Saturday, October 21, 2017
Chronicle of Higher Education, Publicize Your Research:
Legislators and the public are often skeptical that higher-education tax dollars are being put to good use. Colleges see it as more important than ever, then, for academics to be able to explain their research in lively, accessible ways. At Michigan State University, a group of faculty members recently gathered to learn how.
The leaders of a three-hour workshop outlined a number of ways to to communicate beyond academic peers. Among them: 30-second elevator speeches, jargon-free writing, linking your work to real-world problems, and cultivating a certain level of media savvy. Equally important is a sense of urgency. "We need everyone to understand," says Stephen Hsu in a video that kicks off the training, "why what we do is important."
Michigan State, where Mr. Hsu is vice president for research and graduate studies, hopes that encouraging researchers to spread the word about their work will pay off. When faculty members position themselves as experts in topics that are hard to understand or at the center of heated public debate, it can enhance their stature as well as the university’s. And scholars who can talk clearly to policy makers and others about their work and why it matters can help maintain public support for research funding. That’s crucial at a time when some lawmakers and public officials use a narrow set of metrics to measure an institution’s effectiveness. ...
The university [offers] a series of voluntary workshops to help professors craft or sharpen their messages. After a senior public-relations manager attracted media attention to the work of some top researchers, the university decided to build on that momentum by teaching academics to talk to the public and the media about their work. Since January, more than 175 people have participated in sessions that cover topics like creating an online presence and doing media interviews.
As part of its communications and brand strategy, Michigan State makes available to its faculty this very helpful online Communications Toolkit For Academics with information on: