Friday, March 17, 2017

Academics need to communicate more with the public

This article was on my Facebook feed earlier today, and I thought I would share it with you: Academics can change the world - but only if the stop talking only to their peers. The article is balanced enough to highlight how our collective knowledge base fails to reach the general public, yet takes into consideration how the academic world itself makes it difficult to take the time to communicate with the public. As an individual, I can certainly attest to the difficulty in balancing my workload and sharing new findings with non-academics. There are no real structural incentives to do so. That needs to change.

In the meantime, I will continue to use my blog to communicate my work as I can. I do have a few ground rules that I follow. One is that I will avoid dropping a bunch of statistics on you. Two, I am hesitant to say much about work that is on-going or is currently under review. I think I can provide broad summaries without too much difficulty. The main reason I say that is simply because reviewers and editors can and do get offended if they think they are reading work previously published elsewhere. So I may say in ordinary language that I ran an experiment that tested some phenomenon, and here is what I found and why it might matter. I am not publishing the details of the methodology, which frankly bores most readers, and am not publishing the data analyses. So I should stay in the good graces of those who review my work and the work of my coauthors.

Note too that what I share is truly on my own time. Again, just the nature of the beast. That means posts are often going to be irregular. I do have some fresh work on the weapons effect that I will share with you all in the near future.

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