Advocacy How Tos


  • Porter's Principles. Every advocate can learn from the Hon. John E. Porter's tips for setting up a meeting with an elected official. Also includes important messages to get across in the meeting. 
  • Sample Letter to the Editor. Writing a letter to the editor is an effective way to make your voice heard.  

Plan what you are going to say

  • Write no more than three sentences about how research saves lives and money
  • Include just a few details or examples to support your statement
  • Use Research!America issue briefs as examples
  • Choose different examples for different audiences. For example, when presenting to someone that has a child with diabetes, use examples from the diabetes issue brief about how research helps save lives.

Work with government officials

  • Talk with the government relations staff at your organization, or professional groups to which you belong, to learn how you might work with them
  • Learn which state and federal officials are involved in research and related issues
  • Use online advocacy resources to learn how to contact elected officials and to access tools that can help, such as how to write a letter to a legislator
  • Invite your senators and your representative in Congress to visit your lab/clinical center to see how taxpayer dollars get spent in their state/district

Work with the media

  • Talk with your organization's media relations/communications office to learn how they can help you reach out to members of the media. Volunteer to be a spokesperson on your area of expertise.
  • Contact reporters who cover research and related issues and suggest new sources or story ideas they might consider
  • Write a letter to the editor expressing your viewpoint-positive or negative-of a story about research you read; be brief and use examples and poll data.

Say "thank you"

  • Thank officials for their actions that are supportive of research and science
  • Send a thank-you letter to your senators and your representative in Congress when you receive federal funding support. Mention that what you have in common is working in the public's interest
  • Thank reporters for unbiased coverage or explaining an issue well to the public

Keep Advocating

  • Successful advocacy happens over time; there are no overnight successes
  • Promote medical research regularly through your organization's newsletter/Web site
  • Take pride in being an advocate for health research -- as much pride as you take in being a researcher in the public's interest

Policy Contacts

If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana