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The Conversation

Lund University is a member of the online news outlet The Conversation UK. The Conversation gives researchers the chance to write about current social events and new research in collaboration with an experienced editor. The articles can then be freely republished by other media and reach a global audience.

The Conversation covers a wide range of topics, including science and technology, politics and international affairs, medicine and health, economics and business, and arts and culture. 

The site’s articles reach a total audience of 10 million readers every month. Readership figures are on a par with science articles from The Guardian and The New York Times. 

Contents on this page

Benefits of writing for The Conversation

  • You will be supported from idea to publication by an experienced journalist/editor. They will give you advice and guidance on how to make your research accessible. This knowledge can also be useful in other contexts when you need to target your message to a wider audience.
  • Publishing in The Conversation gives you a unique opportunity to interact with broader society and increase the visibility of your research internationally. Previous participants have reported positive results, including opportunities for research collaboration and academic publication. 
  • You will have access to statistics on how many people have read and commented on your articles and information on where they are republished. These statistics can be used, for example, in research applications.
  • You have full control over your article, including the title and images used, and nothing will be published without your approval. Other media outlets are not permitted to edit the article when republishing it but must use it in its entirety. 
  • Writing for The Conversation is free. You will not be paid for your contribution either. The Conversation is a non-profit organisation funded by its members, such as Lund University. 

​​​​​How to get started

Articles are usually published in the following ways

  1. Researchers can propose and pitch article ideas, primarily via the website. If you already know which editor is suitable for your topic, you can also contact them directly. It is important that the pitch is approved before you start writing the article. 
  2. The Conversation puts out calls for experts, either through requests to university press offices or through direct contact. You may therefore be asked by a communications officer to write about a specific topic. Please let your communications officer know if you are interested in writing for The Conversation, so they can keep you in mind in the future. 

What type of content are they looking for?

The Conversation uses the same criteria to evaluate news items as other media outlets. Articles must appeal to a wide audience. The unusual and surprising stand out. Personal stories, on-site fieldwork, unique perspectives from Sweden, and “behind the scenes” topics are particularly appreciated. Examples of content they are looking for:

  • The researcher as expert commenting on current affairs. The Conversation is looking for depth and new perspectives on issues making the news.
  • The researcher sharing their latest research results or commenting on new research by others. 
  • The researcher writing timeless explainers, i.e. articles that focus on fundamental and universal topics. When pitching a timeless explainer, you will have more time to write, for obvious reasons. This type of story can be a good first article to write for the platform. 

Examples of format

  • Analysis and commentary on current events, trends or societal changes. 
  • “Explainer” focused on how things work, such as the impact of 5G technology on communication, why leaves change colour in autumn, Einstein’s theory of relativity, the impact of a basic income on an economy, the origin and importance of the Diwali festival, or how probiotics affect gut health. 
  • Current news events as a hook for presenting your research. For example, you could examine how urban planning can be adapted to reduce future risks in the context of flooding in Europe. 
  • Tell an exciting story or answer an interesting question, such as “why do we dream when we sleep?”
  • Make a list – for example, 5 effective methods for time management.

Links for getting started

How to write a pitch

Before you start

  • Read The Conversation to get a feel for the type of material they publish.
  • Use the website’s search function to check what they have already published in your area.
  • Feel free to contact your nearest communications officer to discuss your pitch.

When pitching an article idea to The Conversation, it is important to keep it short and concise: 300 words maximum. An effective pitch is a strong story in itself. Having a direction distinguishes it from a topic: while “textile waste in the fashion industry” is a topic, “how to make clothes last longer” makes it a story. Create a logical structure and include statistics, personal stories and examples to strengthen your pitch. 

Contents of the pitch

  • What is issue at hand? Start the pitch with a sentence that answers that question.
  • Why should the reader care? Explain why the topic is important and why it is interesting, relevant and engaging for readers. You could create a hook to a current news event or demonstrate that your topic affects a lot of people. Remember that the reader in this case is the editor, who is deciding whether to accept your proposal. 
  • List the main points of your proposal. But do not give too many details. Focus on broader brushstrokes. 
  • Think about timing. Why are you pitching this story right now? Is it related to something that is happening or about to happen, or a research paper you have published or are about to publish?
  • Why are you the right person to write this article? To convince the editors that you are the right person to write about this topic, you should link your pitch to your previous research and your connection to Lund University. You can refer to previous work or expertise that you possess. 
  • Remember not to write your pitch as you would an abstract for a research paper. The Conversation targets a wider audience, which requires a different tone and style. Also, do not assume that the editor knows about your topic. Make clear, however, that you have a deep understanding of the topic, and do not just give an overview.
  • Remember that The Conversation requires all authors to have a position at or an affiliation with a university. This means that doctoral students are also able to contribute their perspectives and insights.

Learn more about The Conversation


Look out for workshops organised regularly by the University’s Corporate Communications, in conjunction with The Conversation.

Online courses

The Conversation offers short online courses on how to pitch and write for them and more generally, how to reach non-academic audiences. The courses give access to videos and texts which you can follow at your own pace and at times that suit you. These training packages in journalistic writing are provided for the benefit of researchers at affiliated member universities. 

The Conversation Training courses

Be inspired by other researchers

Articles written by researchers at Lund University for The Conversation

LU researchers share their experiences

Paul O’Shea. Portrait.
Paul O’Shea, senior lecturer at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, has been published several times in The Conversation. Overall, his articles have been read almost two million times.

What was your experience of working with The Conversation?

“Overall, my experience has been very positive. The editors are more responsive than mainstream media editors. They are also more “hands-on”, which can be a challenge sometimes, but in the end, they just want to improve the text and ensure a high standard, which I really appreciate.”

What has been the outcome of your involvement?

“The outcome has been fantastic. Even if some feedback is negative, it is gratifying to see that people are reading your work, sharing it and debating it. The wide reach of The Conversation has also led to new collaborations for me. For example, I wrote several articles on the politics of the Tokyo Olympics, which led to my being invited to participate in an international project on the Olympics and publishing a peer-reviewed article on the subject last spring. Similarly, the Covid articles led to a research paper co-authored with my colleague at the Centre, Nicholas Loubere, and a Swedish researcher at the Swedish Defence University, and another that is currently under review.”

Do you have any tips for researchers considering making use of the platform?

“Yes, my advice is not to wait until your peer-reviewed article or book is out. Academic publishing is time-consuming, and for good reason. But writing a piece for The Conversation is a good way to explore the significance of an idea/case/hypothesis etc. For me, The Conversation is somewhere you can go to begin developing new ideas.”

Paul O'Shea in The Conversation

Moa Petersén. Portrait.
Moa Petersén, associate professor at the Division of ALM and Digital Cultures, published in The Conversation in June 2018. Her article has been read 253,000 times.

What was your experience of working with The Conversation?

“My experience of working with The Conversation was mixed. On the one hand, it was rewarding to be able to reach a wide audience and to have the article receive a lot of attention. On the other hand, the editor took a harder approach in their guidance, which in some cases led to the loss of some details and depth. This may have led to the article being more superficial – but also to its impact.”
What was the outcome afterwards?

“The results were overwhelming. The article spread quickly and reached a wide readership. It was translated into several languages and I was asked to do interviews with the media both nationally and internationally. It also led to a book contract and new research collaborations. Writing for The Conversation was a turning point in my career.”
Do you have any tips for researchers considering making use of the platform?

“I would recommend that everyone write for them, as long as you are ready for a possible circus afterwards. Stand up for your text and challenge the editor’s suggestions if you disagree with them. Dare to try but be aware that it may lead to unexpected consequences.”

Moa Petersén’s article: Thousands of Swedes are inserting microchips into themselves – here’s why

Pär Halje. Portrait.
Pär Halje, assistant researcher at the Division of Integrative Neurophysiology, published in The Conversation in August 2023. His article has been read 21,000 times.

Why did you want to publish in The Conversation?

“It started when I was invited to write a blog post for “Behind the Paper”, a blog linked to the publishing house where I had recently published a scientific paper. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the effort, so I asked the faculty’s communications officer Tove Smeds for advice. She pointed me to The Conversation and said that it would probably get more coverage if I wrote something there, as other news outlets republish articles from there. And she was right, instead of one post, I ended up with about 30 posts on various media platforms globally.”

How did you go about it?
“First, I looked at other articles to get an idea of the format and tone. I realised that the articles I liked best were written in the first person and with a narrative style, so I tried to do the same. I wrote a first draft which bounced back and forth a few times with an editor from The Conversation. All in all, I probably spent about two working days on it.”

What was it like?

“It was fun and rewarding to write in a more personal style, but it was also difficult to maintain the accuracy of the language without all the scientific jargon, where concepts have their well-defined meanings.” 

Do you have any tips?

“I spent a lot of time trying to convey not only the results but also the scientific process, i.e. why we measured some things and not others, and why that allowed us to draw some conclusions but not others. I think that is important in popular science writing.”

Pär Halje’s article: How consciousness may rely on brain cells acting collectively – new psychedelics research on rats 

Mikael Johansson. Portrait.
Mikael Johansson, professor at the Department of Psychology, published an article in The Conversation with colleague Roger Johansson in June 2022. Their article has been read 125,000 times.

What was your experience of working with The Conversation?

“I found it extremely instructive and engaging. The Conversation is an outstanding platform for communicating things such as new research findings to the media and a wider audience, without compromising the accuracy and factual correctness that is so central to academic writing. We worked with a very experienced editor who offered valuable advice on how to adapt our narrative, language and examples to make relatively complex arguments understandable to an audience with no particular prior knowledge or experience of reading research articles.”

What was the outcome afterwards?

“The article has attracted a lot of interest from many readers and has been widely shared on social media. The same goes for our original research paper, which has been widely read and cited, and our findings have been described in various news and media outlets. Although it is difficult to say for sure, the article in The Conversation may have been an important part of this breakthrough.”

Do you have any tips for researchers considering making use of the platform?

“I highly recommend The Conversation as part of the important work on external engagement. As a researcher, it can be a challenge to find places for more journalistic contributions, but I feel that through this platform you have control over both content and presentation. The fact that the editorial process, from submission to publication, only takes a few days is also quite a fun experience and something that is not so common in academic publishing.

Mikael Johansson’s article “Eye movements could be the missing link in our understanding of memory”

Martina Svensson. Portrait.
Martina Svensson, communications officer and researcher at MultiPark: Multidisciplinary research focused on Parkinson’s disease, published an article in The Conversation in January 2020. Her article has been read 70,000 times.

What was your experience of working with The Conversation?

“I pitched my idea and got a thumbs up. I wrote a draft that the editor made suggestions on and sent back, then I responded to these and we discussed the details we had differing views on. She then set the headline and after that it was published.”

What was the outcome afterwards?

“I don’t remember exactly when all the fuss started because I have had two scientific publications receive attention thanks to press releases from the University. But some people who have contacted me have specifically mentioned my article in The Conversation. For example, I have been contacted by both The New York Times and CNN. Two of my scientific articles have also had – because of all the writing in the news, blogs and on Twitter – high altmetric scores, a method used to measure and evaluate the impact of research in a broader way among the general public than, for example, citation indexes.”

Do you have any tips for researchers considering making use of the platform?

“Go for it! Get beyond the idea stage and act. Even if it doesn’t have much impact, you will learn how the media thinks for future media contact, and you will have something to link to. News articles are completely different from scientific articles. Trust the editor, even if it may feel unfamiliar or uncomfortable at first. The important thing is that all the facts are correct. Also, think about the timing and make sure you know when the article is being published so you can ensure you are available after publication. If you are unsure, ask one of the University’s communications officers for guidance and use them as a sounding board throughout the process. Last but not least: have fun and be creative. See it as a chance to try a different way of expressing yourself!”

Martina Svensson’s article “January blues: cross-country skiers hold clues to beating it” 


Ellen Albertsdóttir
Communications officer
ellen [dot] albertsdottir [at] fsi [dot] lu [dot] se