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This half-day workshop, delivered by the Science Editor from online news platform The Conversation, will support you to write for public audiences. If you have a question about this session, please contact Dan Richards-Doran


Before session, academics to:

  • Think about story ideas, using worksheet provided
  • Catch up on the news, by radio, TV, papers or internet

09:30–10:30    Presentation: how to write for a public audience

  • Why bother communicating research to the public?
  • What is TC, origins and aims
  • What does writing for TC involve?
  • What TC does and why
  • Why TC rather than another outlet?
  • Tips on style, tone and structure
  • The ‘banned list’: jargon and academic-ese (examples)
  • Who is TC’s audience and how to aim articles at them
  • The journalistic rather than academic approach
  • Identifying an angle - what’s new?
  • How to pitch - examples of good and bad
  • Examples of different approaches:
    • A piece about the academic’s own research
    • A response to someone else’s research
    • A listicle (“Top five…”, “Ten most…”)
    • Something irreverent/entertaining/unusual


  • Gain familiarity of the aims, structure, way of working and benefits of TC
  • Learn to consider what elements of research and expertise could interest the public, and how to communicate it
  • Understand the style, tone and structure of articles written for the public

10:30–10:45    Chat/Q&A

Opportunity for questions and clarifications

10:45–11:15    Applying academic expertise to the news

  • Editor distributes daily papers (brought by editor)
  • Academics go through papers looking for stories in their field of expertise, or stories to which they could apply their expertise
  • Discuss how to approach this


  • Seeing academics as experts in their field, not just tied to their specific research projects

11:15–11:35    Break

11:35–11:45    Site demonstration

  • Editor takes attendees through the The Conversation online editor
  • How article editing works, preview and history record
  • Demonstrate “traffic light” readability system
  • Note approve button and disclosure statement
  • Show dashboard and article readership metrics


  • Become familiar with how to navigate the site editor and how to use metrics to track engagement

11:45–11:55    Dealing with comments and conversation

  • The TC commenting system
  • Why bother? Tips for joining in
  • Dealing with trolls
  • Moderation and reporting


  • Understand TC comments and role of moderators, feel more confident in ‘below the line’ discussion

11:55–12:35    Exercise

  • Based on worksheet academics have brought with them, discuss ideas for articles (allowing time for those without)
  • Each academic (or in teams of 3-4 if large group) pick one to develop. Write an opening paragraph and summary.
  • Discuss with group why topic is interesting to a non-specialist audience, or how to make it so.
  • Write a pitch for the article.


  • Identify good ideas to hone into stories, and how to put them across

12:35–12:45    Final chat/Q&A

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