At the end of September we ran another Researchers’ Forum at UWE, the theme of which was “getting your research noticed”. What we were trying to do was to provide researchers with the opportunity and space to consider how they could go about building up a reputation as a researcher.
We spent the morning in the company of Kate Tapper from Bud Development who facilitated a great session on how to answer the question that most researchers dread:- “So what do you do?”. Kate had four main messages to get across on that day:-
1) Start with why
2) Don’t throw jelly at people
3) Tell stories
4) You are wonderful
The slides she used on the day are here:-
I have written about “Authenticity & finding your why” elsewhere on the blog which explains the idea behind Simon Sinek’s concept of “start with why”; the basis of having impactful conversations with people.
I really like the analogy of not throwing jelly at people when trying to explain research; it conjures up images of researchers desperately churning out more and more data in the hope that some of it will stick in the minds of the recipient. The phrase comes from a book by Andy Bounds called “The Jelly Effect” and is well worth a read.
Much better then to have a story to tell about your research, why are you excited, enthusiastic, passionate about what you do as a prelude to trying to tell anyone how or what you do. We are humans after all and humans like stories.
Kate also touched on a number of issues around courage and vulnerability which are qualities that make us wonderful. It reminded me of a TED talk I watched recently by Brene Brown on that very topic and sums up everything that Kate was trying to say on this.
The afternoon session of the Researchers’ Forum was spent focussing on strategies that researchers from across UWE had adopted to build their reputations in two broad categories:-
1) Building a reputation through publications
2) Building a reputation through communicating to a wider audience
What was fascinating that there were many of the themes that were explored in the morning session that also came up and centred around telling stories, having something interesting to say, to take risks by publishing in more than one area of specialism and making connections.
Katie Williams shared these top 10 tips for academic writing:
Carinna Parraman used a Prezi to showcase the work of the Centre for Fine Print Research.
Clare shared thise presentation with us about the work of the Science Communication Unit with advice on how to engage wider audiences.
A final note is to say a big thanks to professor Robin Means who has been the academic lead for the Researchers’ Forum for the past 5 years and will be passing on the baton to Professor Glenn Lyons.
Robin Means, Kate Tapper & Glenn Lyons at the UWE Researchers’ Forum, September 2011
I'm a former researcher into the microbiology of the mouth who now runs a skills development programme for other researchers.