
Quotes, sayings, or parables?
- Does the theme bring to mind any quotes, sayings, or parables? We’d love to hear what they are and why they came to mind for you.
Fiction/ Short Story:
- If you write fiction and are inspired to write something that seems aligned with this theme, we’d love to hear about it.
- Are you a photographer, graphic designer, cartoonist, or visual artist of some kind with an idea for a piece that could fit into this theme? We’d love to hear your ideas.
Other ideas? Questions?
- We’re open to other ideas on your mind. Pitch us the idea.
The deadline for pitches is Monday, July 19th. We will evaluate pitches on a rolling basis. Writing and editing will occur from July through August (and September as needed). If you’d like to pitch but have an issue with timing, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to pitch an idea
Use the pitch form linked here to explain:
- Your idea
- How it fits in thematically
- The format you think your piece would take
- Why you’re the person to write it
- Why others would want to read about it
We understand that different formats will require different levels of explanation. For longer pieces, pitches of three to four paragraphs, 100-250 words, is often a good range. For shorter pieces, a few sentences can often suffice.
For pitches involving multimedia or attachments, please email email@example.com directly.