How Research-Driven Organizations Become Thought Leaders

TTLT: Making Research Easy

If you’re going to write a research report in 2019, please don’t make us read the whole damn thing to get the point.

Like Brookings does.

Or Cato.

Or CAP. (Yes, we get a short overview, but then it’s Scrollville.)

At least give us an executive summary, like the Manhattan Institute.

Better yet: follow Carbon Tracker’s rich model:

  • Two short intro paragraphs outlining the scope of the report (in this case: how can we tell if a company is aligned with the Paris Climate Accord Goals?);
  • A highly legible table showing 2018 investments by the global oil and gas players that the report says are Paris non-compliant;
  • A “key findings” set of bullet points;
  • A “key resources” sidebar (click to open on mobile) with the header “Looking for more information? Here’s everything you should need.”
  • That sidebar contains a downloadable infographic, a dek with the report’s methodology, a press release, and a key quote by the author of the report you can copy to your clipboard with one click.
  • Related reports, events and news are linked below a newsletter subscribe CTA and a one-sentence overview of what Carbon Tracker is.

You have to login to download the full report — but honestly, you don’t have to. You already have most of what you need at your fingertips.

Because Carbon Tracker decided to make it easy.

Easy is still a huge differentiator in research, amazingly.

Also check out this Carbon Tracker analyst note format and how the Key Findings section mimics Axios formating — bold headers to guide you down the main points, concluding with “Why will policymakers act” and “What will policymakers do.”

Of course, Carbon Tracker thought through how they wanted to present research for a contemporary audience and built that into their web design and digital strategy.

But even if you’re locked into an inflexible legacy design, you can at least provide a key findings section at the top. That’s just text. That’s easy.

Not doing so — that’s just lazy or arrogant. And increasingly non-competitive.