Research news stories

What makes a research news story?

There are many, many research activities happening and publications appearing each day across the University that could be considered newsworthy, but some stand out and are more likely to attract media coverage than others. Factors to consider when thinking about potential coverage include:  

  • How important is the story in its field? Is it a new discovery, the first time something has been done, or something that is unique? Is it a new technology or breakthrough that will have an impact on people’s lives in the future, or change our understanding of the world around us?  

  • Public interest: is it something that people can relate to personally or are likely to share with others? Is it something that can be explained in terms understandable to people without specialist knowledge of the field?  

  • Human interest: can the research be explained using examples of its societal applications? If it is a health story, having a patient case study can make it a far more compelling story.   

  • Timing: is the story dependent on a publication date or opening date, does it coincide with another announcement or anniversary, or is it something that ties neatly into the current news agenda or zeitgeist? 

  • Compelling multimedia: a good image or video can make all the difference in getting media coverage and achieving enhanced reach on social media.  

  • The quirkiness factor: is it something unusual or funny that’s likely to capture people’s imaginations?  

If you have a potential research news story get in touch as soon as possible: call 01865 280528 or email

What happens next?

If you or a member of your department would like to collaborate on a story or project that shows the positive impact Oxford research and innovation is having on people’s lives, have an exciting new research publication, or have been approached by the media and would like to discuss the opportunity – we would love to hear from you!​ 

It’s important to get in touch with us as soon as possible (for example, when your paper has been accepted, or even better, when you have submitted your paper) so that we have time to work with you, to draft and plan our media outreach, and to ensure that all parties involved have reviewed and approved the messaging. This also gives us time to consider potential multimedia elements, such as video or infographics, that could add value to the story and increase its reach and impact.  

Often when submitting new research to a journal, even before the paper is accepted is the best time to let your communications team know. News stories aren’t all prompted by new research papers, however; for all new developments, the earlier you can let your communications team know, the better. 

Every research project and story is different. With this in mind, we do not apply a one-size-fits-all approach and the potential activities below will depend on a range of factors. However, we do apply some broad principles to help us work with a range of colleagues and researchers from all around the University (and beyond).​ 

Assessing a research news story

Not all research stories can attract the attention of broader audiences via major, mainstream media outlets. We will always give our honest view on the most appropriate method of disseminating a piece of research – and we’ll aim to offer alternative suggestions if we don’t feel a press release is the best method of communication.   

These alternative routes may include a Feature on the Oxford website, a piece on the Oxford Medium blog, pitching an article to The Conversation, seeking coverage in specialist media or social media posts.  

We work in partnership with many communications officers in academic departments and divisions, whose roles often include elements of content production, external communications and media relations.  

Broadly, research news stories can be categorised into four tiers. Our approach varies according to what is most effective for each: 

  • Tier 1: New research with high potential to interest a wide range of audiences ​ 
  • Tier 2: New research with potential to interest a range of audiences​ 
  • Tier 3: New research with potential to interest a range of specific target audiences​ 
  • Tier 4: New research with potential to interest specific target audiences​

Read research stories on the University's News webpage



Contact us

News Office

+44 (0)1865 280528