Introduction to writing for The Conversation

This introductory session is suitable for Social Sciences and Humanities researchers at all career stages.

If you're in an academic career, or if you're looking to pursue one, communicating your research to a range of audiences is probably going to be an important part of what you do. The Conversation is a platform for academics aimed at encouraging exactly this. Oxford is a member of The Conversation and as such receives regular opportunities for researchers across the University to contribute articles and to take part in hands-on training to enhance writing and engagement skills.

The session will cover the following areas:

Presentation: What is The Conversation?

  • The origins and aims of The Conversation
  • Why bother communicating research to the public?
  • What does writing for The Conversation involve?
  • The benefits for academics and universities
  • Tips on style, tone and structure (with examples)
  • How to pitch (with examples)
  • Examples of different approaches:
    • A piece about the academic’s own research
    • A response to someone else’s research
    • A list (“Top five…”, “Ten most…”)
    • Something irreverent/entertaining/unusual

Q&A session, emphasising:

  • Approval and disclosure
  • Editorial support to academic researchers
  • Republication in major media outlets
  • Wide international audience
  • Academics as experts in their field, not restricted to writing only about their own research

Exercises:

  • Based on attendees’ own areas of research, discuss and develop ideas for articles
  • Group discussion on why a topic is interesting to a non-specialist audience, or how to make it so
  • Writing a pitch for the article

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