News platform The Conversation

Are you a researcher with a PhD? Are you interested in sharing your knowledge to a wider English-speaking audience? If so, The Conversation can be the forum you’re looking for. Karolinska Institutet is now offering help and advice on publishing your own popular science articles online in the UK edition of The Conversation.

What is The Conversation?

The Conversation is a politically unaffiliated international online platform for journalistic popular science articles. The platform is based on the principle that academic researchers write their own new articles, analyses and op-eds within their own fields of expertise – with the help of The Conversation’s own professional journalists and editors. The Conversation was launched in Australia in 2011 and now has ten editions in several languages, including a global edition.

The Conversation’s UK edition has over 3.5 million readers a month. Much of the material on the platform is also republished under Creative Commons agreements by regular media outlets such as The Guardian, The Washington Post and Quartz. Adding in these secondary publications, The Conversation UK reaches a readership of over 10 million every month.

The Conversation covers all scientific disciplines, not just the life sciences. The first Swedish university to join was Lund, later followed by Stockholm and now KI.

Who pays?

The Conversation is financed by membership fees and support from some 500 research organisations and universities the world over. KI has signed an agreement with The Conversation UK, which also covers Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland, through the Stockholm Trio alliance. So the only cost to you as a contributor is the time you spend writing your article.

How are articles published in The Conversation?

The first thing to know is that you don’t submit a finished article just like that. The writing process always begins with a brief presentation of your idea, which the editors at The Conversation will then consider. If your suggestion is accepted, you compose your popular science article using a publishing tool through which a professional Conversation journalist gives you direct coaching on language, style and form.

Please note that it’s important that you write your article directly in the digital publishing-tool that The Conversation provides and not, for example, in a Word document that you send by email. When both you and the editor are happy with the article, it’s time to publish it.

KI’s own Communications and Public Relations Office helps to match researchers with the current topic that The Conversation wants to highlight – and that is sent to all member universities linked to each online edition. But you can also send a suggestion to The Conversation’s website on your own initiative.

Sometimes The Conversation’s own editors search out suitable authors on a subject by checking the universities’ own websites. So it’s a good idea to update your personal profile page on ki.se to make sure it’s comprehensible and interesting to lay readers as well as fellow academics. More information on how to pitch your idea to The Conversation and how to update your profile page can be found in the links section below.

How do you find the right researchers?

KI’s science communicators and press officers have a pretty good idea of which researchers have expertise on which subjects and an interest in reaching out to a wider public. However, we can’t know all researchers and need to learn which ones are good at writing popular science articles in English – and can do so relatively quickly when approached.

The best way to optimise the process at KI is for you to contact the Communications Office and tell us what you’re good at and what kind of subjects you could write about. This doesn’t mean just telling us about your latest research; we want to know if you can contribute to a broader analysis of topical issues with knowledge that can give many people new perspectives or deeper insight.

Contact

Communications and Public Relations Office

Unit for media relations and editorial content

Always use KI's special email address for matters related to The Conversation.

Do all articles get published in The Conversation?

Regrettably not – which is why you need to come with a suggestion/pitch before spending time writing a whole article. Researchers from the universities that pay membership fees have priority, but at the end of the day it’s the most interesting news or stories that get published and circulated. If you want help handling the competition, you might want to attend one of the seminars that The Conversation arranges with the host universities. Regular such seminars are being planned at KI, initially via Zoom.

Scheduled workshops in spring 2021

Learn to write for the public and contribute to The Conversation!

♦ Tuesday 16 March, 13:30 - 16:00 hrs, online on Zoom
More about this workshop

♦ Tuesday 4 May,  13:30 - 16:00 hrs, online on Zoom
More about this workshop

Registration in advance required (choose one of the dates)
Language: English