Published: 14-03-2023 13:12 | Updated: 14-03-2023 14:34

Close to 4 million reads in KI’s first two years with The Conversation

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KI researchers have penned more than 40 articles for the online news platform The Conversation since early 2021. Photos: Getty Images

Readership of news articles written by KI researchers for The Conversation jumped 62 percent on the year in 2022. Since KI became a member two years ago, 43 researchers have penned over 42 articles, reaching around 3.8 million readers worldwide. “I have never experienced such a response to my research before,” says postdoc Filip Gedin.

The Conversation is an international online news platform that is adding another way for academics to interact with the media. Here, academics themselves write popular science articles, with the help of a news editor. Many articles are republished by other media outlets, including by well-known brands like CNN, BBC, Washington Post and Le Monde.

The audience is mainly non-academic and tilts toward the younger side, so much emphasis is placed on making sure the language is tailored for a generalist audience.

Last year, topics covered by KI researchers included ways to reduce perennial tearing during birth, how long-term smell loss can affect you and why playing video games could boost intelligence in kids.

Two top reads centered on original pieces of research showing 1) that cannabis is no better than placebo for the treatment of pain and 2) that Alzheimer’s disease might have a surprising origin.

"Incredible reach"

Filip Gedin, a postdoc researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, penned the cannabis piece and says he was “overwhelmed” by the response to it.

“It got an incredible reach, far beyond anything I’ve ever done,” he says of the article which has amassed over 500,000 reads online. It was republished in major media outlets verbatim and amplified on their social media channels.

“News channels from all over the world got in touch. I did radio in New Zealand and Australia, and our article was covered in Poland, Denmark, the U.S., Canada and more. National Geographic did a follow up piece with our research as their cover story and that post alone got 500,000 likes on their Instagram,” Filip Gedin says.

Filip Gedin
KI Postdoc Filip Gedin wrote an article about the placebo effect in cannabis use for the treatment of pain, which was covered by major media outlets including National Geographic. Photo: Stefan Zimmerman / Kurt Mutchler

Harvard Medical School blogged about it and, the Swedish Research Council’s site for popular science articles, featured it. The research team was also invited to the Swedish Drug Policy Center (Narkotikapolitiskt center) to discuss their findings with policymakers.

“Being visible on platforms that major research funders pay attention to is invaluable to us. As is being able to speak directly to policymakers who have the ability to influence real change in the world,” Filip Gedin says. “We work so hard on these studies and then to see them have this impact is really rewarding – and I don’t think we would have had the same result without The Conversation.”

Translated into several languages

For Kariem Ezzat, a researcher at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, writing for The Conversation had been on the radar for some time. So when he and his study co-authors were asked to write a piece about their Alzheimer’s research, they jumped at the chance.

“More and more people are learning about research through this outlet, and I’m a strong believer in public outreach,” says Kariem Ezzat, who runs a popular science blogg. “I think it’s important that researchers explain their findings so people understand that we’re using the money for good and so that we can have continued support for research from the society and the government.”

Kariem Ezzat
Kariem Ezzat wrote an article that was translated into several languages including French. Photo: Private photo / Getty Images

The article was translated from English to French, netting nearly 800,000 views online. It was also translated to Spanish by a wire service and received significant distribution in Spain.

“The translations put us in touch with an audience we typically don’t have access to,” he says. “We also worked quite hard on avoiding technical language to make sure the research was easy to understand. I think that helped increase the readership and partly explains why the article took off on social media as well. It created a lot of publicity and interest in our research.“

Are you interested in writing for The Conversation?

Read more about ways to get involved on our staff portal or email your questions and ideas to KI’s communications office at As a member university, KI researchers can also attend workshops on popular science writing and finding the news potential in your research, offered by editors of The Conversation.

The next workshop is on April 20 at 9:30-11:30 am on Campus Solna, after which there will also be an opportunity for one-on-one sessions with an editor of The Conversation. Please visit our staff portal for more information on how to register.