From research to learning to dissemination

About 9 months ago, I had a reasonably good idea.

As in-coming chair of UACES, the UK’s European studies association, I wanted to improve the opportunities for my colleagues to share their work with the wider world. Fortunately, I also had/have good links with UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE), who do exactly that kind of work.

So I suggested to the latter that my network in the former might be able to offer a useful package of materials.

And last week, we got that out to the world.

24 short (1,000 word) pieces on all aspects of the European Union, each written by an expert in their field, for a public/practitioner audience.

It’s a model that UKICE had refined over the past seven years of their existence, so there’s a robust editing process to stop authors dropping back into academic modes of presenting things.

Yes, we had to completely rework things (and delay publication) because of the war in Ukraine, and yes, some authors found the style less easy to adjust to, but I hope you’d agree it’s a good final product and one that you find useful for thinking about how you get your work out there.

For me, it once again highlights how we need to think about the links between research, teaching and dissemination.

Just as we spend time and effort on making our teaching materials work for our students’ needs, so too should we do the same for our dissemination work: very few civil servants or politicians want (or have time) to trawl through a journal article or a monograph.

I know that one of the most useful things I’ve understood in disseminating and in engaging in public-facing work is that lesson: think about your audience.

In this case, the step from ‘academic’ to ‘readable stuff’ isn’t big, which is why I offer it to you. Coupled to an active social media and media presence, we’re able to reach a lot more (and different) people than we could with the same material in conventional publications.

For that reason, I’m planning to do this again and again, as long as I can get people to join me on doing it. And if I can help you do the same, then just drop me a line.