H809 – Audience (A6.1)
I definitely should have read that topic about audience and listened to the H809 podcast before I had to hand it my report for H807. It would have helped me to define my intended audience a lot better – who is going to read a report, why was it written.
James Aczel talks to three OU colleagues – Professor Eileen Scanlon, Dr Cindy Kerawalla and Dr Chris Jones at researching and reporting for different audiences. The podcasts discuss how the writing for e.g.
- academic journals
- mainstream media
might differ in terms of audience.
Funders are definitely influential and as Scanlon put it – they can have a big impact on which particular research projects actually run. Some researchers/academic might follow the money, and thus there might be a bias. Jones argues that funding is often driven by policy and that more policy-directed initiatives requires addressing different audiences and also speed, promptness and to be quite specific.
Kerawalla argues that reporting to practitioner you focus more on what is useful for them to know. Contrary to journals you have a fixed audience and you personalise it more to their needs and use a more informal language.
Kerawalla also argues that conferences contrary to journals offers the opportunity to presenting ideas, to get feedback that might shape the research, but is also more open for discussion, is less formal and the focus is not as narrow as in a journal, but offers the possibility to draw upon a lot more work a researcher has done. She also state that with the ethical permission of participants you can also use photographs or video material in a conference, which makes it a lot more dynamic.
Journals also differ from writing books. Scanlon think that a book chapter allows more ‘elbow room’ than a journal, because a book is not as heavily peer-reviewed, or double-blind reviewed as academic journals.
There is also an increasing interest (by funders) to report to the mainstream media. Scanlon views that as an area where researchers will need to spend more time to communicate the results of research to the public.
The podcast shows that Kerawalla’s advice that we need to ‘think very carefully about what your audience would be interested in and how to appropriately present it is from great importance to be successful.