10 Jan 2018

Marketing our research papers

I am an active member on Quora.com and I saw a very interesting question: "Do you think academic researchers should market their papers to create wider reach for the work?"

I wanted to share it with the audience on my blog as well. I have edited the answer a bit.

According to the American Marketing Association (AMA, 2012) marketing refers to: 
"the activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large."
According to a study in 2007, half of academic papers are read only by their authors, referees and journal editors. I guess we academics have ourselves to blame as we tend to focus largely on the theoretical contributions and also limit the discussions mostly within the academic community.
However, changes in the way our Key Performance Indices (KPIs) are measured and funders disperse their money, have slowly resulted in changes in the way we view and carry out research as well. Most educational institutions of higher learning which have a research focus as well as funders, now require you to show the “impact” of the research. This impact includes evidence on how the results were circulated on mass media, implementation by industry or target audiences, etc.
The main issue is that many academics are not media savvy and do not really know how to market their research. Many researchers feel uneasy with promoting themselves. One Professor told me, "Your research should speak for itself". However, as indicated earlier, this may not be as straightforward if only 3 people read your research. Moreover, researchers tend to move on to the next project once they end the previous one - happy that they have a conference proceeding or two and a journal paper from the research and then move on to the next one. Again this is due to pressure from institutions to churn out research papers regularly to meet KPIs, University rankings and quality certifications.
Coming back to the definition of marketing in this context, we can market our research by looking at how we can create value from our research. We also need to be media savvy and should reach out to the general public. 
Thankfully, I can see that many of us are now active on social media and sharing our research and knowledge with everyone who cares to listen and we are also finding out what people think about our research. Engaging and collaborating with organisations (including NGOs, Governments and Corporates), allows us to fine tune our research to meet and satisfy specific needs and requirements.
Hopefully, this will increase the reach of our research.

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