Research communication, why bother?

Marketing scholars hold an interesting position: They often know well ahead before practioners which are the trends and concepts that will conquer the field of marketing in the coming years, and which terms will turn to buzzwords that business consultants will write books and preach about, in their seminars.
What scholars often do not know is how to offer the medicines to the headaches of everyday business practitioners. The knowledge exists but channels for communication are missing, or not being used.
Referring to current communication theories, knowledge is not something that can be packed and transferred from one individual’s head to another one’s. Instead, knowledge creating and shifting is a mutual, interrelational and multidimensional system of meaning creation and interpretation. That means that we all interpret the messages we get according to our individual cultural contexts, in different ways. That is why also research communication needs a variety of channels, tools and tones to reach its target groups and spread its messages effectively.
One-way communication is not adequate, and the general problem nowadays is the massive overload of information. Results of academic work will not be found and understood if researchers do not know or use the right ways in communication. They need to focus on the right people, and many times the best access to them is via their own networks. Universities help in it, of course, but researchers need to take an active role themselves.
We all are surrounded by social media channels that are quick and easy tools for communication. Researchers can also directly contact marketers and business people they know, and ask them what they would be interested in hearing about marketing, or offer their results to the media. Practitioners are also always welcome to contact universities and tell about their worries and topics of interest, to researchers.
Researchers do not always understand how much they actually know about their research field as whole, when used to concentrate on niches. But marketing scholars should know how to market their knowledge better than researchers in any other field, shouldn’t they?
All researchers hope that their work would benefit the world in some way. Depending on their field of research, their results can be easily and quickly applied to other fields of life, or it may take years, sometimes decades, to find the practical solutions for the academic knowledge. Anyhow, the first step is to communicate the results.
Back to the headline: Why bother? Simply, because communicating serves researchers’ personal careers, their universities, and their societies. Regular and systematic research communication looks good on CV and tells that the person understands the connection between his or her research and the world. It also enhances the reputation of the university in global competition which means that in the long run researchers’ work gets more funding and their department attracts more top-level colleagues. And, it fulfils the fundamental purpose why universities exist: The research develops our societies to better places to live.
Only for the last ten years or so, universities have awakened to encourage scholars and research groups for spreading their results out from laboratoires. A research communication plan is nowadays an obligatory part of every grant application, and the term societal impact is often heard in rectors’ speeches. What universities more could do, is to visibly reward their scholars for constant and profound research communication. As commonly known, universities have three core missions: to educate, to research, and to disseminate knowledge. All the three should be equally appreciated.
Photo: Pixabay