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First Opinion, STAT’s platform for opinion and perspective essays, welcomes submissions about the biopharma industry, medical science and health care, and other topics related to the life sciences writ large.

Thanks to the strength and range of First Opinion submissions written by a diverse and ever-growing group of authors, essays have by turns enlightened, infuriated, awakened, and deeply moved readers.

Here are a few things we want you to know about First Opinion:

We believe it is important to air a wide range of perspectives. That means sometimes publishing essays by writers with ties to industry or consumer advocacy groups or individual companies. Such ties do not necessarily disqualify writers from contributing to First Opinion, but it’s absolutely crucial they be fully and transparently disclosed to readers. The agreement we ask all authors to complete once an essay has been accepted for publication helps ensure this transparency.

We understand that many of the scientists, executives, physicians, patients, politicians, and others who submit First Opinion essays are not professional writers and may rely on friends, colleagues, or communications experts to help them distill and shape their thoughts. Seeking such assistance does not disqualify writers from contributing to STAT. But we ask writers to disclose any help they received as we evaluate the merits of their submissions. And we insist that any first-person piece reflect the authentic experiences and views of the author(s), and the author(s) alone.

We receive many more submissions each week than we receive. Our overriding goal is to share insights and views from across the spectrum — and to be transparent about any conflicts the authors may have.

Here are general guidelines for First Opinion articles:

  • We are looking for crisp essays that offer intriguing opinion or perspective that will be of interest to STAT’s readers. Writing about a topic immediately in the news or with a provocative perspective is a plus, as are first-person stories with a broad or universal message.
  • Please write in a conversational style for a general audience.
  • We like to see some first person narrative fairly high in the article (“My work helping draft new guidelines for prescribing opioids has given me a bird’s-eye view of …” or “As the founder of a biotech startup, I …”). Personal stories are even better. Establishing a personal connection between the writer and the topic lets readers know the writer’s standing for expounding on the topic at hand.
  • Shorter is better than longer: 700 to 1,000 words is the sweet spot.
  • We cap the number of authors at three.

To get more information about writing for First Opinion, or to submit an essay, contact First Opinion editor Patrick Skerrett at [email protected].