LAB offers a range of services to improve the public engagement and impact of university research. A new brochure and a public talk at the 2021 SLAS Virtual Conference outlines what LAB can offer and why this area of work needs a refresh.
The outputs of academic research are often cloistered within academic institutions and publications. Lectures, seminars, journal articles, even books are designed and delivered within a culture whose form, language, pricing and location exclude non-experts and the non-academic.
At LAB, we believe it’s a great shame for academics and the wider public that such valuable work is not more widely shared. Important findings can build on our collective knowledge, enrich our shared cultures and advance new information, theories and ideas. But this is only possible if research is made accessible.
Although researchers have limited time to focus on impact outside of academia and often don’t receive sufficient support or advice, funding institutions are increasingly anxious to promote research engagement and sometimes require evidence of impact beyond the usual academic circles.
Journal articles (often jargon-heavy and hidden behind a paywall) simply aren’t enough for today’s audiences: the general public, journalists, policy makers, politicians, grassroots workers, academics. We need think more progressively about how to develop creative ways to present this research, and consider involving organisations and individuals skilled in delivering the information, in order to increase its reach. If a journalist can’t access the research, how can they share it with the pubic? If policymakers don’t encounter these papers and cannot easily absorb their content, how can they implement this knowledge? If a reader feels excluded from the language of research, how can they connect to the subject and how can they act upon the findings?
With over 30 years’ experience in publishing and media, and existing as a charity which straddles academic and public circles, we believe LAB can provide support, advice and key services in delivering research impact campaigns. Our over 150 published books are known for their non-technical and accessible language and format; our website attracts a diverse, international audience; our YouTube channel playlists provide analysis and context and our social media engages individuals from multiple sectors in important discussion.
LAB has put together a list of services on offer, which you can download and share with your networks here. At SLASVirtual2021, LAB council member and King’s College London Professor Cathy McIlwaine will also chair a discussion alongside LAB clients including Dr Antonio Ioris of Cardiff University. The session is titled Beyond the Campus: Rethinking Research Engagement and Impact and your opinions and experiences are welcome.
Main image: Louise Morris interviews Pavel Núñez. Photo by Pierre Fromentin.