Disseminating my research

Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is no longer sufficient – research findings need to be disseminated more broadly to ensure (and demonstrate) that they have impact. This means that once I’ve submitted an article for publication I immediately start working on the dissemination plan (if I haven’t already done it as a form of ‘productive procrastination‘!)

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, I do have a standard list of dissemination options and a general process that I use. Here it is, in case it is useful for you:

Step 1: Write different versions of your article (during article writing/immediately after submission)

  • Blog post – I usually start by writing a blog post, and this is an excellent article about how to turn your journal article into a blog post, but I’ve also found this one useful.
  • Press release – The University press office has been really helpful in structuring the story and using appropriate language for my press releases in the past (although they sometimes need help making sure the essential message isn’t lost).
  • Talking pointstalking points are a great way to prepare for a media interview. In addition, the process of identifying and refining my talking points helps to identify and refine the message, audience and purpose for my dissemination strategy. I usually come up with about 5 talking points, for example: a short sentence and a short paragraph about the main result(s), a short sentence and a short paragraph about the implications, and a short sentence about what might come next.

Step 2: Circulate your pitch (before acceptance)

You may need to modify your pitch for each of the sources below, but you can base all of them on your press release. You need to circulate your pitch to these sources before your article is accepted, because often things move quite quickly after acceptance and you want to have time to work with these people to craft the best piece, and to coordinate the release dates with them.

  • Send a pitch to The Conversation (to do this you need to log in, and use the link on the left hand side of the dashboard)
  • Send a pitch to podcasts that might be interested. Podcasts usually have a longer lead time than the general media, so better to contact them early. There are some health-specific ones (e.g. 2SER Think:Health, the Research Roundup podcast by PC4) or more general ones, such as the University of Sydney podcast ‘Open for Discussion‘.
  • Send a pitch to any other magazine, website, etc that might be relevant. For example, in the past I’ve published summaries in Cancer Professional and have flagged oncologynews.com.au and Croakey as a possible media to approach in the future.

Step 3: Prepare for release (once accepted)

Once you know your article is accepted you should get a timeline for when it will be released. At this point you should let anyone who you’ve worked with on an article (e.g. the Conversation, etc) know the date and coordinate the release. You can also:

  • Contact relevant journalists with your press release. The press office can do this for you, and/or you can use informal approaches such as twitter (list of tweeting journalists below)
  • Contact relevant professional associations about circulating a short article about your research in their newsletter etc. I usually approach groups like the HSRAANZ, AHES, ESA.
  • Finalise your talking points for any media interviews. This includes the talking points drafted earlier, as well as notes on the different ways journalists or readers could misunderstand my research, and any sticky questions I’m nervous about. Then I draft responses to these (which I usually never need, but it makes me feel less nervous knowing I’m prepared).

Step 4: Disseminate (once published)

At last! Today is the day to…

  • Publish your blogpost on your blog
  • Publish your blogpost on LinkedIn
  • Write a post with a link to your blogpost (on your blog or LinkedIn) to Facebook
  • Tweet about your research – over the day or two after publication I usually tweet a link to the original article (with a sentence summarising the main finding), tweet a link to my blog post, tweet a link to any companion pieces (e.g. an article in The Conversation), and retweet any press coverage I get. I haven’t tried this yet, but I was recently told to tag relevant journalists in some of these tweets, and so I’ve compiled the following list of potential options:

Step 5: Tracking your dissemination

As we increasingly need to report our impact, it will become more important to be able to track how and to whom our research was disseminated. Tools like Google Alerts and Altmetrics can be very useful, but I’m also going to try and take screenshots/links/copies of any press coverage etc that I get and save them in the project folder, so that I can easily find them later.