Research Engagement and ImpactTips from a first time interviewee

microphone and headphones

In our ongoing series around Engagement and Impact, we change tact from the focus on one-on-one/direct engagement with communities to the impact of getting one's research out via the media. Dr David Armstrong, Lecturer in Teacher Education: Special Education, was recently interviewed by Radio Adelaide on the final report from the South Australian Parliamentary Select Committee into Access to the Education System for Students with Disabilities. His interview can be heard on the Radio Adelaide site. The Research Services Office approached David to share his experience on being interviewed by the media. Below is the interview we conducted with David.

David ArmstrongDavid Armstrong


How do you go about getting an interview?

Journalists from the media typically contact me for comment on a news story or to request a written submission about an issue. It’s important, I think, to have a strategy for developing your media profile as a researcher. My strategy has been to be available for ongoing comment in my areas of research (special and inclusive education, mental health in schools, dyslexia) to SA outlets (Adelaide Advertiser; local radio, InDaily) but with a view to establish myself interstate as a stepping stone to access to the national media. This is starting to pay off with radio interviews for interstate outlets and contact with national print media.  


Were you contacted first?

Colleagues very kindly forwarded my name to local journalists if the enquiry was in my area. I have reciprocated. It’s important to work as a team in sharing opportunities.


What assistance did you get beforehand?

When I came to Flinders I had assistance from the excellent Flinders education journalist (Tania Bawden) who facilitated interviews. In the past I led a funded education initiative (European Social Fund) with the homeless and in association with a major charity.


This initiative was innovative and high-profile, so the local and national media/celebrities/politicians were in contact on a regular basis. HRH Prince Charles visited, for example, and we spoke with the media present, so I am probably unusual in the amount of experience I have had in this respect. Interviews on the Radio and on TV require a different skillset from writing articles for the print media. I would recommend asking for assistance and advice from the Office of Communication and Engagement for anybody who is asked to appear in TV or undertake a radio interview and if it’s their first time.


Did you seek any out?

Yes, I have sought out journalists and taken a proactive approach. Registering for The Conversation is necessary – if you wish to write for it. I have recently had success engaging with politically influential state stakeholders in my field and by using Twitter but this needs to be carefully planned and executed.


What was the overall experience like?

It’s been positive and exciting. I enjoy communicating my research and saying why it’s designed to help improve the lives of children or young people with disabilities.

One important new organisation which has helped me is the Media Centre for Education Research Australia (MCERA): they have facilitated contact with the media so that it seems a less random and more positive experience.


What challenges were there?

A phone call will arrive when I have just arrived home or when I am in the middle of a meeting. If you don’t pick up the call often the journalist will ring another contact and you won’t be asked for comment or a story. If you pick up the phone you have an opportunity: you can help dispel myths; communicate key findings of your important research; and share knowledge with the community. The only other problem is that this takes time away from the everyday demands of the job (teaching, research etc.) so it’s important to find balance in media engagement.


The RSO thanks David for his time in sharing this information with the Flinders community.


Where to go if you are contacted by the media?

The Office of Communication and Engagement at Flinders offers media training in group and one-on-one sessions.

Registration with the Australian Science and Media Centre is encouraged. They provide training and advice and are very helpful in gaining access to mainstream media coverage.

Science Media Savvy provides some excellent top tips for researchers.

The Conversation has experienced journalists and editors who can provide assistance and advice to those wanting to start out or improve their writing communication skills in respect to print media. Flinders is a supporter of The Conversation and encourages our academics to get involved.

RiAus, based here in Adelaide, and Science in Public run workshops on media training throughout the year around Australia.


More posts in "Research Engagement and Impact" series:

  1. (13 Dec 2018) ECR Spotlight - Dr Ben Lewis
  2. (29 Nov 2018) Impact Seed Funding – supporting our Flinders ECRs – Dr David Smith
  3. (29 Nov 2018) Research Roundup - 29 November 2018
  4. (15 Nov 2018) Impact Seed Funding – supporting our Flinders ECRs – Dr Lua Perimal-Lewis
  5. (14 Nov 2018) Research Roundup - 15 November 2018
  6. (01 Nov 2018) Flinders research from an undergraduate class to a record breaking swim attempt
  7. (01 Nov 2018) Research Roundup - 1 November 2018
  8. (31 Oct 2018) ECR Spotlight - Dr Bev Rogers
  9. (31 Oct 2018) Flinders researchers trip to Germany on bringing science to market
  10. (18 Oct 2018) Melbourne and Canberra fellowships advance research and leadership skills for Flinders researcher
  11. (18 Oct 2018) Impact Seed Funding – supporting our Flinders ECRs - Dr Linlin Ma
  12. (18 Oct 2018) Research Roundup - 18 October 2018
  13. (04 Oct 2018) How can Australian innovation create new industries and jobs?
  14. (04 Oct 2018) Research Roundup - 4 October 2018
  15. (27 Sep 2018) Saving Nemo at Ngeringa Winery
  16. (20 Sep 2018) Assisting the UN and developing nations on how to measure wellbeing
  17. (20 Sep 2018) Equity Hub to assist translating research into change
  18. (06 Sep 2018) Steps to improve gender diversity in coastal geoscience and engineering
  19. (23 Aug 2018) Finding the invisible traces
  20. (09 Aug 2018) Diving in Deep to strengthen links with UNESCO members
  21. (09 Aug 2018) Impact Seed Funding – supporting our Flinders ECRs
  22. (09 Aug 2018) Older Adults engaging for a better quality of life
  23. (08 Aug 2018) The scientist’s guide to a successful career in academia
  24. (27 Jul 2018) Flinders aiming to lead the blueeconomy
  25. (27 Jul 2018) Can you have a conversation with a computer?
  26. (12 Jul 2018) Flinders linking with arts and culture to explore their real value
  27. (12 Jul 2018) WHO internship for Flinders researcher
  28. (28 Jun 2018) Flinders linkage grants success
  29. (28 Jun 2018) Flinders’ led project top in Radiation Research
  30. (18 Jun 2018) Nothing going to waste - Flinders NIH Success
  31. (18 Jun 2018) ECR Spotlight - In Conversation with Dr Sam Elliott
  32. (29 May 2018) Flinders leading the reviews to improve remote health
  33. (17 May 2018) Generating conversation through The Conversation
  34. (15 May 2018) ECR Spotlight - Dr Ashok Manoharan 2018
  35. (03 May 2018) Flinders’ Archaeologist off to Cambridge for a year
  36. (26 Mar 2018) New chapter of Indigenous history told through food
  37. (08 Mar 2018) Flinders linking with Indigenous groups to explore aspects of colonial Australia
  38. (22 Feb 2018) ECR Spotlight - Ian Moffat
  39. (21 Feb 2018) Flinders working to Beat Cancer
  40. (25 Jan 2018) Why are little penguins declining?
  41. (25 Jan 2018) Scimex - Register now to be a part of breaking news
  42. (24 Jan 2018) ECR Spotlight - Alice Clement
  43. (21 Dec 2017) A Flinders first - automated launch and recovery for autonomous underwater vessels
  44. (13 Dec 2017) 2017 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Early Career Researchers
  45. (11 Dec 2017) ECR Spotlight - Vishnu KK Nair
  46. (06 Dec 2017) NHMRC success for Flinders
  47. (24 Nov 2017) Aiming to improve the health, education and wellbeing of children
  48. (17 Nov 2017) Accelerating the Interplay Wellbeing Framework
  49. (16 Nov 2017) 2018 Visiting International Research Fellows to Flinders
  50. (15 Nov 2017) ECR Spotlight - Ashokkumar Manoharan
  51. (15 Nov 2017) 2018 Flinders Endeavour Scholars and Fellows announced
  52. (14 Nov 2017) Time to Bragg about science writing
  53. (10 Nov 2017) Flinders Forensic Science cleans up at Awards
  54. (10 Nov 2017) Flinders successes in the recent ARC grant round
  55. (30 Oct 2017) Students Present Around the World
  56. (20 Oct 2017) Over $8 Million to Flinders from the National Palliative Care round
  57. (19 Oct 2017) ECR Spotlight - Sam Schultz
  58. (17 Oct 2017) Flinders' Fresh Scientists in the Pub
  59. (11 Oct 2017) Indigenous knowledge, not just for Indigenous communities
  60. (06 Oct 2017) Leading Drug and Alcohol researchers at Flinders’ NCETA secure $1.7 million in funding
  61. (05 Oct 2017) ECR Spotlight - Margaret Shanafield
  62. (28 Sep 2017) Our Distinguished Geographer
  63. (07 Sep 2017) ECR Spotlight - George Karpetis
  64. (01 Sep 2017) Eureka! Prize for blood test for bowel cancer recurrence
  65. (22 Aug 2017) Different environments, different DNA, different dolphins?
  66. (17 Aug 2017) ECR Spotlight - Dr Harriet Whiley
  67. (03 Aug 2017) ECR Spotlight - Giselle Rampersad
  68. (17 Jul 2017) Time to Scope your research - FAST
  69. (17 Jul 2017) Time to Scope your research - Hoverflies
  70. (13 Jul 2017) Tips from a first time interviewee
  71. (12 Jul 2017) Saving Nemo at the Star of Greece
  72. (07 Jul 2017) Invasion of the European crabs
  73. (20 Jun 2017) Fossil finds bring Australia's evolutionary history to life
  74. (07 Jun 2017) Peer Prize up for grabs
  75. (02 Jun 2017) Tracking the marine ecosystems in South Australia
  76. (29 May 2017) Be Your Best for Impact
  77. (18 May 2017) Aiming to catch criminals as never before
  78. (05 May 2017) Excavating with and in a Community
  79. (29 Apr 2017) What does engagement look like? Community-initiated research.
  80. (24 Apr 2017) Planning for one of the world’s youngest nations
  81. (07 Apr 2017) Pitching ON tasty seaweed jelly
  82. (29 Mar 2017) Best and Brightest for Hearts
  83. (27 Mar 2017) The Best Student Publications - Flinders 2016 edition
  84. (16 Mar 2017) From workshop to book - Underwater archaeology and 3D
  85. (21 Dec 2016) Recent Funding Success
  86. (21 Dec 2016) Research Impact - Point of Care Testing
  87. (21 Dec 2016) New ARC College of Experts
  88. (20 Dec 2016) Flinders Celebrates - 2016 Research Successes
  89. (19 Dec 2016) Vice-Chancellor Awards for Research Excellence
  90. (19 Dec 2016) Cardiology, Mental Health Projects among NHMRC Grant Success