Every month, we track what happened to The Conversation authors after we published their articles. Here are some of their stories from July 2021.
Academic insights reached millions of readers
The story that attracted the most interest from our audience in July was Lara Herrero from Griffith University’s piece on how the symptoms of the Delta variant appear to differ from traditional COVID symptoms. It has been read more than 1,882,000 times! 94% of the article’s readers were from outside Australia, showing there is a global appetite for evidence-based health information as the Delta strain surges in many countries.
Our second-most read article in July was Anthony Veal from the University of Technology Sydney’s piece on how the success of Iceland’s supposed ‘four-day workweek’ trial has been overstated, which garnered over 414,000 reads. Tony was subsequently interviewed by ABC Radio, Reuters Europe, Canadian radio and for our global podcast The Conversation Weekly.
On social media, Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan from Charles Sturt University’s piece on how women athletes are taking control of their sporting outfits was a viral hit.
Influencing key figures in public policy
We also saw a number of our expert authors finding receptive ears among important government decision-makers and political influencers in July.
For instance, after UNSW’s Jodie Rowley and the University of Sydney’s Karrie Rose wrote about the mysterious mass death of frogs across the east coast, Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box tweeted about the article, noting that investigations into the issue were underway.
The piece was republished by 11 other news outlets around the world including the ABC and Australian Geographic. The authors subsequently received over 600 emails responding to their call for help from the public.
“The community clearly loves their frogs and the concern is evident in the messages that we have been receiving. The article is working as we are learning a lot more about the distribution of this event.”
Meanwhile, Katharine Gelber from the University of Queensland attracted the attention of another Australian government official — the eSafety Commissioner. Her article on how to better regulate online hate speech sparked interest from the commissioner’s office who asked for further policy advice. She was also contacted by think tank Reset Australia for ongoing work and discussions on policy development.
Tom Logan from University of Canterbury’s article on who will pay for New Zealand’s vulnerable coastal properties as sea levels rise saw the Earthquake Commission reach out to collaborate on the issue.
New Zealand’s Retirement Commissioner will also use Richard Shaw from Massey University’s essay, in which he argues non-Maori New Zealanders must confront the unsettled history of their country, in a forthcoming report on Maori retirement policy.
Meanwhile, Aaron Simmons from the University of New England’s piece on a controversial soil carbon trading deal between Australian farmers and Microsoft was read by one of the highest-profile climate change researchers in the world, Professor Peter Smith, who sent it to contacts at the tech giant. The GHG Policy Institute, who did an analysis for Microsoft prior to the purchase of the carbon credits, have also presented the article to Microsoft officials. Other parties involved in the deal have also engaged with the author, and one is changing their strategy for future deals.
Finally, two former Australian Prime Ministers tweeted their appreciation for our recent articles on the Australian government’s handling of the pandemic. Kevin Rudd shared William Bowtell from UNSW’s analysis of Morrison’s ‘new deal’ on vaccinations and quarantine facilities…
…While Malcolm Turnbull shared Lesley Russell’s critique of the outsourcing of major components of our COVID response to private consultants who can’t guarantee bang for buck.
Translating research into industry action
Many of our authors were also approached by industry groups within their field of research, particularly peak bodies, seeking insights and to collaborate on new initiatives.
Tracey-Ann Palmer from UTS, who wrote a guide for students considering choosing a science subject for VCE, was interviewed for the Science Teachers Association NSW’s podcast. Meanwhile, Matthew Mclaughlin’s research team from the University of Newcastle had their piece about healthier lunchbox options shared with the Public Health Association of Australia’s members.
After University of the Sunshine Coast’s Emily Ross and Margaret Marsham wrote about Australian kids’ declining financial knowledge, Emily was invited to a conference at Deakin University, to collaborate with Griffith University academics, an NGO and a school principal, and to author a book on financial literacy.
Finally, after Mladen Adamovic from Monash University wrote about how recruitment often discriminates against ‘foreign’ applicants, he was asked by the Career Development Association of Australia to prepare a report on his research for their members.
“The most important and personal feedback that I received was from ethnic minorities who struggle to find jobs or who are employed in jobs that do not correspond to their educational level, skills, or work experience. Unfortunately, their stories were very sad. They asked me for advice on what they can do to get a job and how they can reduce the risk of name discrimination in recruitment.”