Communicating research

Published on January 31, 2023   42 min
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Hello and welcome to this HSTalks presentation about communicating research. My name is Tony Greener, and you may well be wondering why on Earth I am qualified to talk to you about communicating research or indeed anything else come to that.
The answer is that I've been in the communications business or the profession of communications all my working career ever since I graduated with a degree in History and English, and I'm sure History and English have a great deal to contribute towards the whole process of communication. So, I am a senior lecturer at the Brighton University Business School in the UK. I recently retired from New York University in London as a professor of organizational communications, which has been a role I held for about nine years, and that taught me a great deal more about communicating than I frankly expected it to. I thought that by my advanced age, I knew most of what there was to know about communicating professionally. But in fairness, and NYU taught me a good deal more as well.
Let us assume for the purposes of this discussion that you are either a doctoral student in the process of finalizing your thesis, or you've already perhaps had the whole process of affirmation of your doctorate and you've become a doctor and you've got a thesis which is either published already or is in the process of being published, and it may well disappoint you to hear, that according to a colleague of mine at the University of Sussex, which is in the UK, the average readership of the finished doctoral thesis, this is a published one, would be on average about 4.3 people. Now, you can, of course, query what 0.3 of a person might be. And I want to stress also that this is rather anecdotal evidence passed through a social or mainly social conversation but this is from a chap who was head of research for that particular university. So, he probably knew what he was talking about. So, let's examine who the readership, 4.3 people or not, maybe of this doctoral thesis. There are going to be fellow academics very clearly, not only your supervisors but also the people who have conducted the viva voca on the various examinations to ensure that you are fully qualified as a doctor and there may well be other interested academics from other universities and from your own. So, that is obviously the first port of call. There may also be people who hold the funding if you've been sponsored through a doctoral process by a large organization, typically for example, if it's a government organization then there are people in those organizations who want to know that they're getting value for their funding. So, they'll be looking at what you've written as well, although the chances of them reading it thoroughly start to finish are probably quite remote. There will be and you may be quite surprised to hear this that as well as researchers in other research institutes like universities and research organizations, there'll be sector managers who may be private, public, or indeed voluntary sectors who are interested in the topics that you've been looking at and also interested in how that might affect to what they do in the real world, in the practical world in other words. So they may well be dipping into your work as well, although it's unlikely that they are going to be reading every single detail, and it's highly unlikely that they're going to be reading all the appendices. In various parts of the world there are various government bodies who will be interested in what you have been researching or indeed are continuing to research. This will vary from one part of the world to another. But the whole thing about government body interference, if you want to call it that, is that it's one of those evil necessities of life from which we probably cannot get away, and then finally, there may well be some laypeople who are quite keen to find out more about what it is that you're doing or how do you have done that? Because they're just interested and they want to find out a bit more to stretch their own knowledge. It's going to be a Catholic broadcast list of people who might be looking at your thesis and reading if not all of it, and that needs to be part of it.