Thinking of writing for The Conversation? Steven Vass outlines the benefits for academics.
Each writer’s dashboard is filled with performance stats including the number of reads, social media interaction, geographic readership and republishes. It’s great for funding applications, and is a great distraction for anoraks. Writers can also access their university’s overall stats and see how they compare with colleagues.
2. Profile building
TC audiences can range from tens of thousands to tens of millions. We publish articles under a Creative Commons licence, which allows other media outlets to republish your piece so long as it’s verbatim and appropriately credited. Our articles regularly rerun everywhere from the Guardian and the Washington Post to newer players like IFLS and Quartz. Writers are regularly approached by newspapers and broadcasters for follow-ups, and sometimes articles even lead to reference in parliament, mainstream book deals, and job offers.
We only publish your piece once you have approved the final edited version – including the pictures and headline. It puts paid to academic anxieties that dealing with the media risks being misquoted or sensationalised. Our editorial process is two-way from start to finish, and writers have full access to the TC editing suite just as the editors do. It means you can learn how to engage with a broad audience without worrying about being stitched up.
4. Minimum hassle
We know you’re super busy so we have streamlined the process as much as possible. We only commission academics to write about exactly what they know about and our word count is usually around 800 words. We read through, ask you any necessary questions and then send you an edit to look over and amend.
5. A dedicated editor
Most media outlets handle academics now and again. Our team of editors works with no one else. This means we have the best possible understanding of all the things that matter to you. As working journalists we know exactly how to ensure a generalist audience gets the most out of your specialist knowledge without compromising your academic integrity. Many outlets will simply reject your pitch or article outright if not perfect from the start, but we spend time looking at how the article might work and collaborating with authors.
6. Communication skills
Explaining your work to a generalist audience and receiving quick feedback from an editor really helps clarify your ideas. Writers often tell us this helps them to communicate better elsewhere, from teaching students to funding applications to academic journals.
7. Online know-how
The digital revolution has had huge implications for universities, but it can be hard to know what it means for you personally. Write for The Conversation and you’ll acquire the skills to blog fluently, promote your work through social media, and figure out your place in the online space.
8. Giving back
It’s a great privilege to dedicate your life to learning and furthering human understanding – funded in most cases by society. Sharing your expertise with the wider world when time permits is a great way of saying thank you, getting others excited about what you do and how it affects them, and ensuring that knowledge is not restricted to university libraries.
9. The joy of it
Last but definitely not least, writing for a general audience is a great pleasure. It can be a liberating change from only talking to those in your field. We love seeing writers improving with each attempt and engaging with their audience in comments sections.
Ready to write? Pitch your news tips and articles to us and our editors will be in touch.