Call for data-led science stories by INASP-supported researchers for publication on SciDev.Net
Leading science and development news organization SciDev.Net is working with INASP to invite researchers to submit ideas for publication on our global website. One idea will be chosen.
We are looking for original science research that can be turned into thought-provoking visual content (such as infographics) for the SciDev.Net website.
The term ‘data journalism’ can sound complicated, but it simply means a story generated by interrogating data to discover new evidence. Media organizations increasingly choose to display their data-led story through engaging visualizations, to make science research more accessible. The skill of a data journalist is to find a simple, incisive story hidden behind complex numbers.
What we’re looking for
We’re looking for researchers with a good story to tell about the developing world (the global South), which is supported by data.
For example, we worked with a group of researchers who mapped dams in Africa. Combining their data with existing data on malaria outbreaks, they made the link between malaria incidence and proximity to the dam basins where mosquitoes breed. A simple idea, but with wide ramifications for malaria prevention.
How the process works
We take your data presented, say, on an excel spreadsheet. The data needs to be relatively clean (i.e. consistently formatted in columns) but we can help clean it up. We then enter this data into in-house software that visualizes it, i.e. turns it into basic graphs and charts. We work with you to pin down the story these graphs are telling. We can then add the data to more sophisticated software to create interactive graphs. We will help you write content to explain it, and add images and audio to bring it alive, to end up with an engaging visual feature.
- The global South includes: Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, South East Asia and the Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, South Asia.
- Your subject should fall within SciDev.Net’s core areas of interest, including: agriculture, gender, climate change, clean energy, health, environment, food security, governance, and innovation for development.
- Hot topics include: water, disease, farming, renewables, education, risk management, low-tech innovation, high-tech innovation. Read more on our website.
- Your work can be specific to a region, but must be interesting to a global audience.
What we need from you
- Datasets don’t have to be large, but do need to be relatively clean, i.e. consistently formatted to be readily understandable and straightforward to insert into visualization software. We can help.
- A basic story or narrative inherent in the data. We find this is vital to creating compelling journalism. For example, if your research is on the number of people with higher education emigrating from Africa over 20 years, if the numbers have stayed pretty much the same, it’s difficult to find a story.
- Enthusiasm to work with the media and a clear idea why the story is important to the developing world.
- Research must be in English.
- Individual or team work. Original work, not previously published in mainstream media, although research published in scholarly journals or presented at conferences is welcomed
- Research must be peer-reviewed.
- Research must be applicable to the global South.
- You don’t have to be a senior researcher or widely published, but you do need a new idea with a vision.
- You can live anywhere in the world. There is no need to visit the UK.
What SciDev.Net provides
The editorial, design and digital teams at SciDev.Net will work with you on the process from conception to production. We offer:
- a global platform
- expertise of turning data into good journalism
- support from digital producers and editors
- light media training where required
- an in-house marketing and social media team to promote your work
Illustrating your data through a media output does not mean you lose control of its accuracy. We have already worked with scientists on their datasets and worked closely with them to ensure accurate reporting. We will discuss ideas and results with you to make sure you are happy with the conclusions.
Working with the media is good training and can benefit your career. The experience should improve your communication skills.
Our most recent project, The Hidden Digital Divide, published in September 2015, has already attracted around 12,000 website views to wide acclaim. The project has been shortlisted in the Information is Beautiful Awards 2015.
How we produced The Hidden Digital Divide:
We wanted to investigate the global digital divide between people who have connectivity and those who don’t, a gap the proliferation of mobile phones was meant to narrow. We used data from the past 30 years showing mobile subscription and internet connectivity and discovered that, while globally more people own mobiles, many more are left offline. As internet penetration improves slowly in the developing world, it is racing ahead in the developed world, meaning poorer countries can never catch up. Our conclusion is that the digital divide is increasing over time rather than narrowing. The case studies tell the stories of some of the people represented by the data.
Our total global audience in 2014 was 78 million. So far in 2015, we have attracted a global audience of around 40 million, or an average quarterly audience of more than 15.5 million. Our content is regularly republished by global media outlets such as the, BBC, Bloomberg, the Guardian, Huffington Post, MSN and Yahoo as well as regional information networks such as AllAfrica, and Asian Scientist, generating a potential global audience of 47 million per month.
Please email your ideas to Lou.firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible and at the latest by 4 January 2016. SciDev.Net will contact the chosen researcher.