26 Oct 2020

Should academic researchers market their papers to create a wider reach?

 This is an updated version of a post I wrote on Quora way back in January 2018.

My answer is always "Yes!"

When I say ‘market’, I would like to point out that I am referring to the academic definition and not the commonly held perception of marketing as "selling". 

According to the American Marketing Association (AMA, 2012):

"Marketing is 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 the academic papers are only read by their authors, referees and journal editors. I guess Academics like me have ourselves to blame. We have tended to focus too much on theoretical contributions and also limit the discussions mostly to the academic community. However, changes in the way our Key Performance Indices (KPIs) are measured have resulted in the way we view research. Most educational institutions of higher learning which have a research focus, now require you to show the “impact” of the research. This impact includes evidence on how the results were circulated on mass media, the implementation by industry or target audiences, etc.

The problem is that many academic are not media savvy and do not really know how to market their research. Moreover, they 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 they 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, 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. 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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