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How to develop content for practitioners

Does your journal speak to practitioners and policy-makers? Are you publishing content with the potential to make real-world impact? We spoke to Marcus Grant, Editor-in-Chief of Cities & Health, about an innovative content format designed to target policy-makers and practitioners.

Read on to find out how his ‘City Know-how’ articles are bringing academic content to a wider audience.

Taylor & Francis Scholarly Summit 2018

What inspired you to develop a format for practitioners? 

One of the key aims of Cities & Health is to support communication between researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, communities and decision-makers in cities.

To achieve this goal, we needed a new format which would resonate directly with our non-academic readership. Practitioners and professionals in city planning often don’t identify as ‘academics’, so they don’t engage with traditional research articles.

For inspiration, I looked at journals which targeted time-poor professionals, such as medical journals written for doctors. These readers need to stay up-to-date with developments in their sector, but don’t have the time to read lengthy academic articles. I saw that content in these journals was succinct, to-the-point, and followed a specific pattern. Researchers would :

  1. Identify the problem and current practice
  2. Summarize their research and its key findings
  3. Outline how readers could change their own practice, based on the new research findings

How does this new format appeal to practitioners?

To meet the specific needs of, and appeal to, our target audience, we called this new format ‘City Know-how’.

‘City Know-how’ articles provide a one-page, easy-to-read translation of complex academic articles, with a focus on the implications for policy and practice. They are written in simple language, without technical jargon or abbreviations, to maximize their readership potential.

I work with each author directly on their ‘City Know-how’ article to ensure that the end-product is right for the required audience, which is identified at the start of each article:

Like the medical journals I was inspired by, these summaries follow a clear structure which focus on how the findings of a piece of research could impact policy or practice.

How successful has this format been for Cities & Health?

Results and feedback on this format are already promising. But as the bank of ‘City Know-how’ articles continues to grow we hope to see more evidence of how useful they are for practitioners.

Sharing the ‘City Know-how’ articles through social media has been very successful. We’re seeing more and more Twitter users engaging with the content, and we regularly receive editorial coverage on an international city design network. Given that these articles are targeting a non-academic audience, it’s essential that we use a wide variety of different platforms to get the research out into the wider community.

We’re considering extending the ‘City Know-how’ format beyond just research articles. There’s so much we could do with this new format – we might look into working with partners or sponsors, and bringing in a wider team to support authors in writing these articles. When it comes to developing this format further, watch this space!

Find out more on content development with our introduction to developing high impact content.

July 10, 2018

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