Long gone are the days when sport and exercise psychology researchers could simply present their work to other like-minded colleagues at society meetings/conferences and dissemination ended when a paper was a paper was published paper in a peer-reviewed journals. Traditional routes of dissemination has meant that our research has only been heard or read by relatively few people, and the impact of these findings small compared to the time and money invested.
In an age when publishing metrics impact hiring and promotion decisions, we need to do more than ever before to ensure that our work is reaching the biggest possible audience. Not only do we want our research to be read and cited, but even more importantly, used in some way to inform future investigations, influence policy, and/or guide practice.
It is time to look at new and different ways to promote our work, and this has never been easier than with the technology now available. In this blog, I explore three ways for how you can capitalise on the most recent trends for spreading information about your research: blogging, miniblogging, and MiniManuscripts. These do not require more than internet access, free software/social networking, a bit of time, and some creativity!
What is it? Blog posts can be written anyone as a way to share information or advice about a topic. Most academic bloggers use their posts to disseminate their research or some aspect of academic practice. My good friend Dr Vikki Burns has aimed her blog at helping higher education students in their personal and career development. Her latest post on “You’ve got 24 hours. How will you spend it?” is a great example of how blogs are written in a more conversational style than traditional manuscripts.
Why do it? A blog post takes time but is a way for you to write about something interesting or useful that you would like to share with the world. It gives you flexibility to write what you want without having to conform to a particular publishing standard or guideline. Blogs also offer you the opportunity to be creative by adding links, inserting images, and embedding video links.
How to get started? You can try out a free service such as WordPress or perhaps offer to write a guest post on someone else’s blog. One of our current PhD students, Mary Quinton, did just that for The Sport In Mind (www.thesportinmind.com). Her post on “Imagery in Sport” was the 3rd top article viewed on the site in 2014 and is now one of Google’s top returned pages when doing a search on this topic.
After doing a bit of reading into the pros and cons of academic blogging, I decided to try it as a quick way to share thoughts relating to my specialty area of imagery on our BRIO group’s website. I was amazed to see how much attention my first post “how the best athletes image and where their images come from” received in the first few days from readers around the world. I realise now that blogging is an opportunity to provide evidence-based advice on a much written about but not well understood topic. Here on my own personal website, I plan to share more general ideas about research and academic practice related to the field of sport and exercise psychology.
What is it? If you don’t have time to write a blog, miniblogging is a quick alternative. Using social networking platforms such as Twitter, Linkedin or Tumblr, you can post short dialogue, images, or video links.
Why do it? Miniblogging is an easy way to have a presence on the web without much effort. Although I do not tweet as often as I would like, I have found it a great way to reach out to others as well as get plenty of new ideas in return by reading their tweets. My lectures have been refreshed this year with new quotes and interesting examples from articles shared by others on Twitter this past year, and I have also kept more current on advances in statistical techniques as just a couple of examples.
How to get started? Check out the different options to see what suits you best. Many academics have profiles on multiple social networks, but will likely favour 1 or 2 to use for more professional purposes. I have Linkedin and ResearchGate accounts but favour Twitter for sending out quick updates or announcements. Although a relative latecomer to Twitter, I found it the easiest to use and fit into breaks in my day. I also keep a personal Facebook page to maintain contact with friends and family, but generally avoid using it for work.
If you are skeptical about using Twritter or would like some advice on how to “tweet”, Oxford University’s Professor Dorothy Bishop offers some wise words for academics that are definitely well worth reading. Professional bodies such as the HCPC have also started to put out guidance on using social networking sites, which serve as useful reminder that information you put out in the public domain should be consistent with set standards.
What is it? A MiniManuscript contains key facts about a research study that can be ready in two minutes. These are not meant to replace publishing full-length papers in peer-reviewed journals, but rather provide a summary that will save time for readers and enable them to cover more papers. At MiniManuscript.com, they liken this to an academic form of “speed dating” allowing readers to get a quick impression about the work and decide if they want to read further.
Why do it? As an author, it is another platform for you to showcase your work and get feedback. It is a relatively new idea so has not fully taken off yet. But, it will encourage you think about the key points of your research, focusing on what you did and what you found. For PhD students, this might also be a useful exercise when preparing for your viva or job interviews.
How to get started? Visit MiniManuscript’s website to join for free by completing a brief form. They provide videos giving a step-by-step guide on how to write and post text summaries. To test this out, I decided to write my own MiniManuscript for a recent paper co-authored with Dr Sarah Williams already listed on the site. Having watched the videos, it was easy and quick to set up the text summary. What took longest was figuring out how reduce information about the 5 studies into a short summary without repeating the abstract, but I did follow advice given that “You and other users can edit your summary so it doesn’t have to be perfect first time!”.
Do you use any of these dissemination tools? Feel free to tell me what you think of these ideas by leaving a comment!
About the author: I am a Chartered Psychologist and a Senior lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Birmingham (UK). The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.