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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

Communicating your research can feel like a new discovery. Many of the researchers we meet have found that their passion to engage and to discuss their subject matter has emerged as a mainly solo pursuit, perhaps inspired by a passionate colleague, favourite television programme or an exhibition visit that occurred by chance along the way. This can leave many researchers unaware that the communication of research to others and their engagement with it has been a long-standing issue within research professions. The history of communicating research is

in Creative research communication
Theory and practice

Considering how to communicate your research or engage others with the latest science, social science or humanities research? This book explores new and emerging approaches to engaging people with research, placing these in the wider context of research communication. Split into three sections, Creative Research Communication explores the historical routes and current drivers for public engagement, before moving on to explore practical approaches and finally discussing ethical issues and the ways in which research communication can contribute to research impact.

Starting from the premise that researchers can and ought to participate in the public sphere, this book provides practical guidance and advice on contributing to political discourse and policymaking, as well as engaging the public where they are (whether that is at the theatre, at a music festival or on social media). By considering the plurality of publics and their diverse needs and interests, it is quite possible to find a communications niche that neither offers up bite-sized chunks of research, nor conceptualises the public as lacking the capacity to consider the myriad of issues raised by research, but explains and considers thoughtfully the value of research endeavours and their potential benefits to society.

It’s time for researchers to move away from one-size fits all, and embrace opportunities for creative approaches to research communication. This book argues for a move away from metrics and tick box approaches and towards approaches that work for you, as an individual researcher, in the context of your own discipline and interests.

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Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

present an evaluation of the evidence to reach a well-justified answer to the question. Below is a much more successful conclusion written by the same student for an essay in which she was asked: ‘To what extent did colonialism transform Indian society?’ In conclusion, colonialism did transform Indian society; however, the extent can be exaggerated. This essay establishes how the history of pre-colonial and colonial India is a constructed history. The bias and oversimplification of colonialist writers tends to produce a static pre-colonial India

in The craft of writing in sociology
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

projects that seek to combine research communication with arts and craft activities, and there is a history of using these approaches in health education, to give one example, which could usefully inform the design and development of such activities. In the context of research communication, then, craft offers an opportunity to engage people with science which can align well with discussions around public engagement with science and technology ( Chapter 8 ), and projects are emerging, such as MS: The Big Knit, that involve participants in a crafting activity (in

in Creative research communication
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

part of the history of an author’s scholarly output. In addition, we can locate a particular author’s text(s) within a broader context of academic scholarship. Academics tend to work within a specific field of research, for example in the area of gender and sexuality, or ethnicity and race, and develop a line of argument and sets of data that are broadened and deepened over time. This work is often articulated in dialogue with other scholars and theorists. Indeed, an author frequently chooses existing approaches against which to distinguish their own work, or

in The craft of writing in sociology
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

citizens. Such democracies have been plagued throughout history with questions surrounding who can participate (with regard to wealth, property, title, occupation, literacy, gender and race) and how active that participation should be. Historically, these approaches have been associated to two main models of democracy: direct or participatory democracy, where citizens are directly involved in decision making, and liberal or representative democracy, in which elected officials represent the interests and views of citizens (Held, 2006 ). Whilst democracies now largely

in Creative research communication
Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

taking place for over a hundred years in the United States with the annual Christmas bird count. Archaeology, astronomy and natural history have strong traditions of involving volunteers in research and/or existing communities with significant interests and research skills – communities which have sometimes been termed ‘amateur’ scientists. However, the value of citizen contributions to formal research is increasingly recognised, and a large number of projects are springing up around the world that include contributions from interested amateurs and local communities

in Creative research communication
Owen Price and Lauren Walker

Principles of Ethical Research Owen Price and Lauren Walker Chapter overview By definition, research seeks to explore something that is unknown. This uncertainty means there is always the possibility of harm arising from research. There are many examples in both near and distant history of serious harm to participants as a consequence of research, including permanent disability and death. This is why it is of great importance that research projects are informed by sound ethics, properly planned, approved by an independent ethical board and rigorously monitored

in A research handbook for patient and public involvement researchers
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

read and write more effectively needs to be taken seriously – something you should truly value. Do not, then, be shy about telling future employers, for example, that sociology – like history or philosophy – is a discipline in which the skills of learning to write and to read critically are honed and prized. In the meantime, writing is the main way you will demonstrate that you have successfully grasped what is needed to be awarded your degree. Remembering who you are writing for at which stage, and why, will be invaluable when ensuring that you do not

in The craft of writing in sociology
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

audio-based research communication projects, some of which also engage with the mainstream media, such as The Naked Scientists, Astronomy Cast and Footnoting History. Producing high-quality video, particularly on your own, is more challenging. Given the large amounts of high-quality video online, it is worth considering whether you can produce material of sufficient quality before embarking on video blogs. By and large, we are not talking about putting your recorded lectures online, although there are many fine examples of public lectures that have been

in Creative research communication