New forms of conversations and learning have never been more pertinent than in 2020. Newly founded initiative, The Talking Paper Project, aims to offer roundtable-like episodes with international water researchers in an easily accessible, shareable video format. Mohamed Hassan Tawfik, PhD student and IWA Publishing Open Access Ambassador, tells us more about the mission of the project.


Each paper, report, and article is a story that we want to share with others, a story that summarizes what we consider a problem that needs further investigation (i.e. research question), through tailor-made or existing research tools (i.e. methodology) to reach a conclusion that adds value to previous research work and new advancement in that field of science. However, this sense of storytelling has been missed from much-written research work: due to the often “dry” structure/composition of current writing approaches, the limited word count that prevents the researcher from providing all the details, or perhaps the absence of researchers from the “scene”.

The Talking Paper Project – as the name suggests – aims to communicate and link the perspectives of academics, government officials, donors, practitioners, managers…etc. regarding specific development-related topics, particularly in the water sector and blue-green systems. Instead of writing several pages in journal articles, reports, opinion articles, and policy briefs, speakers will be invited to share their thoughts in less than 2 minutes through this roundtable-like initiative that presents an attractive platform for science-communication.

The Talking Paper project aims to break the barriers that limit access to research and knowledge in general due to the static nature of journal articles, reports, briefs …etc. It also aims to feature the multi-disciplinary nature of research in the water sector by introducing diverse perspectives on the same topic within a few minutes, which would intrigue further questions and discussions. The most interesting part of the Talking Paper project is featuring the minds behind research that drive the water sector forward, both from developed and developing countries.

The Project commenced as a quest by a PhD student in the water sector to bring together the diverse and complicated points of views from a variety of stakeholders on wastewater re-use topics.  The project soon expanded to be an initiative that brings different opinions to an independent platform that acts as a roundtable discussion, crossing the borders that often exist due to the limitations of space and time. The Project takes the form of an online series with multiple seasons, each season discuss a specific thematic area in several episodes. Each episode hosts a specialized and diverse group of attendees who share separately their opinions on a set of pre-prepared questions that serve the overall objective of the season. Later, speakers’ opinions are re-grouped in an 5-8 minutes episode that show a collectively holistic view of the speakers on the topic.

Talking Paper Project episode themes

First 5 thematic episodes planned for The Talking Paper Project

As a means for the project to communicate different perspectives, each thematic episode is planned to be co-hosted/sponsored by different organization(s), based on their interest. This variety of engaged organizations is a means to promote a sharing-learning environment, where there are no dominating perspectives. The project promotes  Open Access research outputs to a whole new level by encouraging the audience to communicate with speakers on a much deeper level than written content, e-mails, and organizational newsletters.


The first episode on Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs) in Water and Wastewater Governance is available now on YouTube click here to watch now.


Find out more about the project – and share your ideas:

Discover IWA Publishing’s exciting new Open Access Ambassador Programme click here.

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