Video / Ask SAPIENS

How to Write an Op-Ed: A SAPIENS Workshop

In this online webinar, SAPIENS Editor-in-Chief Chip Colwell explains the ins-and-outs of writing op-eds or opinion essays for the magazine and its peer publications.

Ask SAPIENS is a series that offers a glimpse into the magazine’s inner workings.

Do you have an opinion that you hope can change the world? In this online webinar, SAPIENS Editor-in-Chief Chip Colwell explains the ins-and-outs of writing op-eds or opinion essays for the magazine and its peer publications. Learn the ins-and-outs of the opinion format and how to successfully pitch your idea to editors. Whether you’re an anthropologist who has successfully published popular pieces or a graduate student looking to publish for the first time, this webinar will provide you key tools to changing the minds and hearts of public readers.

Read a transcript of the CART captioning by Joshua Edwards :

CHIP COLWELL: Hello. Thanks for joining us. We will let participants enter the space here. Thanks so much for being here this morning. Really appreciate your participation in this workshop. Welcome. Thank you so much for being here. We will go ahead and get started.

My name is Chip Colwell and I am the editor in chief of SAPIENS, the digital magazine of the Wenner-Gren Foundation. I am Zooming to you live here in Denver, Colorado. And I would like to acknowledge that these are the traditional lands of the Cheyenne Arapaho Ute tribes and Colorado is home to 45 tribal nations across the Rocky Mountain region.

So in today’s workshop, we are going to be covering how to write an op-ed. And we have an hour together. And so I would really encourage you to do your best to be present, put down your cell phone if you can and close your e-mail, be engaged. We are going to be, I am going to be asking for some feedback in the chat or the Q&A tab there.

So let’s be helpful and respectful to each other. And I just encourage everyone to recognize that everyone here belongs in this space. So let’s begin with clarifying with what is an op-ed. Many people might think about an op-ed or an opinion piece. And have a general sense of what it’s about, but may not be able to distinguish it from other writings you see in magazines and newspapers.

There most basically is two different categories in most public outlets for popular writing. And the first is an essay. And this is a form of writing in which you are really exploring an idea. You are taking someone on a long journey. You are hoping to discover something new with them.

These tend to be longer, more narrative-driven pieces. They can be anywhere from maybe 1500 words all the way up to 3,000 or in some venues, not SAPIENS, but some venues you might have pieces go up to five or 6,000 words or even more.

This form of writing really stands in contrast with opinion pieces or op-ed articles where you are really identifying that there is something wrong in the world and I have an idea on how to fix it. These are also very short tight pieces that really lay out a particular argument or vision for the world.

So in some venues, these might only be, like, 600 words, so kind of the length of a really long abstract. At SAPIENS, they tend to be a little more about 800 or a thousand words long. So not a lot of words to try to persuade someone about your vision or the world and how to see things differently.

So what do you need to write an opinion piece? Well, most basically, you need an opinion. You need to have a particular viewpoint on an issue. And you need to be able to bring some passion and new ideas to your audience around that opinion.

And so that opinion can be about many things. It can be about an injustice that is being done in the world. It can be about something that needs to change, maybe an institution, a societal issue. Someone needs to do something differently. Often opinion pieces are calling out particular actors, asking them, inviting them, telling them to do something different in the world.

Or you are providing a different kind of vision for what the world itself might be. So to get a sense of this idea of an opinion piece being about what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it, here are some headlines and some teasers underneath the titles from SAPIENS pieces that give you a sense of how very clearly opinion pieces are bringing opinions.

The first for example the science of human nature has a serious problem. And then you can’t characterize human psychology and behavior if studies overlook 85 percent of people on Earth. So this is an opinion piece that points out how biased sampling is often in human psychology and behavior studies.

Another example here is a piece that we published titled the dead must be counted. An unknown number of people who die from COVID-19 like migrants who die during perilous journeys are left out of governments’ official death counts. So this is a piece that is arguing that migrants who perish on journeys to new countries need to be counted just in the same way that the numbers of COVID-19 deaths is also a vital issue for public health.

Why eradicating polio is more complicated than it seems. Polio retains a foothold in Pakistan and will likely continue to do so as long as basic health service also neglected. This is a piece on really fascinating important in-depth ethnographic research that was pointing out that fighting polio actually should and must go hand in hand with providing basic health services.

Here is a few more. Archeologists should be activists, too. More and more archeologists are working to uncover the voices of marginalized groups in the past. But archeologists can and should do more to create social justice in today’s world. This is an argument that’s really geared towards archeologists encouraging them to do more social justice work.

But it has implications for broader publics. So it was a good fit for SAPIENS. Stop calling the Aleutians pristine. Indigenous people who lived in the islands for thousands of years didn’t trash the environment. That doesn’t mean their presence should be dismissed. So this is based on an archeological study that’s looking at the Aleutian islands and pointing out there is this very light imprint, light archeological record.

But that doesn’t mean people weren’t there. It just means that they were living in a different way on the land and finally, this is a piece we are going to dig into deeper in the webinar here. But it’s stop destroying African-American cemeteries. Highways, factories and other development projects across the United States are threatening the sacred paces of African-American cemeteries.

This is a very specific call to action around some legislation. So there is two kind of most basic ways in which people often write an op-ed, kind of two modes if you will. One is more of a storytelling mode. And this is a very productive and effective way of writing an op-ed.

We as humans love stories. It’s how we come to understand other people. It creates empathy. It’s often stories are what stick most with us more than facts or even arguments. So you can write an op-ed that’s more in a storytelling mode. It doesn’t have to be, you know, sort of angry or it doesn’t have to be really loud.

It’s just you are trying to share an experience. Maybe it’s an intimate experience you have from fieldwork or from some other part of your life. The other mode is very different. And this is the fist banging on table mode. Here you are getting really passionate and angry and loud. And you are really trying to create a storm of emotion as much as a logical argument for your reader to follow.

Sos you begin to think about a possible op-ed for yourself, which I hope many of you will on this webinar, it’s important to be thinking about which mode you are in. Are you trying to be a storyteller through kind of gentle persuasion, or are you standing on a soapbox and you are saying as loudly and clearly as possible there is a problem in this world and here is how we can change it?

So I would love it if you all could maybe in the Q&A pane, if you could, put in some thoughts of your own. I hope you’re attending this webinar because you are thinking about, maybe writing an op-ed. You are curious about the genre. And I’m sure all of you care about the world and are doing work to make it a better place.

So I would love it if just to get a sense of your own perspective, the kinds of things you are working on, your concerns. So if you are to write an op-ed, what would you say is wrong with the world? And do you have any ideas on how we can fix it? So it would be great if you can share those and feel free to use the Q&A window for that. And hopefully we can kind of get a sense of where we are at with some of these ideas. So I am going to propose that there are kind of two

basic rules to writing an op-ed.

The first is you know, is to know your reader. Op-eds, opinion pieces like all popular articles are almost never required reading. These are articles and essays and op-eds that people are reading usually on the bus, late at night when they are laying in bed thinking about their day and just looking to be distracted. They are looking for content on social media. They are looking for entertainment and fun.

Very rarely does your reader have to read what you’ve written. So you are constantly putting your reader first because you want to be able to pull them along on your journey along the way on your argument.

Think about your reader as someone who is intelligent, but not knowledgeable. Right. So there’s a distinction there where, you know, they are going to understand what it is you have to say, but they probably don’t know already what it is you have to say as an anthropologist.

And so for this reason, you should try to avoid jargon absolutely as much as you can. If you have to use it, make sure you define your term and you are bringing your reader along with you. Know that your reader is going to respond to story, to narrative as much as passion. Readers are especially with op-eds, they are looking for someone who brings a particular kind of fire to an issue, someone who really cares deeply about what it is that they are saying.

I recommend this really fantastic article written by Tim Radford called a Manifesto for the Simple Scribe. And I am going to put the link in here in a bit. But in short, in the chat window, but in short, this is a manifesto that Tim, an editor at The Guardian has written about the importance of the reader and always putting the reader first.

There’s some really amazing tips in there about putting your reader first. Okay. Rule number 2 is to know your point. Always remember opinion. This is an opinion piece, so your opinion has to be front and center. This is not a place to explore different theories or to talk about different methodologies, right.

You should have one big idea, and you should be hammering that one idea home over and over. And it’s important to use what are called hammer sentences. So maybe you are making the point and you will say somewhere along the lines, this is unacceptable. Or the time is clearly come for this to change or maybe it’s time to think differently.

So you are really using sharp, pointed phrases to drive your opinion home to the reader. All right. So there are a handful of key elements of an opinion article, an opinion essay. The first is what we call a lead. And so this is essentially the opening of your piece. Often you might start with a very, very brief anecdote. Maybe you are drawing from a personal story, something that happened to you during the fieldwork or in some other context of your work.

Or maybe you start with a shocking fact and you are trying to really just right away alter your reader’s viewpoints on maybe an assumption that you think they might have. So the lead is your opening. It’s really important, obviously, because this is what’s going to pull your reader in.

The next part is something we call a nut or a nut graph in journalism jargon. And this is where you summarize your point. This is where you say what’s wrong and what needs to be done. So often it’s a literal paragraph, just maybe two, three sentences typically about, maybe three paragraphs in where you are laying out a kind of roadmap for your reader.

You are just saying flatly and clearly this is my point. This is what’s wrong. And this is what I’m trying to convince you of. A peg is a question of why now? So most editor also looking for articles that have some urgency to them, that there is some reason why readers want to read it right now. It could be linked to maybe a holiday or maybe it’s an anniversary of an historic event.

Maybe it’s something that, a current event, you know, a president is visiting some country or maybe a war has started somewhere or a crime has happened. Or maybe there’s a new education policy that’s just been started, right.

So you are trying to find some peg, some way to show that what you are writing, what you are arguing about has some relevancy right now. It’s also important to establish your expertise. Why people should listen to you. An example I used before is for me personally, I care a lot about climate change. It’s something I am my own life think a lot about, but I never studied it. I never received any grants. I never published anything on it.

So just because I care about it doesn’t mean a reader should listen to me. They want to listen to you as someone who has some kind of deep expertise, some kind of knowledge, maybe if it is a personal experience it’s something that really is unique that isn’t just shared amongst many people. So you need to at least point to some way in which the reader should be listening to you.

You also need to outline the problem. So often this is kind of in a second structurally you have kind of the opening with the nut graph. You point out the peg. You often have your expertise. And then the second part, you often zoom back out and you outline the problem. How do things get this way? Why is this such an important issue?

And in the third section, you kind of zoom back in and you are stating the solution. Here is what I believe should be done. But often you need to be very, very specific about what that should be. Often in this section you might also include a rebuttal. So here you tackle a reasonable counterargument. You know, all of us, no matter what we believe, there is often a reasonable counterargument to at least some element of what it is we are arguing.

And so this is a way to maybe answer a question that’s in the reader’s head. But it also is a way to acknowledge often the complexity of issues that even though you might believe you have an answer for something, there might be multiple answers or there might be some context that the reader needs to understand when thinking about your argument.

And then finally with your conclusion, you restate what needs to be done. And often you might have a call to action which is you’re asking the reader themselves to do something, you know, to call their legislator, to write a letter, to have a conversation with their neighbor, to write a check to some organization, right.

You are suggesting that the reader themselves can have a role in this issue. And so those are the basic elements of an opinion article. You might see variations. You certainly will if you study a range of opinion articles. But really probably what you are seeing is that people who are playing with those different elements understand them all.

And so it’s like jazz. Once you have the basics down it’s only then that you can play some more. So I recommend for those who are starting out with their first opinion piece not to be too experimental. Stick with these because this is a true and tried formula. And even more, it’s what your editors are going to be looking for.

So if you are submitting a piece and it’s too outside this formula and you are not a proven writer, most editors probably will pass. Okay. So some tips here. So if you were ever in debate club, remember that. This is a debate you are having with your reader who can’t speak back to you. But you are engaging in that sort of dialogue with them.

You are trying to convince them of something. Be short, sharp, and crisp, both in your sentences and your arguments. You want to come up with really tight sentence structures as much as an overall narrative. Stay on track in six to 800 words, a thousand at the most. You just don’t have enough room to go on tangents. You have to stay focused on what it is that is most essential for your reader to understand.

You want to make sure that you support your claims with compelling facts or examples. Most op-eds have a lot of reference to examples or facts because you are trying to convince someone of something. And you don’t want to just convince them theoretically. You want to be able to demonstrate your argument has traction because of the evidence behind it.

If you are speaking to maybe a politician or maybe someone else who disagrees with you, don’t attack your opponent personally. Keep it at the level of the argument itself. Remember those hammer sentences, short, sharp, crisp sentences that really drive home your point.

Then as I mentioned, often you want to use the tool of kind of zooming in and out. As a kind of metaphor, you might consider a camera lens where you are zooming way in to an issue, and then you zoom back out. And then you zoom back in. That would be a very common kind of structure.

So you start out looking really closely at maybe an anecdote, someone’s experience, something that happened in the world that’s really important. And then in the second section, you zoom back out. You explain why this is the way it is, why the world is the way it is. And then you zoom back in with specific arguments or ideas on how to fix it.

And then finally there’s this adage that journalists often use and other writers, which is show, don’t tell, which means rather than saying, maybe opening saying just, for example, racism is a fundamental part of the U.S. educational system, instead of just saying that, start with an anecdote that actually shows that.

And so maybe you have a specific person that you interviewed. Maybe you have a specific story that was in the news and so you are recounting that story that shows that racism is strewn throughout the U.S. educational system rather than merely telling people.

And that is a way, again, to use the power of story to really get people to care about the issue, but also it’s much more likely to stick with them. One question that often comes up is references. And so every venue is going to be different. Some venues might ask for a full page of references and citations.

At SAPIENS, we tend to use URLs. So our fact checker can check any claims. But we also invent links for interested readers. You know, maybe if you cite for example, a new policy, you would have a link to that policy so the reader could learn more about it.

But in the submitted Word version for SAPIENS, we do look for end notes with references for claimed facts that don’t have any hyperlinks to them. So we don’t need a formal, SAPIENS and most venues don’t require a formal reference list. But you need to be able to back up any of your stated claims and facts.

Okay. So for this next section, what I am going to do is to invite everyone to pause for a moment and read this op-ed that’s in SAPIENS. I just put it in the chat, the link there. And so you could open it from there or from the — you could just type in what you see here for the URL. And I am going to give everyone three minutes. I think three, four minutes to read this.

So that should give you enough time to read this. And get a sense of the piece. So Stacy, you are not seeing the link in the chat, I take it? Okay, sorry about that. The link is also on the “answered” tab with Stacy’s question there. All right. We will just give you one more minute here.

Okay, great. Well, hopefully everyone has had the chance to at least get through most of the piece and get a sense of it. So what I would like to do now is to kind of help break down this particular op-ed to show you how all of these elements come together.

So let’s start off with the lead, right. So this is how to start the article. So here we have the author using a kind of anecdote describing this space, because the space is so central to the story. The cemetery, the say sacred space actually becomes almost a kind of character in the story. So I think this was a smart move here by Alexandra to try to get you to care about this space itself to show you what’s at stake with it.

So the nut graph summarizing the point and what’s wrong and what needs to be done. And Alexandra makes this very clear. This systemic destruction of a vital part of African-American heritage needs to stop. Often nut graphs will be a little bit longer than this. They will be a little bit more of a kind of roadmap as I said before to lay out in a little more detail what’s at stake, and also how it can be addressed.

But this nut is I think spot-on because it’s really making clear right up front that there is systemic destruction. This is heritage and that it needs to stop. And that’s essentially the three parts of the argument of this piece.

Okay. So why now? Hopefully you saw as you are reading the piece there is the kind of broad issue of historic preservation. But this is good that there is a bill that’s being considered at the level of the U.S. Congress. And so there is concrete action happening right now that the reader should care about, know about, and maybe do something about.

So does Dr. Jones establish her expertise? She does because she explains that she is the archeologist for a group fighting to save the cemetery itself from further degradation. So she’s a scholar. She’s an archeologist and she’s specifically working with a group that’s doing this work on the ground.

So she has real expertise there, something to say about this particular issue and the larger issue of fighting to preserve these cemeteries across the region. Okay. Outline the problem. How did things get to be this way? Why is it so important? So here there is kind of two approaches. One is the big picture, right, talking about back in the 1940s and with urban development and so on.

And then there’s this specific example with Gibson Grove itself where we learn about the community whose heritage is linked to the cemetery, and why it is that people were not buried elsewhere but in their own cemetery putting their relatives and loved ones in their own cemetery. So this I think here we see a really good job of giving zooming out, giving that really big picture to explain what happened all over

and then zooming back into Gibson Grove to explain what happened there in particular.

Then what’s to be done? So we learned at this point about all of the kind of tragic destruction of these places. But what to do about it? So, well, it relates back to the peg.

There is a bill that’s being proposed in front of the U.S. Congress, and that needs to pass. And if we pass that, that is going to save African-American cemeteries. So a rebuttal, right, acknowledging counterarguments or different ways of seeing the world. And here I think this is the paragraph that does it.

While the removal of homes — (reading the slide).

So what’s the potential counterargument here? Which is why not save all cemeteries? Why does there have to be special legislation just to protect African-American cemeteries? And the author I think very convincingly says that this is about equal rights because African-American cemeteries have not received equal protection historically, so there needs to be special remedies for that community today.

So you can see you don’t have to spell out all of the counterarguments, all of the potential problems, but at least giving a nod to a serious concern and then responding to it is a very important way of showing your reader both that you are addressing their potential concerns and that you are reasonably considering the whole range of arguments.

The conclusion, restate what needs to be done and why. Is there a call to action? (Reading the slide).

So in this particular case, I would say there’s not so much a specific call to action. It’s, you know, I think potentially the author could have encouraged the reader to reach out, you know, to call their representative if they are in the U.S. and so on.

But I think this is a quite powerful ending that ends a little more broadly, that’s talking about that we need to honor these spaces. We need to protect them. And we are doing this, we in the U.S. should be doing this as a way to bring equal rights to African-American communities.

Okay. So I would like you to just think through here having read the piece and broken it down a little bit, do you think in this example is the point clear? Do you think the audience was targeted? Does the author’s expertise come across? What works best for you and what’s missing or misjudged or unclear?

So these are some questions I think to be asking of this particular op-ed. But it would be important to be thinking about this in any op-ed that you are writing yourself, right. You want to make sure about your point, your audience, your expertise acknowledging what’s working best.

And then finding out what might be missing or unclear and then addressing that. So just, I want to pause here and again if you want to open your Q&A, do you have any responses to any of these questions with this exercise or at this point do you have any bigger questions about writing op-eds? So I will just pause here and see if there’s any questions or comments about what we’ve done so far.

So a question about the elements of an opinion don’t have to be presented in a particular order. You know, again, I think you can see people who are really well established in writing op-eds. They will probably play around a little bit with these.

But opinion pieces much more than essays really are a kind of formula and really good op-eds don’t veer too much from that formula. So the elements do appear. You have your lead which is your opening. You have your nut which is your main point. Usually say something like at the top like as an expert on, you know, as an archeologist practicing on these issues for 20 years, blah, blah, blah.

Or as the author of this book or as someone who just received this grant on this issue. So you are pointing to your expertise kind of up high. And that usually is your first section. Your second section you are really pulling back trying to explain the context of the issue. And then your third section is your argument addressing counterarguments and a closing.

So with op-eds, that is pretty close to the order. And again, you might see things mixed around, and in particular cases, maybe it makes total sense, for example, to address the counterargument maybe way up at the top, because the counterargument if you are really arguing against a broadly held assumption, you want to address that right up front.

So there might be ways, topics or issues that do call for a different kind of order. But for the most part, I would recommend sticking with that formula. Michael also notes I do like how her rebuttal seemed earlier on than I expected. Yeah. That might be a good example where, you know, you do see the order a little bit different.

And I think actually as I recall, the editor that was, like, the editor’s big question. And the editor after reading the first draft I think that rebuttal either wasn’t there or was further down as I recall. And the editor was, like, I’m not convinced to care enough about this issue unless you address my question up higher. Am and my question is one that the reader, many readers will have because your editor is a kind of stand-in for your readers.

Great. Another question here from Theresa. How specific should the proposed solutions be? For structural issues, it seems challenging to consider all possible relevant aspects in relatively few words. Yes, that’s definitely a real issue I think with many issues that anthropologists and other scholars, the issues that we are tackling.

You know, I think you can approach it in a couple of different ways. Some op-eds might truly just be about raising awareness and, you know, I’m trying to think of an example of a big structural issue. Let’s say the relationship between poverty and climate change, something like that, right, where those two are intertwined and untangling that and actually addressing something like that, you would need many books, right, just to be able to lay out a plan of action,

nonetheless realistically begin to address it.

But maybe what you are really trying to do in an op-ed is to call attention to just the issue in general. You are trying to make people aware that these two issues are related and that they create this kind of structural challenge. Another kind of approach would be to acknowledge to your reader that this is a huge issue. We are not going to solve this maybe even in our lifetime.

But we need to start somewhere and let’s start here. And you are just giving one specific area that you think could lead to real change or could inspire change or is necessary for change, right. So you are not trying to solve everything, but you are trying to start somewhere.

So I would say those are on the spectrum, those are kind of your two options. One is just acknowledge this is too big, you know, and what I’m really trying to do is just make you aware. The other is you are giving at least one or two specific options. Again, really good KWECHLTHS I think that’s very common for many scholars writing op-eds. Great. I’m glad that was helpful. Any other questions? All right. I also appreciate those who shared a bit about their research and what they ar

thinking about writing. So please do keep those coming, too, if you would like to share those with your colleagues here in the webinar.

As we work towards the closing here, I do just want to point out that here at SAPIENS, so here the magazine of the Wenner-Gren Foundation. And we publish essays and we publish op-eds as well as photo essays and video and other kind of poetry, other kinds of content. But we are actively looking for opinion pieces written by anthropologists for a broad public.

So I would very much encourage you to explore our Write for Us page and see if this is something you are interested in doing. One important element of writing op-eds to consider is that for quite a number of venues, you are asked to write the actual op-ed and then submit it in toto, just the whole thing, here is my op-ed. Here is what I’m offering for you.

But other venues such as SAPIENS ask for what is called a pitch. And a pitch is a kind of proposal of what it is you would like to write. And so often it’s more of, like, a 300-word abstract or summary that lays out a description of what it is the piece you would like to write would look like.

And this has its own kind of skill to it. It’s its own craft that many public scholars will develop because writing a strong pitch, you need to be able to very briefly capture the attention of editors, explain why it is what you are writing about is important, why you are the person to write it and so on. But nonetheless, there’s also no trick to it, really. It’s just a kind of abstract of what it is you would like to write.

And this is a very efficient way for you as a potential writer because you don’t have to write a whole piece and have it perfect. You are sending kind of just the summary of what it is. So it’s much easier, often, to write just the short summary than the full piece.

So keep in mind, in other words, as you are pitching or submitting your op-ed to different places, that there might be different processes involved where some are going to be asking for the whole thing and others for a pitch. But please do explore SAPIENS as a possible venue for your work.

And consider it as a way for you to not just publish an op-ed, but also to learn about the process, because as a venue of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, part of our mission is to share anthropology out into the world. But it’s also to help train anthropologists to do this work in public scholarship.

There is a question here about how long does it take to hear back? And that’s going to vary quite a bit by venue as well. Most major newspapers that you submit an op-ed to will say on their submission guidelines how long it takes. Most often it will say something like if you don’t hear back from us in 72 hours, due to the volume of pieces that we receive, we won’t be responding.

So if you don’t hear back from us, just please accept that as a no. And so in many newspapers, it’s about three days. Sometimes it can be a bit longer. I think The Wall Street Journal is a week or maybe even two weeks as I might recall.

But that’s pretty rare. Usually you are hear back in about three days. At SAPIENS, we try to get back to you within a week. But we are monitoring the pitches every day. And so if it’s a really pressing issue, we try to get back to you right away, knowing if we are a yes, we want to start moving on it as quickly as possible. And if we are a no, we want to give you a chance to be able to submit it elsewhere.

It is important for most op-eds to not submit simultaneous submissions, meaning you can’t — typically it’s considered unprofessional to have, like, one op-ed you want to write and you send it out to five different newspapers as a pitch. You need to typically do it as sort of one at a time. And so that pace of hearing back pretty quickly is a part of the process where you will be hearing back pretty quickly so that you can move on.

For myself, I have been for about ten years, 12 years now been actively writing op-eds, and the way I approach it is you kind of start with your dream publication and work your way down to what’s maybe more realistic. And so as part of that, you’re often kind of ready to do the work of quickly turning things around.

And also knowing that sort of rejection is sort of how it goes. So when you submit, like, to the New York Times, they accept less than one percent of their unsolicited pitches. So your chances are, like, very, very little. But if that’s your dream to write for them or it seems like a really good fit, go for it. Submit to them. If they say no, then go maybe to your local newspaper, right.

If they say no, maybe go somewhere else. So you kind of work your way down and with the goal of getting it published in the most high-pro vial venue possible or the one that fits most with your particular issue. I have published some op-eds, for example, that are about local issues. So going to a national newspaper probably doesn’t make sense.

I’ve also written op-eds where I want the people in the communities where I’ve worked to learn about some of the results of the research. So then you are trying to publish in those local communities, right. So you want to think strategically about what it is you are trying to say, who is your audience, who is your reader and who is it that you want to help you put your vision for the world in place?

So with that, I am very happy to answer anymore questions that might have come up. I’m also including my e-mail here, Please do reach out to me if you have any questions about SAPIENS, if you have any comments about this webinar. This is the first time I have done this kind of public webinar, so I would be really interested to hear any feedback.

But again, I would just really invite all of you to see SAPIENS and the Wenner-Gren Foundation as a resource for your research and your public scholarship. So if there’s anything I can do to help facilitate your work or your efforts to grow in this area, I would be really eager to do that.

And it’s not just me. I have really amazing team of editors and editorial staff that help make SAPIENS what it is. We get about three hundred pitches a year. We publish about 150 articles a year. And this reaches about four million readers all around the world. About 50 percent of our readers are in the U.S.; but otherwise, people are coming from all different spots in the globe.

So at SAPIENS alone we have a really amazing reach and we hope we can be a venue and a resource for you. So yes, please do put in any last questions here. I think we still have a few more minutes to go. So we have a question here from Michael. You suggest people try to develop public pieces on recent academic publication? This can be a way to provide broader conversation of pieces that otherwise appear in academic journals.

Absolutely. This is pretty much the strategy I have been using for about ten, 12 years now where, so I’m the editor. I’m also a Ph.D. archeologist and anthropologist. And so I’m doing both. I’m writing for academic venues and then I am writing for public venues. And this is my strategy. When I’m often setting out to write an academic article, I’m also thinking about what is the public article that can be taken from this?

And it’s a really good strategy generally because once you especially have a published piece, it’s in a peer-reviewed venue. So you can use that as a way to kind of establish your credentials, and also draw from the peer-reviewed content meaning the data or the arguments, right.

You have something to point to as an author of a public piece. So, you know, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes you just have an idea, something really important to say that you haven’t published on academically. Maybe you are working on a research project, but then suddenly something happens in the news that speaks exactly to your research.

And so you just kind of need to leapfrog that process and write for the public first. But generally that kind of tandem approach with your academic publication and popular publication, that’s a really great way to kind of, two birds one stone approach. You are reaching two different audiences with kind of one central effort around writing your research.


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