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Communication course clarifies the benefits of your research

Graphic illustration: megaphone
Published Dec 22, 2020

More and more researchers understand the importance of being able to communicate their research to the surrounding society. With the course Communicating Research Beyond the Academy, doctoral students (or researchers at other levels) not only aquire fun and useful knowledge that quickly can be put into practice – the new skills might also change how you look upon your research. We asked course leader Linda Söderlindh why you should take the course.

Why is this a useful course, Linda?

“Because you get the knowledge and skills in communication that doctoral students – well, all researches for that matter - need to be able to explain their research to target groups outside the academy, such as politicians, journalists, the curious public, and so on.

We alternate theory, practice and reflection on research communication. Each participant work with their own research field or project, and what you learn during the course will be useful in reality straight away, making the course relevant from the first week.

The course not only consists of practical elements - we also talk about the different terms conditions that exist for communicating research in society. For example, we discuss communication in the light of skepticism towards science and researchers. We also problematize the balance between the need for simplified messages and comprehensibility to reach different target groups, on one hand, and, the scientific integrity and the need to be correct and precise on the other. ”

Has the need for skills within communication changed for researcher in recent years, would you say?

”The need to communicate your research has always been great, but has become more pronounced in recent years. We see this not least during the current pandemic, where it becomes clear that there is a gap between the experts' knowledge and the public's understanding.”

“It has also become increasingly important to be able to communicate how research is done. There are sometimes expectations that research will provide all the answers, and researchers are often portrayed as contradictory individuals who never give straight answers. In addition, there is also a worrying tendency towards skepticism towards research and science, which further increases the need to not only communicate what one does and its how and why, but also what research really is and how it is conducted on a more comprehensive level.”

In your experience, what is the most important insight the participants gain?

”That others don’t think and understand the way you do! And that you can influence how the message is received to a much greater extent than you first think.

The skills you develop are also applicable in other contexts, including within academia. In teaching, for example, or in conversations with colleagues. Many people start to look at their own research - and above all the usefulness and applicability of it - with slightly different eyes.”

Text: Anna Gullers
Illustration: Ulrika Georgsson