Think: Leicester submission process

Think: Leicester provides a platform for academics at the University of Leicester to present their independent views to allow opportunities for discussion, debate and discourse. The views and thoughts do not reflect the views of the University of Leicester but reflect those of the individual.

E-mail the News Centre to pitch an idea for an opinion piece. A member of the News Centre will liaise with you to arrange for a full article according to the relevant guidelines for The Conversation, Think: Leicester, the Leicester Mercury's First Person, or any other media source of opinion.

Content deemed by the News Centre to be likely to offend or unsuitable for a general audience will not be accepted for posting on Think:Leicester. Material that may have a damaging reputational impact on the University of Leicester will not be accommodated on this platform.

Tips and advice for writing content

Media outlets are always looking for expert comments and opinions on topical items to enhance their reporting. If you have been asked to or are thinking about writing an opinion piece, the following  tips and advice from the News Centre will help.

State your main point in the headline

Media outlets and readers have a short amount of time to read articles. Try to state the main point in the headline to attract the reader’s attention quickly and make it clear exactly what is the angle of your piece. A short sentence (a standfirst) underneath the headline will summarise the opinion article, main points and opinion being given.

Example:

Dr Nigel Bannister, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 'Hundreds of ships go missing each year, but we have the technology to find them'

Express an opinion

The most effective opinion pieces are those that express a single opinion on topical news items rather than seeking to cover all aspects of the debate.

Example:

Professor Jon Moran, Department of Politics and International Relations: 'Yemen chaos shows drones can take out key targets, but they’ll never defeat terrorism'

Be topical and choose the right time

The best opinion pieces are those that are linked to a new or topical news item. Ask why the media and readers would want to read your article right now - this will help you to amplify the significance of the article. Try to predict and anticipate the news agenda.

Example:

Dr Meryl Kenny, Department of Politics and International Relations, 'The Scottish Independence Referendum - A Vote for Change'

Use your research to inform your writing, rather than trying to promote it

Opinion pieces are a good way of demonstrating the University’s expertise and research areas, to promote your work and your department/college. On the other hand, readers are most interested in your expert comments and opinions. If they are interested in what you have to say, this will naturally lead to the media taking greater interest in your research expertise.

Example:

Professor James Chapman, Department of the History of Art and Film, 'New Bond film promises to raise the spectre of Ian Fleming'

Avoid jargon - write as a journalist

A journalist’s style is very brief, concise and to the point. You will find this type of writing style has more of an impact on the reader. Also, try to bear in mind your target audience; they won’t be familiar with technical or subject-specific terms and acronyms.

Example:

Professor Mark Jobling and Dr Daniel Zadik, Department of Genetics, 'Who do you think you are? Most detailed genetic map of the British Isles reveals all'

Prepare to engage in a discussion

By writing and publishing an opinion piece, it is in the public domain. Readers may want to comment on the opinion piece and you should try to engage with your readers where they ask reasonable questions or challenge what has been said.

Platforms such as The Conversation have a facility where people can leave comments. Also, social media is another platform where readers can comment on the piece.

Example:

Professor Martin Parker, School of Management, 'Why conspiracy theorists won’t give up on MH17 and MH370'

Word count

The News Centre requires opinion pieces to be around 450 words.

The Conversation normally requires a word count between 450- 800 words depending on their brief.

Be prepared for editors to cut down or change your language in the opinion piece to meet their style guidelines.

For information of other communication tools and media advice, visit the For staff page on the News Centre website.

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