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Building momentum: It’s time to join The Conversation

Since becoming a founding member of The Conversation Canada, Queen's researchers have used the platform to reach audiences around the world.

Conversation Collage
Since Queen’s became a founding member of The Conversation Canada in 2017, 65 Queen’s researchers have published 86 articles that have attracted 1.2 million reads.

What do road salt, hospital wait times, and Rod Stewart have in common? They are all topics of widely-shared articles authored by Queen’s University researchers for The Conversation Canada. The online news platform’s unique model, articles written by academic experts paired with experienced journalists, has captured the attention of researchers and a public (38.2 million readers) worldwide searching for evidence-based, informed news on issues of importance.

[The Conversation]Since Queen’s became a founding member of The Conversation Canada in 2017, Queen’s scholars have embraced the model: 65 Queen’s researchers (faculty and students) have published 86 articles that have attracted 1.2 million reads. Many pieces have been republished by international news outlets, including Scientific American, The National Post, CNN, TIME, The Washington Post, The Sydney Herald, and Maclean’s.

Examining timely issues such as Canada’s health-care system and its wait time problem, Chris Simpson (Medicine) appreciates the platform’s real-time readership metrics and analysis.

“My experience with The Conversation has been stellar: professional and timely editing, great practical advice, and a very user-friendly electronic interface. Watching the engagement stats in the hours and days after publication gave me a real sense of the reach and power of this knowledge transfer tool,” Dr. Simpson says.

For Robert Morrison (English Language and Literature) The Conversation has allowed him to marry his expertise of language and his love of music. His popular pieces (e.g. Maclean’s) entitled “Remembering Gord Downie through his lyrics” and “Why Rod Stewart’s gay ballad ‘Georgie’ was ahead of its time”  recognized the cultural significance musicians and their lyrics carry.

GLOBAL REACH
Founded in Australia in 2011, the online news platform has nine editions with 30,000+ academics from 2,065 institutions as registered authors whose articles attract 38.2 million readers worldwide. The Conversation’s Creative Commons Licensing has meant that over 22,000 news outlets around the world have shared and repurposed content.

“I’ve greatly enjoyed writing for The Conversation Canada,” says Dr. Morrison. “It has given me the chance to talk about contemporary issues such as immigration, gay rights, gun violence, and the opioid crisis, and to do so in a way that is, I hope, substantial and engaging.”

Graduate students have also leveraged the benefits of The Conversation. Jamie Summers (Post-Doctoral Fellow, Biology) and Robin Valleau (MSc Biology) saw their article “Road salt is bad for the environment, so why do we keep using it?” reach almost viral status at over 100,000 reads. It was republished by The National Post, TIME, The Weather Network, CNN, and Popular Science. For Dr. Summers, “writing for The Conversation provided further media opportunities that are not typically available to graduate students. Upon completion of my degree, I felt that my media experience, largely provided by The Conversation, was a valuable transferable skill that would help me throughout my career.” While Vallaeu said that “The Conversation gave me the opportunity to share my research with the public in a timely and constructive manner. It also led to many exciting opportunities, including television and radio interviews.”

The university's success with The Conversation Canada highlights the importance and impact of disseminating leading-edge research and scholarship beyond the academy.

“Queen’s has been a supporter of The Conversation Canada since our inception. I have been extremely impressed of how Queen’s has leveraged The Conversation platform to its maximum ability,” says Scott White, Editor-in-Chief of The Conversation Canada. “Authors from Queen's have been integral to our mission of presenting to the public expert-based analyses and explanatory journalism. On a personal level, my newsroom staff and I thoroughly enjoy working with Queen’s academics and the communications staff. The feeling of teamwork is real and has resulted in some excellent articles.”

Queen’s relationship with The Conversation Canada is managed through University Relations with support from Vice-Principal (Research). Researchers interested in writing for The Conversation should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

For more information on The Conversation Canada please visit the website