Friday, 24 February 2012

Sitting on the shelf: Do we really need to disseminate our research?

Most research ends up sitting on the shelf in a library or behind some publishing companies pay wall.  Even with  the current rise in open access, hardly anyone outside of a university ever hears about our research.  Do we really need to disseminate our research to the wider public? And if we do how do we break it down so they can understand it? With the current pressures on academics is it worth our time to condense, simplify and disseminate our research to the lay person?....

For :
If our research is paid for by the tax payer (and increasingly by the students)  shouldn't they get to see what we do and how it can benefit them? Thus increasing its impact and usefulness.
To excite potential future researchers about what they could be a part of.
To test ideas and public reaction to proposed or current research.
Socialising research -making a larger community, anyone interested can join.
Funding agencies encourage wider dissemination.

Time consuming when time is limited.
The potential for plagiarism or idea stealing if not formally copyrighted.
Difficulty in gauging the level on which to report your research, so as not to confuse lay people.
Lay people might not care about what you do (especially if it has no bearing on their daily lives).
Is your public dissemination REF'able? even if it is,  its only worth 20% whereas outputs in the form of high quality peer reviewed publications are worth 65%.

Should all universities be research active or should we be leaving research to research intesive institutions and let the more modern universites concentrate on high quality teaching?


  1. i think research is a contribution to public knowledge & the public good, the commons. dissemination is necessary.

  2. So much research in this country is publicly funded, researchers have a moral obligation to enter into a public dialogue about that research.