Why your research is not being published

Why your research is not being published

Researchers globally are well known for being purely scientific and often spend alot of time working on their research. Unfortunately, their research does not attract journalists to cover their stories for public consumption. This has made storytelling difficult for majority of journalists, who do not comprehend scientific technical jargon.

Andy Burness, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and President of global communications firm Burness cited the amount of research not published in the media as 99 percent. He made these remarks during a lecture themed, ‘Practical Communications Strategies for Influencing a Better World’, to the MA in Digital Journalism students, scientists, civil society experts, members from the academia and researchers. He encouraged researchers to communicate in a simple yet compelling way in order to reach multiple strings of audience types rather than permitting journalists to peruse through technical jargon that turns many news reporters off.

He gave an example of scientists who conducted research for the Journal of Zoology, titled, ‘Dynamics of Mara Serengeti ungulates in relation to land use changes.’ When presented with the findings, journalists broke down the technical jargon and published stories such as, ‘Shocking game losses in Mara’ and ‘Big fall in number of giraffes and other wildlife as humans encroach’. The stories created the desired impact as the locals were relocated while the vacant land was set aside for wildlife

As the lecture went on, researchers in the audience shared their fear of sharing their findings with the media due to misrepresentation, of which Mr Burness advocated for simple to understand storytelling ideas to capture their sophisticated research. “Researchers must learn to convey their findings in a language that journalists understand, while the journalists also have an obligation to be humble and ask questions rather than assume,” he said.

Despite the media landscape being faced with disruption, it is important for journalists to write and document impactful stories that target the right audiences and draw attention. Mr Burness concluded by urging journalists to unpack technical information in journals to simple digestible news content through the use of various media platforms.

By Andrew Arinaitwe