How do you string wonderful research ideas in a sentence or two?
Many researchers have strong, first-hand information, or data, that can be turned into a compelling story. The problem is many treat research writing logic equally to popular writing structure and let fear of (popular) writing take the best part of them.
“Free yourself from fear! Drop your background, drop your methodology. Make your lead sentence focused fully on what is interesting, newsworthy, and relevant!” These main points were continuously highlighted throughout a communication workshop for research partners conducted by Knowledge Sector Initiative.
Attended by 33 participants from 16 research partners, the workshop on “Selling Your Paper: Popular Writing for Research” was held in Bandung, 17-19 June 2014. This workshop is the second part of a series of communications workshop to improve research partners’ writing skills for wider audience. The workshop was intended to strengthen researchers’ writing skills in the area of research synthesis, feature writing, and opinion writing. Additional elements of popular writings such as info graphics and photo essay were also part of the sessions.
Ben Hillman, KSI Senior Advisor delivered a short session on tips and trick of publishing in international journal. It focused on how to create an interesting title and abstract for journal or article. An abstract should have a “wow” factor which means it has new information, also important and interesting findings.
The same “wow” factor also applies in features and opinion writings. The writers need to maximize the first paragraph to capture the readers’ attention. Research findings are more powerful when narrated through the lens of different subjects. Researchers need choose and stick with an angle/perspective throughout the narratives, to persuade readers into the particular issue or concern.
This leads to the ability to transfer emotions to readers through choice of words, sentences, and style. As for opinion, the writer is responsible to make him/her points heard, right in the first lines. Prior to their participation into the workshop, all participants were asked to bring along their draft outlines for feature and opinion based on their research interest. Following the presentation from resource persons, the participants had the opportunity to improve their drafts and a clinic session with writing mentor from Tempo Institute. The clinic was also an opportunity for them to share writing experiences with their peer.
“This workshop is very useful and fit with my line of work. My major responsibility is to follow up research findings conducted by our researcher team. It will a pity if these findings cannot be shared for common interest. I do need the support to learn how to better disseminate in more interesting ways,” said Amira Waworuntu, Creative Media staff from PSHK, one of research KSI partners.
At the end of the workshop, each institution wrote a follow up action for the next three months. Most of them stated to share knowledge within their institution on the workshop materials and committed to submit articles to the media.