The Conversation, an independent, nonprofit publisher, recently gained Boise State University as a supporting member. Numerous experts at Boise State have already contributed to the publication of their research.
Cienna Madrid, research promotions and communications specialist at Boise State, explained in an email that The Conversation encourages academics to write timely articles about their areas of expertise for the general public and allows media outlets to repurpose their content for free on their sites.
According to Madrid, The Conversation helps academics explain their research to the general audience instead of other academics. Additionally, she said it helps the public understand how universities contribute valuable research to society.
“We have had faculty writing for The Conversation for the past several years and had very good experiences working with editors there,” Madrid wrote. “In addition, their research was disseminated to thousands–sometimes hundreds of thousands–of readers.”
Troy Rohn, professor of biological sciences, is one of the several faculty members at Boise State who has contributed to The Conversation. In his article, he discusses Alzheimer’s disease and, more specifically, smaller subsets of cases such as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Rohn explained that in a recent survey, he found that Americans 60 years or older were most afraid of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, in the article Rohn emphasized the fact that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, and there are clearer symptoms to distinguish Alzheimer’s from normal aging. The article also highlighted a clinical trial happening in Columbia, involving a family and community that carries the Alzheimer’s mutation in their genetics.
Rohn’s article has had a considerable impact around the globe, with over 125,000 reads since the year it was published.
Jen Schneider, associate professor in the School of Public Service, was also a contributor to The Conversation, along with other co-authors. According to Schneider, the article they wrote was based on their book “Under Pressure,” written in 2016. The book detailed how the coal industry responded through advertisements and campaigns to a historic bottoming out of the coal market in the United States.
According to Schneider, The Conversation is important for academics to think about how to communicate their work to a broader audience.
“It’s a hugely useful exercise to get clear on the heart of your work and then to explain it to an audience of people who have different backgrounds, different forms of expertise and different values. It clarified my own work to myself, really,” Schneider wrote.
Schneider added that research is fundamentally about trying to make visible social processes that might have been formerly taken for granted, or invisible.
“If we’re not making a contribution to how people operate in the world, or see it, or experience it, then I think we do have some soul-searching to do,” Schneider wrote.