University of Saskatchewan

August 30, 2014   

Op Ed Columns

Guidelines for Writing Expert Commentaries – Op Ed Columns

The Office of Research Communications has set up an Expert Commentary Partnership Program with newspapers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We have also forged important contacts at other leading Canadian newspapers. This partnership means that Research Communications is in ongoing contact with editors at newspapers and therefore aware of their exact needs regarding content, style, and print requirements for opinion/editorial (op/ed) pieces.

To make this partnership effective, we want to match thought-provoking, topical, and well-written commentary pieces written by U of S faculty with newspapers that have an interest in placing such commentaries.

The writing of these commentaries by faculty members is part of the U of S outreach and engagement mandate so we urge you to think about ways in which your research may contribute to wider social discussions and the debate of important, controversial, and/or complex issues.

Identifying a Potential Op Ed Piece

This can happen in several ways:

  • Research Communications may contact a faculty member directly to request that a piece about a topical issue that relates to the faculty member’s research.
  • A faculty member may contact Research Communications to suggest a potential op ed piece.
  • A newspaper may contact Research Communications to inquire as to whether one of our faculty could prepare an op ed piece on a particular issue.

Writing an Op Ed Piece

  • Identify a topic or issue you believe you are in a unique position to provide expert commentary on
  • Take a stance. A distinct perspective and clear opinions are crucial to an effective op ed commentary.
  • Distill your argument down to two or three main points.
  • Write a bare-bones-only draft of the commentary in clear, jargon-free language – including only what is absolutely essential to your argument.
  • Remember that in newspapers, paragraphs are usually single sentences.
  • Do your best to edit it down to 650-750 words. (For help at this point, contact Research Communications)

Services provided by Research Communications:

  • Proofreading/Editing
  • Suggestions for clarifying or distilling your argument
  • Placing your commentary with the right newspaper

Examples of Op Ed Pieces:

Murray Fulton/Richard Gray piece (Used with permission of The StarPhoenix)

For more information, please contact: research.communications@usask.ca