Social Media and Digital Research Videos

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Published on: September 3rd, 2012

Digital scrapbooking

Filming at CRASSH, University of Cambridge

My project complements the SMKE theme ‘Social Media and Activism’ through the creation and use of digital research videos to facilitate knowledge exchange between early career academics and the public via social media.

Last year it was the ‘Arab Spring’; this year it was the ‘Academic Spring’, with the daily emergence of institutionalized academic support for open access.  In April, Harvard University claimed they could no longer afford academic journal subscriptions and urged academics to ‘move prestige to open access’. In May, the European Commission announced that it expected all future EU-funded research to be published in open access format beginning in 2014. A recurring debate in the realm of social media (specifically Twitter) was not only making research articles open access for independent researchers or those at institutions without certain subscriptions, but also members of the general public who are less likely to actively pursue reading academic papers, even if they are freely available. The perennial challenge is making research not only open access, but accessible.

Digitizing research in the format of illustrated video podcasts can help fill this gap in research dissemination and public understanding. In the format of a short (5 minute) podcast, which uses both audio and video, salient points of a given research topic are drawn as they are explicated, allowing the viewer to both listen to and visualize what is being described. The Naked Scientists, based at the University of Cambridge, currently produce a science scrapbook which this project uses as inspiration for creating humanities-focused digital community research videos. Another example is Ken Robinson’s ‘Changing Education Paradigms‘.

This is an ideal format for effectively communicating humanities-based research to non-academic social media users through the project website, YouTube channel, and Twitter. My project will pair postgraduate students and early career researchers with a professional research communicator in a workshop designed to cover social media practice both outside and within academia, and have participants consider ways in which they can reach out through social media, using it to successfully make their current research accessible to the public. Researchers will then collaborate in the production of illustrated, accessible research videos in addition to the creation of other online media highlighting current research in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and how these relate to wider social media and cultural practices.

The project will both provide early career researchers with the tools they need to communicate, as well as help them showcase some of their ongoing research in a way that is not just open access, but accessible, to users of social media networks.

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