The Conversation

Stockholm University has been collaborating with the digital magazine The Conversation since autumn 2019. The membership means that researchers at Stockholm University can participate in workshops with editors from the magazine and get tips and help with writing and publishing popular science articles in English. All topics are welcome, but a current affairs connection is always beneficial.
The easiest way to get an article published in The Conversation is for the researchers themselves to propose an article idea directly to the magazine via their website.  

Miriam Frankel, Science Editor at The Conversation. Photo: Private
Miriam Frankel, Science Editor at The Conversation.

“It helps if you can express yourself clearly in your pitch and explain why you think our readers would be interested in the subject, and why it’s current. It’s often effective if you can link your research to what’s happening in the world right now,” says Miriam Frankel, Science Editor at The Conversation in London.

Expert requests every day

The editorial team at the magazine also sends out a so-called “Expert Request” every weekday to the communicators of its member universities. The e-mail lists current topics about which the editorial team would like researchers to write articles. It could be that the editors are looking for an expert who can write an article about the royal houses in the Arabian Peninsula, or about the Russian prison system in light of the imprisonment of the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Another request, for example, was someone who could explain whether sleeping too much is as harmful to health as sleeping too little.
If you are a communicator at Stockholm University and see a topic that you think would suit a researcher at your department, you can advise the researcher to contact the editor at The Conversation directly. The texts must often be produced at short notice, within a few days, and the text length is usually about 4,500 characters or 700 words.

The Conversation

Start with results and discussion

Miriam Frankel says that the most important thing to consider when writing for the magazine is to understand that readers are curious and intelligent, but often lack specialist knowledge of the subject.
“So you should ideally express yourself simply and avoid technical terms. There’s no need to oversimplify the intellectual content, just the language. It’s also good to try to find a structure that’s the opposite of a research report. Instead of starting with background and methodology, start with results and discussion! And keep in mind that what a general reader finds interesting is not necessarily what is most important from a research standpoint.”
She also advises that broader topics often work better than narrow ones.
“If you’ve invented a new technique or technology, focus on what it can be used for instead of just describing it.”

Training sessions with The Conversation - sign up now!

Two digital training sessions with The Conversation will be arranged in the spring, now you can sign up for one of the sessions:
May 10 at 2-4 p.m. Sign up here.
11 May at 14-16. Sign up here.
Note! The zoom link to the workshop will be sent in the email with the confirmation of registration.

Read the article ”Fun to write about something topical”

The Conversation