How to: write the Story of your research

February 14 2023 / By Charlie Rapple

Writing a plain language Story about your research will help more people find, understand, cite and act on it. You don't have to be a communication expert, and it doesn't have to take a lot of time. Let us help you tell your Story.

Who is your Story for?

audience-1Think about who you are trying to reach with your research. As well as reaching other academics in your field, you may want to reach people in other sectors who can benefit from your findings, or put your results into practice. These other audiences might include industrial scientists, policy makers, practitioners, educators, patients, or the media.

Which two or three of these are most likely to be able to act on your research? These are the groups you should keep at the front of your mind as you write your Story.

See through your audience's eyes. 

geekWhat do they already know about your topic? What do they think about the topic? And what is it they need? At this point? Do they need information because the key challenge here is simply a lack of awareness? Or do they need persuasion because they already know something about your topic, but they're not taking the kinds of actions that you would recommend?


Keep it simple.

educationThe people you are addressing may not be familiar with the language of your field. They may not be reading in their native language. They may not be highly educated or literate. Imagine you are talking informally with a younger relative. Aim for the language you would use and the depth you would go into when telling them what you do:

  • Use simple language.
    Write use instead of ‘utilize’, near instead of ‘in close proximity to’, help instead of ‘facilitate’, start instead of ‘commence’.

  • Keep sentences short.
    Strip out unnecessary words:
    Not: The next step was to undertake a thorough analysis of the results.
    But: Next, we analysed the results.

Make it memorable.

idea,insightDon't just list facts, tell a story. Try to stir your audience's imagination. There's widespread evidence that emotions are key to memory. So if you want your audience to remember and apply your recommendations, then appeal to their emotions. Think hard about how you can relate your work to people's everyday life or the broader societal issues that they might be aware of or interested in. Catch people's attention, and make your work feel relevant, topical and timely. Imagine someone asking you "so what?” and consider whether you have answered that implied question.

Try it now: Step-by-step guidance

  • Log in to your Kudos hub and click 'Add Publication' and search for the article you want to tell the Story about.
  • Give your Story a title:

    This could be the overall theme of your research, or the key point you want people to remember. You can edit this later. For example:

    Using machine learning to predict rates of death after brain injury

    How much do burnout and depression overlap?

    Why are there so few parliamentarians from ethnic minority groups?
  • Write your Story – bring it to life by thinking about:

    • What prompted you to do research in this area?
    • What problem are you trying to solve?
    • Who do you hope to help?
    • In simple terms, what are you actually doing?
    • What have you found and what do you think that might mean?
    • Long term, how might your findings make a difference
  • Choose a featured image for your Story - nice bright, colourful images will help catch the attention of readers.

  • Click "Save" and you can then switch to 'Reader view' and see your live page!  You can come back at any time and add to your page, for example adding a perspective, inviting your co-authors, or linking to resources can all help you grow readership.


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