Your PhD research is relevant to a range of audiences, but how will you reach them? Learning Skills Adviser Andrew Junor shares some of the key ways to communicate your research effectively.
As you begin your PhD journey, you first focus closely on the research process and development of your thesis. Before you know it, your research will generate new knowledge that people want to hear about. Below are some of the key ways you can share your ideas with different audiences.
1. Your thesisYour thesis will express the clearest, most comprehensive statement of your research objectives and findings. Initially you will write your thesis for two small but crucial audiences: your supervisors and thesis examiners. In time, your thesis may be accessed more broadly by scholars in your field.
How can you make sure your thesis is communicating your ideas clearly?
- Explore the Graduate Research and Writing resources on Research and Learning Online. Perhaps you need techniques for writing about research literature or reporting and discussing data?
- Have a look at theses published by other researchers. These can provide helpful models for how to structure your ideas and write engagingly in your field of scholarship
- Seek support for your English language skills, or discuss writing structure and academic communication with a learning skills adviser in your subject area
- Attend a Graduate Education seminar on thesis writing, editing and proofreading. As a graduate researcher, you can book relevant professional development seminars through your MyDevelopment account
2. Academic publicationsAcademic publications such as peer-reviewed journal articles allow you to share your ideas with a broader audience of researchers within your field. Such publications indicate your research output and its degree of impact – but how can you reach your readers?
- Make sure you target the right journal audience by consulting the Research Impact and Publishing library guide.
- Consider the communication techniques required when writing for publication
3. Conference presentationsAttending an academic conference is a great way to meet other researchers in your field and expand the reach of your ideas. By presenting a conference paper, you communicate your research to a niche network of scholars exploring research questions closely related to your own.
How can you make sure your conference participation inspires other scholars?
- Prepare for an effective oral presentation: plan with a clear purpose and audience in mind, prepare a structure to convey your ideas succinctly, and practice the talk so your delivery connects confidently with the audience.
- Anticipate how you might respond to questions from your audience. The discussion that follows a formal presentation is a crucial opportunity for communication: you might persuade a fellow scholar to change their thinking, or to remember you as an emerging talent in the field.
- Share ideas with conference participants on social media before, during and after the conference. On Twitter, you can join the conversation by using the designated conference hashtag or interacting with the Twitter accounts of conference organisers and attendees
- Deposit your conference paper or poster on the monash.figshare digital repository. Your research document will be given a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), making it much easier to share on social media
4. Community and media engagementAudiences beyond academia will want to hear about your research. As a graduate researcher, try to identify groups of people who will be excited by your findings: are these audiences found in particular industries, fields, professions, localities, or cultural or social groups? Where could your research have greatest public impact or engagement?
Here are some tips for communicating with a wider audience:
- Organise media coverage of your research. Journalists are always looking for opportunities to connect interesting stories with relevant audiences. If you want help sharing your expertise with an appropriate media outlet, contact the Expertline service operated by the Monash media team
- Give public talks. A wide range of cultural institutions invite graduate researchers to contribute to their public talks programs: these include local and state libraries, research institutes, museums, galleries and annual festivals. Think about the range of forums and audiences available in a city like Melbourne, and reach out to organisers when you see a good fit with your ideas
- Discuss your research on social media. Like traditional modes of communication, social media can reframe your ideas in unexpected and rewarding ways. Maybe one of your Twitter followers will share a useful new resource or guide you towards more insightful analysis? As Altmetrics gain prominence, online engagement may become part of how your research impact is measured. The library can assist you to use author identifier tools such as ORCID to ensure you receive appropriate attribution when sharing research online
Still have questions about how you can effectively communicate your PhD research to relevant audiences? Talk to your supervisors or peers about their approaches, or have a chat with a learning skills adviser or subject librarian in your faculty team.