Write for us

What is the Impact and Innovation Lab?

The UK Data Service’s Impact and Innovation Lab is a space for exploring and sharing innovative ways of working with social, population and economic data, including that held by the UK Data Service. We encourage those who work with such data from a wide variety of backgrounds – academic; international, national and local government; communities and others – to contribute posts.

We welcome all sorts of posts which explore these new approaches, for instance by recounting problems that were encountered and different methods which were attempted (even though which didn’t work as hoped – this can still help others learn). Contributors are also welcome to write step-by-step how-to guides or share video walk throughs of innovating with data.

We aim to appeal to a wide range of readers in order to raise the profile of the high-quality social, population and economic data held by the UK Data Service as well as new ways of working with data.

We are committed to providing an outlet for diverse voices working with or benefiting from social, population and economic data and welcome contributions from women or those from minority communities.

How can I contribute to the Impact and Innovation Lab?

Please get in touch by emailing neil.dymond-green @jisc.ac.uk with an outline of your idea. In general, it’s better to approach us with a specific idea rather than an already-written piece as it will help us to work together to shape something which reflects what you want to share as well as being accessible to readers of the Lab.

Once we’ve agreed a topic and timescale, please type your draft post in Microsoft Word or OpenDocument format or share a Google Doc with us.

When you submit a draft post to use, you acknowledge that we may need to edit it. This may include adding an introductory paragraph, shortening the post, splitting it into multiple posts and tweaking language to make the post more accessible.

We will always share the edited version with you before publishing to ensure that your work has not been misrepresented, but the editor will have the final say on the writing. If we cannot agree or you don’t approve of the changes we make, you will always retain the right to withdraw your article.

We publish articles under the Creative Commons Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0 License, meaning it can be reshared with attribution but others do not have the right to remix your material.

Things to think about when writing for the Lab:

  • Don’t worry about the title – if you have something really eye-catching, feel free to share it, but it’s not essential
  • Start with your headline points in the first paragraph– many readers won’t read past the first paragraph, so this is your chance to hook them in (if you need examples, look at how newspaper articles – in print or online – are structured
  • Keep all your paragraphs short, with no more than four or five sentences
  • It might help to think of your post as a story. You are taking readers on a journey through your idea or findings, perhaps being challenged by problems en route or making a surprising discovery which moves you and your work forward
  • Make your writing stand on its own. It shouldn’t rely too much on external links
  • Aim for your writing to work for a wide range of readers – try to make any technical instructions as clear and simple as possible

We have no definite expectations of length, but do keep your writing to the most important information so as to keep readers engaged. You may not need to include every piece of information or all parts of the process you went through if they are common activities, simple to summarise or could more helpfully be linked to in a separate article.

How can I illustrate my point?

It’s worth remembering that high-quality images which tell a story or help illustrate a point help encourage readers, so think about what sort of images might best accompany your post. Bear in mind that a great image can also be useful when publicising your post on social media.

Please do include screenshots, flow charts, graphs, charts, figures, infographics or other materials to make your article clearer to understand.

It’s helpful if you can provide these as separate files and with any original data in Excel, OpenDocument or csv format.

Photos are also welcome. We use images with a Creative Commons licence, unless permission has been specifically granted. These sorts of images can be sourced through https://search.creativecommons.org  or https://unsplash.com

If you can’t find or don’t want to specify an image, we will find one to go with your article.

How do I reference other materials?

The Impact and Innovation Lab uses links to other articles, reports, articles on the web etc. Please type or paste the link in brackets at the point in your post that you’d like us to link.

Please try and avoid linking to sites which require payment to access an article.

Can I talk about myself?

We want our readers to know that there is a person behind the words on the screen, so we encourage contributors to write a short biography (three sentences max) to go at the foot of the article.

We would love to add a headshot of you as well, but only if you’re not too shy!