Disseminating research outcomes
Tell us what the expected outcomes of your research are, and how you intend to share results with researchers and the community.
If you expect that your research project is going to produce results that matter, it’s more than likely you’ll want to share them with the people that they will matter to. Some would say that you have a duty to share what you’ve found with the world.
There are a number of well-worn communication channels that you can also traverse as a researcher. Before you know which to go down, you’ll need to know who you’re trying to communicate with.
We’ll break this down a bit over the course of this step by looking at the different pathways you could take to reach a particular audience.
For good or ill, the most common group of people that researchers are interested in sharing their results with is other researchers.
Other researchers are likely to benefit from your results when they are in the literature-review phase and are often more likely than others to take an active interest.
Researchers typically communicate with one another formally via books, journal papers and conferences. You’re unlikely to publish a book based on your first research project, but a journal or conference paper is a definite possibility.
So which journal or conference should you target? That depends, primarily, on which group of researchers you’re trying to reach. Take a look at your literature review. Did any journals or conferences come up a few times? Does your favourite author publish in the same place? If so, take a look at their website and read up on what they’re about to see if it’s a good fit. It might also be a good idea to take a look at the expertise of their editorial board and ask if they would be qualified to review your research.
A secondary consideration is the kudos you will get publishing in this particular journal. Journals are often ranked by how often other researchers cite (refer back to) the articles within them. Those that receive the most citations are often considered the most prestigious. In theory, this is because everyone wants to publish with them, which allows them to choose only the best work.
The problems with this theory are self-evident, but nonetheless, publishing in a widely cited journal can do wonders for your research career and is probably a good indication that your work will enjoy a large readership.
Take a look at SciMago to see how specific journals rank against others in the same category.
The general public
Sometimes your research can impact on a lot of different people. It may be that the general public will benefit from learning about your research.
In that case, having your research covered in the media will bring your work to a broad audience.
While it can be easier to get a journalist’s attention if you’ve already published in an academic journal, don’t expect journalists to sit around reading journals. There is no foolproof way to get a journalist’s attention, but you won’t do so without persistence and ensuring that your results are written in a way that a non-specialist can understand.
Often, you’ll need to pitch a story to a journalist. Find one who has written about similar research in the past and send them an email. Write them a pitch about your research that is likely to interest them. In your email, be very clear and transparent about your research and what you’re hoping to get out of the story. Tell them why you sent it to them, specifically. Most importantly, keep your pitch clear, concise and get straight to the point.
Social media can be a good way to get your research out there, but it is also a whole new ballgame. Keep your message clear, targeted and engage with people who share your interest. Make sure you have some more detailed material to link to, such as a blog. Social media is increasingly being utilised to communicate with others researchers, even if the reason for doing so as an attempt to lift citations.
A particular community group or industry
Apart from using social media to target interested parties, have a look at industry reports and newsletters in your field. These publications have a very particular audience, and their editors are often very thankful for additional content heading their way, so - especially if your research has already been published in a journal or conference - this could be an easy win.
Presenting to a local community group such as a school board, church group or other community organisation is also often fairly straightforward to organise. If the group holds regular meetings, you could ask to be placed on the agenda. Find out who the leaders are and give them a phone call.
Finally, writing letters to your local elected representative - at any level of government - is a more effective way of getting a response from government than many people recognise. It’s your democratic right, so don’t be afraid to write.
Tell us who your audience is and how you will communicate your research results with them.
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