Crafting your research story
The work of the Office of Vice-President Research (OVPR) is built on good communication. The Research Profile and Impact (RPI) unit is here to support researchers, staff and leaders to effectively be heard and understood with both internal and external messages. We are here to create compelling materials and new tools for external audiences.
RPI is the communications liaison with federal and provincial research agencies. We work in close co-ordination with University Relations and a network of USask college and research centre communicators to effective share the impact of USask’s research scholarly and artistic works.
Services we provide:
- Strategic research communications and advice
- Reputation and profile building
- Issues management, crisis communications, and reputational risk management
- External communications coordination
- Major news announcements and events
- Plain language and storytelling workshops
Storytelling tool kit
News and Features
News releases are a classic way to share news and updates from USask’s research community. RPI works with researchers and teams, along with college or centre communicators, to develop engaging stories with the goal of garnering media attention. The media relations lead in the central USask team handles sending out releases to USask’s media lists.
Stories are not usually sent out to media lists in the same manner as news releases, although they can take similar narrative forms. RPI uses stories:
- To tell a “bigger picture” or overview story of a research area or project
- To highlight the life journey or special story of a researcher or research team
- To embrace a more creative or alternative story form of communicating (top five list, question and answer, etc.)
If you have a research story you are thinking of developing a news release or feature story about, reach out to RPI to see how we can support and amplify your messaging.
The Conversation Canada
USask is a founding member of The Conversation Canada, a national academic newswire that provides independent, high-quality journalism. The non-profit organization provides a distribution hub for academic knowledge, featuring 600-800 word articles written by researchers in their areas of expertise and edited by experienced journalists.
To be published by The Conversation you must be currently employed as a researcher or academic with a university or university-affiliated research institution. PhD candidates under supervision by an academic can write for The Conversation, but currently they don’t publish articles from Masters students.
If you’re thinking about writing for The Conversation Canada, RPI can help you craft an effective pitch and walk you through the process of getting started. Contact us
USask student researchers are harnessing creativity and drive to make discoveries and uncover new knowledge in areas that matter to Canadians. The Young Innovators series highlights examples of student research at USask in all disciplines. This initiative is a partnership with USask Research Profile and Impact and The Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Stories are written by an early-career USask writer, about early-career USask researchers. They are often shared both nationally and internationally by various media outlets.
If you are interested in having your research profiled, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a questionnaire. Questionnaire answers are reviewed by the team to see if the work is a good fit for the series and to consider a potential profile.
Discovery Digest is a monthly newsletter that highlights the best news and upcoming events from the world of USask research. The target audience is both internal and external audiences, including government.
A form is in place for communicators and others to easily submit items. Discovery Digest goes out on the 15th of each month, or the next weekday if the 15th lands on a weekend or holiday. The content deadline is the 9th of each month.
Expert Lists and Pitches
Research Profile and Impact, in collaboration with University Communications, is creating topical expert lists of researchers to provide to media in response to news events.
For example, we want to have a list of researchers who study various aspects of climate change. When there are major events like flooding in BC or drought on the Prairies, we can provide the list to ensure our experts are being engaged by outlets.
To be on the list, researchers should be prepared:
- To generally be available on short notice to provide insight
- Be experienced in media interviews or have received training/coaching in media relations
The media relations specialist in University Communications will sign off on the list and distribute to media as they see fit.
Media and other training
An important task of the RPI office is empowering researchers and faculty in telling their research stories.
RPI has presentations available both for groups and individuals for media training, the use of plain language, how to write for The Conversation and other topics that can help facilitate the telling of research stories and increase comfortability with communications efforts.
You can also learn more skills by catching our monthly How To Tell Your Research Story sessions.
How To Tell Your Research Story - Learning Sessions
RPI offers targeted learning sessions the last Wednesday of every month to help researchers discover new tools and build skills needed to share their story and the impact of their work with broad audiences.
Find all sessions listed on the OVPR events calendar.
Do you have a topic to suggest? Let us know at email@example.com.
Did you attend a series and want to share your feedback? Take our quick survey and let us know your thoughts.
Available recordings and resources
Opinion Writing with SK Opinion Editors - recorded April 27, 2022
Plain Language for Researchers - recorded May 25, 2022
Social Media for Researchers - recorded June 29, 2022
Elements of Research Storytelling - Visual Content - recorded October 26, 2022
Elements of Research Storytelling - Video Content - recorded November 30, 2022
Elements of Research Storytelling - Written Content - recorded December 14, 2022
Images of Research
Organized by Research Profile and Impact, the USask Images of Research Photo and Imaging Competition captures photos through an annual contest. The Images of Research competition is a chance for the USask community including students, faculty, staff, and alumni to submit photos that best represent their research, scholarly and artistic work. Winning images are available for other USask communicators to use in their materials.
Visual storytelling is a very effective way to tell many research stories. Research Profile and Impact helps facilitate longer-form video projects, almost always with the assistance of USask media services. These are time and resource-intensive and the videos should be “evergreen” or be assets that can be used over a longer period. Reach out to discuss what support is available to create effective videos.
Looking for a shorter video format?
USask Research Minute videos are short-form video clips designed for social media that profile USask researchers and their work in 60-70 seconds of footage. Each video is unique, as footage of the researcher explaining a specific project, finding or impact of their work can be incorporated along with photos or project video clips.
They are also a flexible tool, as they can be filmed independently from a smartphone or computer, or via Zoom with a member of the RPI team. Video release can be timed with a written announcement, a special event or released on their own.
More video examples
Did you find what you were looking for?
This is just a glimpse of the support Research Profile and Impact offers. If you need help with document templates, advice on speaking notes, developing key messaging, building effective webpages, mastering social media, presentations and more, RPI can find the right support for your research storytelling efforts.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to discuss further!