August 22, 2019 | 89° F

Academics at Rutgers learn to relay research through social media

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Arlene Stein, co-writer of “Going Public: A Guide for Social Scientists,” is the director of the Institute for Research on Women, which hosts a new series of workshops that helps academics relay their research findings to public audiences via social media. 

The Institute for Research on Women (IRW) will host a new workshop series to help graduate students and faculty communicate their scholarships to the public through social media.

“Going Public: A Guide for Social Scientists” is a guidebook meant to help academics write for general audiences and use digital media tools, and was co-written by Arlene Stein, the director of the institute and a professor in Department of Sociology.

The workshop series, which began last year, includes workshops on writing op-eds, using social media and protecting academic freedom in a digital age, according to a press release.

“Regardless of our field, we study things that are important to everyone — the great philosophical questions, questions about how the physical universe works and the pressing social issues of the day,” Stein said. “Many people have an interest in understanding climate change, or what is driving the growing visibility of sexual harassment, for example.”

She said much of academic research is relayed to the public by journalists, but that the research is sometimes impenetrable.

“It is important for us to be able to talk about our research with non-academics, particularly in the current climate of political polarization,” she said. “… I really think many scholars want to talk about our work to broader audiences. It is just that we don’t know how to do it.”

Academic research benefits the interconnected, global society, according to the press release. The workshop aims to help scholars communicate their work particularly to policy makers, taxpayers and others.

“Our workshops train scholars to communicate with general audiences,” she said. “We offer nuts-and-bolts skills building for producing op-eds, writing for general-interest magazines and books, as well as blogs and social media.”

The workshops will examine sharing academic work on television and radio and how to communicate directly with policy makers, according to the press release. They are open to all Rutgers graduate students and faculty.

Most academics write with Ph.D. advisors and promotion committees in mind – specialists within their fields, Stein said.

“In most disciplines, there is little professional incentive for communicating with non-specialists,” she said. “Some of us wish to change that.”

Alexandra DeMatos

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