Epigeum has recently launched Disseminating your research, the latest programme in the Research Skills Toolkit. It contains two courses: ‘Getting Published’ and ‘Communicating your research with impact’. The programme is a valuable resource which helps researchers to identify the most cutting edge and effective ways to communicate their research findings to the wider world. To celebrate the launch, our Lead Advisor Professor Douglas Halliday shares his thoughts on the importance of communicating research, the rise of open access, and the aid of digital platforms in furthering your impact.
Professor Douglas Halliday is the current Director of the Multidisciplinary Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy at Durham University.
What is the purpose of research? For some, it is driven by curiosity and interest in a particular field and a desire to conduct rigorous, systematic informed investigations that develop new knowledge and new insights – the so called “original contribution to knowledge” that all early career researchers are familiar with. For others, it is to answer a specific research question, or to solve a problem, often where there is a pressing need to make a positive contribution to society. Whatever your motivation for undertaking research, there is a moral and ethical obligation to communicate your findings to those that will benefit from, or have an interest in them. This is why programmes such as Epigeum’s Disseminating your Research are fantastic for guiding researchers through the most effective communication for sharing research.
On a personal note, my first refereed journal paper was published in 1984. As a young researcher, part-way through my Phd, I was very excited about seeing my name in print. I also received through the post a pack of 20 reprints of my article printed in the journal style and bound into a booklet with a cover similar to the journal cover. My PhD supervisor advised that I should send these in the post to “important” researchers, which I duly did with a carefully worded cover letter. I heard nothing back from these 20 carefully selected recipients. I did, however, receive a number of postcards requesting copies of my paper; my repose was to post a photocopy of the journal paper. This excitement and process of publication still remains with me, although the publishing process has changed significantly!
Today’s strategies for engaging with people through different channels to promote research are many and varied. Often, the gold standard of academic publishing is still seen as getting a paper accepted in a prestigious, peer-reviewed international journal. This is a worthy objective, and can enhance career options. However, it can also take a considerable amount of time to complete and the chance of getting work accepted is much lower. We now live in a digital world bombarded by hundreds of sources of information every day: tweets, tiktoks, podcasts, videos, and numerous other communication channels. Are you able to resist the urge to look at your mobile device when a new notification comes in? Against this assault of information, what is the role of research? How is the voice of a researcher heard? And how can we harness the power of digital communication as researchers? It takes a specific skillset to ensure that those that have an interest in your work can find it easily, and in a form that is accessible and convenient.
This is the thinking behind Disseminating your Research, which explores the use of innovative, digital communication methods alongside more established publishing methods, for maximum impact. Combining more digital communication methods together with traditional publishing will increase your research to those who will benefit from your research, from other researchers to those working in other sectors such as industry, policy, law, finance, and the arts.
In the more traditional publishing model, open access has made academic research available to a wider audience and is a significant benefit to those that would struggle to pay the subscription costs of academic journals. Alongside open access, many journals now provide a digital repository accessible via a DOI link which provides access to data, information and analysis that can’t be included in the published article. Some journals provide Altmetric scores on the article web page, giving a convenient and accessible means of identifying interest in an article from a very wide range of sources including social media.
These tools can help you promote your research to a wider audience for greater impact and recognition. Work which achieves a high Altmetric Score is recognised as that which can trigger a range of conversations and discussions, easily facilitated via online platforms such as LinkedIn. The reach of this can be substantial, far more than the few hundred who might read the original published article, and – to briefly return to 1984 – a far cry from receiving an unsolicited reprint through the post.
However you choose to publish and disseminate your work, I encourage you to invest some time in exploring the potential of the many new digital tools available to researchers. A strategic and considered entry into this arena will get you noticed in positive ways that you may not have expected.
To learn more about Disseminating your Research and request a free trial visit the programme’s website page.