Researchers Trained to Write for the Media
UKZN in partnership with The Conversation Africa held a science communication and writing for the media workshop for researchers.
The aim of the event was to assist UKZN researchers to work on how they communicate and pitch their research findings to non-academic audiences as well as how to publish successfully on The Conversation Africa platform.
The platform assists researchers to (1) build their brand and profile on the continent and globally while showcasing their work; (2) to contribute to improving their academic standing; (3) to provide them with a platform that allows researchers to share their knowledge; (4) provide expertise to the public, policy makers and other academics, and (5) help them to be more accountable for their science, especially if they are funded for their research.
In her opening remarks, Executive Director for Corporate Relations Ms Normah Zondo emphasised the importance of researchers sharing their research. ‘It is imperative that research moves beyond the pages of a thesis, that it is available and utilised. What is most important about writing for public consumption is that your research has a direct impact on the wider community and provides answers to some of the socio-economic and other related challenges that affect them.
‘It becomes crucial to unleash some of the issues that face our society on a daily basis. It serves no purpose to write for a small community of academics who have the capacity to search for information wherever they wish to do so. It is more beneficial to ordinary people who bear the brunt of every day challenges to access this information in a simplified way,’ said Zondo.
The Conversation Africa’s Ms Pfungwa Nyamukachi, who is responsible for Strategic Partnerships and Stakeholder Relations, said: ‘Scientists do important research work and need to be more widely visible in popular media to help shape and guide public discourses on all issues facing society. The Conversation Africa exists to assist scientists and academics to achieve this.’
She says since The Conversation Africa was launched in May 2015, it has published more than 7 200 articles authored by 5 000 academics and scientists resulting in more than 105 million reads globally - proving that scientists’ voices matter and that readers want to hear from experts. A total of 85 UKZN academics have published 122 articles which have reached 1 799 909 readers through the platform since its establishment.
Nyamukachi said their objective was to make the knowledge and research insights produced by universities and the research sector more accessible and easy to understand.
The Conversation Africa (TC-Africa) is a not-for-profit media initiative serving universities and the research sector in Africa. TC-Africa’s mission is to mainstream the voices of scientists in the media and to support science engagement and science communication activities of scientists in Africa.
Words: Sithembile Shabangu