Dear reader… “It’s okay to play.”

Academics, researchers, and PhD students have to search, select, and submit their work to peer review journals and conferences to disseminate their research to the world. “Think of your audience”,—they say, but how often do they think of making their research projects and findings more accessible to the targeted audience? Regardless of their disciplinary specialisms, they forget to play with how they share their work beyond academia. “It’s okay to play” were the words Dr Martin Glynn told us during his seminar last Wednesday hosted by OpenTEL. Before scrolling down to find the recording of his talk, allow me to give you an intro of Martin’s background and how he ended up writing a book on ‘Data Verbalisation for Researchers’.

Martin came to academia late. In the beginning, he did not harmonise with academics because he did not understand their world. Working with prisoners and the community was his reality. Nevertheless, he pursued a PhD because, as many academics, he saw in education an opportunity to make a difference. “When are you going to publish your findings?” —people used to ask him. Well, the truth was that he was never comfortable with the subtle pressure around attending x number of conferences or having his work published in academic journals.

Communication, on the other hand, was always important to him. So, he decided to take the risk and innovatively present his research during one of the world’s biggest conferences. The American Society of Criminology conference witnessed the transformation of Martin’s keynote speech about the mass incarceration of black men into 12 minutes of rhymes about his work. Radio stations shared his track everywhere; colleagues asked him to do the same with their articles. Even the Guardian interviewed him to know more about the ‘Data Verbalisation’ method, which consists of communicating research data using performance approaches and techniques.

Martin’s creative ideas fit nicely with the OU Strategic Goal One: extending our reach and offer to include even more people from all parts of society in lifelong learning. His message also adds value to the university Strategic Goal Three: achieving impact in the four UK nations and globally through research and the development of knowledge and skills. By reaching more people, you increase your impact! So, we have gathered some tips based on Martin’s talk to help you verbalise your work in today’s technology-mediated society:

  1. Think of the legacy you want to leave behind by the end of a research project.
  2. Explore new ways to communicate your research beyond the comfort zone of academia.
  3. Connect your data with the people who need to hear about it.
  4. Find a voice that represents who you are and your audience (e.g. PhD students are already giving it a go with the ‘Dance Your PhD’ contest and ‘The OU Student Bake Your Research’ competition).
  5. Collaborate.

*Bonus: Jazz it up, and don’t let your work remain silenced!

At this point, you might be tempted to jump straight to the recording or perhaps google his book published by Routledge to find out more. But before you go away, dear reader, we invite you to share your future research and examples of creative dissemination with us. We are open to people and ideas– it’s in our mission, after all.