On the 19th of October 2016, I attended a co-construction workshop for the DANDELION project for which I am an appointed Advisory Board Member. The aim of the workshop was to gather specialists and stakeholders to find out how to best valorise Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) research results.
Here is a video of that day to help you see how productive it was!
I must say I really liked the day, which allowed us to focus our expertise on communication and dissemination for a specific type of research outcomes. Indeed, Social Sciences and Humanities outcomes are often kept into experts circles and never reach the public, the private sector, NGOs or policy-makers. A persistant misbelief has it that those results are difficult to translate to stakeholders daily practice. I strongly disagree. To me, SSH research does have its specificities compared to “hard sciences”, but it is by no mean “more difficult” to share and make relevant. That’s where our creativity and expertise make all the difference!
Following from this theme discussed in the DANDELION workshop I will share with you 5 easy ways you can make your SSH research reach and diffuse to society at large.
Link your publications on your project website
First things first. You simply MUST have a project website. If you’re still doubting you need it, I recommend that you check our post on “3 things your project website should achieve“.
Now that you do have a website, you need to use it as a hub for all information surrounding your project. Create a Publication page where you will list all the publications of your team (and partners’ team if you’re into a collaborative project). You don’t have to share the PDFs of your papers, a simple link to the journal page will be enough to offer your readers to dwell into your hard work. The first step to insuring dissemination of your results is to make them available at the same place.
Maintain your website 5 years
Step 2 you should take is a continuation of the first one. You do research, so you know results usually stack up at the end of a project. Clear take-up of your results will only occur 1-3 years from your publication date, way beyond the due date of your project. If so, you must make sure your project website stays online for at least 5 years, even after the funding as run out. Let’s assume you followed Step 1: what good would it make if your website was to be taken down the day after funding ran out? You’d simply loose all the exposure for your publications.
Relate your results to your audience
Scientific publications are the outcome of the hard work you put into your research over several years. So why isn’t anyone picking it up? Well, to be fair, scientific publications are not easy to read, and it might be difficult for other stakeholders to see the added-value in your result. You have to do that extra-step to understand how your results can relate to others. During the DANDELION workshop, I was assigned to the private sector table. Turns out, all companies, whether they be very small or multnationals, can and would like to use your results. Humanities results can relate to consumer behaviour, market research, human resources etc. To ensure your results can be taken up, you have to make that extra effort (or ask your Communication partner/office) to make it relevant for others.
Use press relations cleverly
The media can actually help you a lot in making your results relevant and interesting to all kinds of communities out there. Indeed, chopping up your results into multiple press releases will help journalists into picking up the bits they think would most interest their readers. Once the journalists have been hooked, you don’t need to do much, apart from making yourself available for further discussion. Your results will be inserted into an article to highlight a point or at least relate to a subject that will interest the readers. Make sure you have an updated website and you might be able to see the drive created by the press clipping in your metrics!
Make your results visual
Let’s face it, raw data is not really appealing. Worse, it won’t help stakeholders understand how to make sense of your results. You can easily help your results attract more interest by asking a designer (or Sparks & Co!) to create infographics out of it. It will be very useful to insert into your website, your press releases, and to share on social media platforms!
Making SSH results useful for society and easy to pick-up is not more difficult than for hard sciences. Fortunately, here at Sparks & Co we have a team of expert communicators to help you with your communication; website, inforgraphics, press relations and more! If you are interested in personalised communication services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep an eye on our blogs for more interesting information and helpful tips on numerous different subjects!
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