Our Nature paper on the dating of the Mousterian and the end of the Neaderthals was published on the 21st of August. After a lot of intensive work, it was amazing to have the paper come out and the press and media coverage was beyond our expectations.
Because we were going to be away from Oxford on the day of the lifting of the embargo on the paper, the University Press Office decided to share the results of the paper with some of the trusted press people they know. The day before we left for holidays on August 3rd we did a full day of interviews and filming with the BBC and ITV news teams, and a video with the University press team. It all went really well but at the end of the day we were exhausted!
The press release and pictures were made available to the wider press on the Monday before the paper publication. We had 2 days of phonecalls and interviews with as many press people as we could, from the NY Times, to the Guardian, Times, US PBS, BBC World Service and local, Wall Street Journal, Channel 4 etc. It was quite challenging being on holiday, trying to get to the beach, when the emails and phonecalls were going on. I took a couple of calls in my swimming togs!!
The publication was due out online at 6:00 pm UK time on the 21st of August. As the moment approached I was on my computer in Thessaloniki in Greece the night before leaving for Russia, waiting with anticipation. Nature had included a special review article on the story with video, and there was a News and Views article accompanying the paper by William Davies. As the embargo lifted we could see on Google's news page the sudden explosion of stories coming online, and start to read what the journalists had written. It was really exciting. The paper was now all live online. I tweeted something about it and put an update on Facebook and I checked back later on to see the number of responses and views on the PalaeoChron site, as well as the news online. It was overwhelming! I think in the end our work was covered in more than 250 newspapers around the world.
Our research is funded by the taxpayer. We have an obligation to share our results and publicise them. The wide coverage tells us that people are very interested in the past and the story of modern humans and Neanderthals.
Now its back to work on the next paper...
You can read the paper online here. Check out our Media page for wider coverage and pictures.
Image shows BBC Science correspondent Pallab Ghosh in the accelerator lab in Oxford.