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Research in the media

How can you ensure that your research hits the headlines? How can you bring your research output, such as PhD research or a publication, to the attention of the public?

Spotlight on a publication

If you have published a book or an article in an academic journal, inform the scientific communication adviser or your faculty’s communication department as soon as possible (after your work has been accepted) to discuss how to bring your publication to the attention of the public. This can be done through different channels: news articles on the University website, social media, the weekly newsletter and press releases. The press releases will be issued by the scientific communication adviser as and when required.

Inaugural lecture

The news team issues a press release before all inaugural lectures, making sure they contact the professor well in advance. This press release notifies journalists and the public of the inaugural lecture and communicates to a broad audience bout the new expertise that the University now has in house.

PhD defence

No later than four weeks before the date of the defence, the PhD candidate submits a short public summary of their dissertation via an online form. This summary is published in the agenda item concerning the PhD defence on the Leiden University website. The website editors decide whether they wish to publicise the results of the PhD research to a wider audience, for example by publishing a press release and/or bringing this to the attention of the press. This depends on the newsworthiness of the research, and can only be done in consultation with the PhD candidate.

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NWO or EU grant

If you have been awarded an NWO or EU grant, inform the scientific communication adviser or your faculty’s communication department as soon as possible to discuss how to bring this to the attention of the public.

Can journalists find you?

Make sure that your profile page is complete so that journalists who are looking for an expert to comment on current affairs can find you. This means using the right keywords in Dutch and English to ensure you are found through the university website and Google. You can also link related pages, such as news articles, agenda items, research projects, programme pages and dossiers. Contact your faculty’s communication department to edit your profile page.

Research dossiers

We use research dossiers to draw attention to areas of research in which the University has a longstanding tradition and which tie in with current affairs. The deans of the faculties decide on the subjects of these dossiers.

Your research in the news? Here’s how it works!

Wil je als onderzoeker persoonlijk advies over Are you a researcher and do you want personal advice on science communication? Do you have a topic that you believe deserves publicity? Contact the Leiden Science editorial team as soon as possible: news@science.leidenuniv.nl.

We need the following information from you:

  • What's the story? Briefly explain what you've discovered or, in the case of a grant, what you're planning to investigate.
  • Why is this important? Why does your story matter to the reader? What makes your research interesting or unique?
  • It would be great if you could already think about imagery we can use.

See the tips below from science communication platform The Conversation.

  • Scientific Importance

Your research yields significant/new insights. The research is robustly and solidly conducted; the results are reliable and may be released. Let us know if any crucial aspect remains uncertain.

  • Timely Occasion

Such as the date of promotion, publication in a reputable journal, a public lecture, etc.

  • Societal Relevance

Such as a crisis, a societal debate, an important report, a societal development that the researcher can elucidate.

  • Prize, Grant, or Funding

You've received a significant prize, grant, or funding for your research.

  • Behind-the-Scenes Look at Ongoing Research

Sometimes the research is still ongoing but worth discussing in advance. For example, due to unique circumstances (interesting field trip or methods, societal partners, etc.).

  • What is the 'Leiden' contribution?

Are the main authors still working at our institute and Leiden University? If you or other significant authors are now employed at another university, we need to coordinate who might pick up the news.

  • Is everyone in agreement that the research should (already) receive publicity

Check with your research partners if publicity is desirable at this stage.

What are the options? From idea to finished product

If you have something to share, approach the editorial team. Sometimes the editorial team also approaches researchers themselves during current scientific or societal events. Together, we discuss whether and how to address the topic.

This doesn't always have to be in the form of a news article. Sometimes it's more effective to share something through a video, social media, or it's useful to create a dedicated webpage or organise an event. This entirely depends on the message, and the goal and audience we want to reach.

We offer a wide range of possibilities

  • News article on the university website
  • A press release sent to (inter)national an regional media – this is only done in consultation with the central science communication advisor (see box).
  • A press release sent to specialised media.
  • Social media such as LinkedIn, X, Instagram and Facebook.
  • Video – a video can be a very engaging format, but it’s also costly and time-consuming to produce and will therefore be considered extra carefully by the editors.
  • A podcast.
  • A post in the events calendar on our website.
  • An announcement or news article on the staff or student website.
  • A website – Are you, as a researcher or group, considering to create your own (free space) website? Please first contact the editorial team for advice.

Or are you going for more interaction with the public?
Regarding the means above, only social media posts offer room for interaction with the public (followers). This allows the researcher to answer questions, but unfortunately, social media platforms are often not ideal for constructive and nuanced discussions. When engaging with the public in dialogue, consider activities such as:

How about press releases?

Major news sometimes calls for a press release. The University actively distributes a press release to news media, both regionally and nationally. Examples include great scientific breakthroughs (with significant societal relevance) or major events. As a faculty, we do not independently send out press releases; this is handled by the central editorial team. Our faculty editorial team submits a proposal for a press release to them. For more specialised research, our faculty editorial team may actively send a release to relevant (specialised) media outlets.

The distinction from a news article lies in actively sending out a press release to the media. A news article is only posted on the website. However, many journalists and news pages closely follow our website. And through our newsletter and social media, we also reach a significant portion of them.

Did you appear in the media? Let us know!

We are proud of all scientists who share their stories in the media. Are you appearing on TV, being interviewed on the radio, or featured in a newspaper interview? Please always inform us. We will then create a brief "In the Media" post for our website. This post will also automatically appear on your personal profile page. This way, everyone can see at a glance the ways in which you engage in outreach.

Upcoming media appearance? These tips will help you prepare!

  • Media guide: The Media Guide for Scientists provides practical assistance and advice for interacting with journalists or preparing for media appearances. The guide also assists you in deciding whether or not to respond to a press request. It also indicates who you can consult for discussion and additional training.
  • Social media: Advice and guidelines for using social media.
  • Outreach tools: A page featuring websites, articles, videos, and blogs compiled by the Young Academy Leiden.

With questions or the need for advice, you can also always approach the editoral team.

What to do in case of sensitive topics or harassment?

Issues like the nitrogen crisis, climate change, or the use of laboratory animals can sometimes lead to heightened tensions. Public debates on these topics can be intense, causing scientists to feel inhibited about expressing their views on sensitive societal issues.

As an editorial team, we can offer support and advice. Please don't hesitate to reach out.

Reporting Incidents

At Leiden University, there's a protocol in place: always discuss concerns about (potential) harassment with your supervisor and possibly also with the dean of your faculty and the editorial team of your institute. Together, we can discuss how best to assist you. If you become the target of threats and/or persistent abusive posts on social media, always contact the Safety Affairs department as well:

  • Leo Harskamp (Head of Safety Affairs) l.j.t.harskamp@bb.leidenuniv.nl | +31 (0)71 527 1191 or
  • Jaap van Zaanen (Safety Affairs Advisor): j.van.zaanen@bb.leidenuniv.nl | +31 (0)71 527 380

Always report incidents to the Safety Affairs department mentioned above so that the University is aware of the situation and can take appropriate action if necessary.

For advice, also consult the national Science Safe reporting point (Meldpunt Wetenschap Veilig). Reports via this platform are automatically forwarded to our own Safety Affairs department. WetenschapVeilig also offers useful advice on how to mitigate risks and cope with harassment. The reporting point is available 24/7 and has an emergency number to discuss acute concerns: +31 320-331343.

De Leiden Science editorial team

Editor-in-chief: Christi Waanders
Editor: Hilde Pracht
Editor: as of 1 May 2024
Visual and video editor: Charlotte Ellerman
Communications officer at LION: Michelle Willebrands
Communications officer at IBL: Amber Verhaar
Communications officer at LIACS: Marcel Tichelaar

The other institutes do not have a separate communication officer but do have a designated contact person for communication and website matters:

MI: Pieternel Gort
STRW: Erik Deul
LIC: Michel Olsthoorn
LACDR: Sharon Broekhof

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