Lessons on going viral: A researcher shares her experience

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Image by thomas koch / Shutterstock.com

As we noted in our last post about writing well, writing is hard work.

But, let’s say you get past the struggle, commit your work to a text document and send it off for a read by that elusive “broad audience” we are trying to reach through science communication. What now?

Do you disappear into obscurity? Or, do the media gods smile down and cast you into a viral hit?

Know right here and now that, ultimately, how far word of your work travels is beyond your control and could be determined by factors so elusive as what news is breaking at any time on any given day.

Still, as a recent post on The Conversation by researcher Heidi Appel details, there are steps you can take, factors in your control, that can help dictate your fate:

  • A subject with broad appeal
  • Science communication training
  • Institutional support for communication
  • Proactive promotion of your story
  • Taking time to give interviews

In the end, Appel says the experience was well worth the journey despite any downside. Her research gained greater notoriety in academic circles and the attention opened up new professional opportunities, she notes.

And, Appel adds: “Capturing the public’s imagination with a research story was immensely gratifying because it broadens their appreciation of what scientists do.”

(Information provided Evelyn Jones | NH NSF EPSCoR; written by Amy Dunkle | RI NSF EPSCoR)

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