Writing for The Conversation
What is The Conversation?
The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.
How can The Conversation help raise your profile?
The Conversation’s audiences can range from the high hundreds right through to the millions. It has a creative commons policy which allows other media outlets to republish your piece so long as it’s verbatim and appropriately credited. Their articles regularly rerun everywhere from the Guardian and the Washington Post to newer players like IFLS and Quartz. Writers are regularly approached by newspapers and broadcasters for follow-ups, and sometimes articles even lead to reference in parliament, mainstream book deals, and job offers. See below for some of our own academics' experiences.
What kind of articles are they looking for?
The Conversation focuses on three priority areas:
● timely, evidence-based analysis of issues making the news, such as new research;
● timeless, plain English ‘explainers’ of complex issues;
● in-depth series or specials or our regular hard evidence stories.
You will work closely with the Scotland Editor and retain total control over your work. Nothing is published until you are happy completely satisfied and sign the article off.
Interested in contributing?
Email EdNapierNews@napier.ac.uk for more information.
Alternatively, register at https://theconversation.com/become-an-author and start contributing now.
Experiences of Edinburgh Napier academics with The Conversation:
Peter Buwert, School of Arts & Creative Industries
I actually really enjoyed the Conversation writing experience. It’s a big change from academic writing for peer review which is refreshing: much faster and more interactive.
I think the most liberating thing I took out from it was the freedom from getting tied up in getting every word perfect because the journalistic style really doesn’t care about clever little phrases, it just wants the simple version.
Grahame Steven, Business School
My articles in The Conversation have been picked up by a number of people / organisations and it has provided me with a range of interesting public engagements, events and so on:
Private roundtable on the implications of devolving tax to Scotland that included a senior member of the Scottish Government
Placed in the expert database for the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee – I have just made a submission to the Finance Committee on “A Scottish approach to taxation”
And, most importantly, my articles have been widely read.
Peter Barlow, School of Applied Sciences
My experience of creating a piece for The Conversation is that it’s an activity that can be undertaken and completed within 2-3 hours and is very much centered around rapid responses or discussions of issues that are of high interest to the general public.
I’ve also gained a substantial amount of media coverage from the pieces in The Conversation which has led to live radio and television interviews on programmes such as Scotland Tonight, STV News, Sky News and Voice of America news.
Sean Smith, Institute for Sustainable Construction
Firstly, I have found it incredibly simple and easy to work with The Conversation staff and copy editors. The online submission of an article coupled with seeing the drafts before going to press – to ensure details are correct and the “story / article” is still accurate – is also helpful, quick and simple to use.
I had several useful email exchanges with readers and also the articles have been linked in to wider audience and industry sector platforms via sharing, which has also helped.
One article led to me being invited to be a key speaker at an industry conference, so you never know quite what positive aspects may result unless you write the article.
Finally, sometimes the editors may change the title / header to attract the reader – this needs to be handled carefully as this is the article title by which you may be remembered in future, so ensure it's one that will have positive legacy.
Sarah Artt, Institute for Creative Industries
I would encourage colleagues to disseminate work via The Conversation, mainly because I am a big believer in open access publishing, and the fact that more people read my article on Sherlock than have probably ever read any of my other publications.
Tony Westbury, School of Applied Sciences
I have found writing for The Conversation a very positive experience.
We have had a couple of articles picked up very widely and prompted contact with other media outlets. I seem to be the sport psychologist on the speed dial for several BBC radio shows – both Radio 5 and Radio Scotland.
James Blake, School of Arts & Creative Industries
The Conversation gives you an opportunity to write in an accessible and engaging way. Think about how your research can be communicated to interested readers who may be outside your area of expertise.
The Conversation likes to be topical and relevant – so academics should think about how their research is relevant to what is happening in the outside world. This might be the political implications of Brexit (for example) or a reactive comment on a news story in your area of expertise.
Kate Botterill, School of Applied Sciences
Overall I’ve had a good experience with The Conversation as a way to engage a wider public audience in my research.
It is important to build a good relationship with the editor of your article to ensure there are no misunderstandings about the tone and content of the article you write.
Since publication yesterday my article has had over 4,000 and is steadily increasing, it has had numerous retweets and been re-published in other new media outlets across the world.