Converting a long article into something more accessible

If you’ve got a long and important document to publicise, such as a substantial White Paper or even some academic research, one of the best ways is to create an intermediate-length article. Many academic researchers now include the creation of this after publication as part of a research paper workflow. After all, vast amounts of research goes uncited, and that’s a real shame when drawing attention to it can be so straightforward.

An article like this can be promoted through social media, published on a blog, and may form the basis for reproduction in magazines and journals. A typical length to aim for might be 10% of the original article, up to about 1000 words.

Start with a descriptive heading which will guide the content of the article. What does the document explain? What benefits will the reader get out of it? Keep it down to 10–12 words, and don’t try to be clever.

Then put the good stuff at the start. Quote from the document literally if it fits your style, but avoid any of the technical or academic jargon which the original might have used. The background and the methods really aren’t important, at least not compared to the conclusion and the results. Include illustrations, but in-line as part of the narrative: this is not the place to point readers to the appendices.

Finally, end strongly, in such a way as to get readers to either want to publicise the summary article themselves, or at least read the full one. Make the link to the full document really clear, and include an attractive short biography of the full document’s author(s).