Getting the world to listen

Scientists and researchers often find it challenging to get people interested in their work. It is possible to be a leading expert in a field and still be unfamiliar outside the modest circle of colleagues in the same field. How to raise awareness through the media is the subject of an article Eva Czaran, Malcolm Wolski, and Joanna Richardson, all of Griffith University, Australia, in their paper "Improving research impact through the use of media" published in De Gruyter's open access journal Open Information Science.

The paper shows how difficult it is to tell the story of a research project well and suggests that the promotion of research through visual storytelling could be useful in many scientific endeavors. To ensure success, researchers must be supported by their institutions to develop storytelling skills and present them using visual media.

The paper presents a Four Phase Media Development Model which highlights the key steps a researcher or a media professional must take when developing a media product. The model is simple. It includes scoping, development, release and review. Scoping involves thinking about what the researcher needs so the message can be kept simple. It includes identifying the audience, deciding which visual approach to take, showing what the research changes in the world and finding a story to tell about that research. Next is the development phase: writing and creating the film. Then a release date that makes sense for the project is chosen, and then eight months later the success of the project is measured and evaluated.

This model is very easy to put into practice, and it can be used to train researchers without requiring more funding.

Ian Birch, Director ICT Strategy and Architecture, Auckland University of Technology said, "We believe that there is great potential to apply your model across various institutes and research studies. We were also impressed that the approach had already demonstrated its positive impact in generating research funding from new sources."

Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Director of Social Marketing at Griffith University added, "This video has bought direct interest in our work. I wouldn't change the process we used. It has really delivered, more than I dreamed it would."

De Gruyter Open