Insights

After the Paywalls Tumble Down

First, a thought experiment: Let’s pretend that the White House hadn’t last week announced that academic journals will by 2026 have to make any paper and data based on publicly financed research available to the public immediately for free. Let’s pretend the White House instead had announced that those journals would have to make any paper and its data based on publicly financed research understandable and usable by the public immediately for free.…

You’re Not Lana Turner

There is nothing glamorous about pitching opinion pieces to editors. Of all the tasks researcher/public experts tend to hate — public speaking, camera work, public meetings — pitching opinion is probably the most universally despised. I agree. You have to either write the piece ahead of time or come up with a cunning pitch with a news hook.…

What Fills the Gaps Beyond the Research?

There’s always going to be a gap between your research and the world.

Between your research’s complexity and your audience’s attention span.

Between your research’s messages and your audience’s priorities, values and desires.

Between your single piece of research and the rest of the literature it fits into or contradicts.…

Don’t Shoot the Audience

One of the largely unspoken rules in research communication is we acknowledge there should be different messages and approaches for different audiences — but will ignore that reality in our communications.

We will write a paper and point everyone to it, even though almost no one can access the full version (or understand it once they’ve accessed it).…

Does Everyone Matter? Then Who Does?

If you think action on climate change is the most important issue facing the world today, you might be surprised to learn that you are still — despite 30+ years of warnings from climate scientists and at least two decades of increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric from climate activists, not to mention year after year of more intense and frequent heat waves, wildfires, power outages, storms and droughts — quite lonely in your conclusion:

Of course, you can still think climate change is a very big problem, even if you don’t think it’s the biggest.…

The Two Kinds of Feedback for Public Experts

Document comments are the devil’s work.

Oh, I use them to give feedback — all the time. Everyone does. And that’s the problem. Send your content out to a half-dozen people, get 300 comments back (not to mention a boreal forest of suggested edits).…

You Are the New Publisher

For as long as I have been advising researchers (25 years as of next year), research communicators have said the same thing:

We’re not publishers.

Yes, we publish stuff, absolutely, they all add. But we’re not publishers.The Times and the Journal and The New Yorker and the Atlantic—they’re publishers.…

Call It

Air pollution is bad for us, says a mountain of research in very convincing ways.

In fact, the research is so convincing that air pollution is a clear and present danger to our health (including, perhaps even especially, our cognition) that New York Times journalist Binyamin Applebaum recently argued for using the health effects of air pollution to get people concerned about climate change, since the sources of the two are largely the same and air pollution doesn’t suffer from the “too far in the future to care about” problem climate change has.…