Although scientists are generally willing to publish their research, they are often hesitant about promoting it. The attitude seems to be to let the publication do most of the talking and let word of mouth from fellow researchers do the rest. Researchers with a reputation of being “shameless self-promoters” are looked upon with a mixture of amusement and condescension. But there is nothing wrong with promoting research. It should be encouraged. Many ground-breaking pieces of research languished in obscurity because the researcher made no effort to promote or even publish the work. Newton’s development of calculus and Cavendish’s work on electricity come to mind, and the world was poorer because of their negligence. Here are some ways to promote research.
Presentation of a paper at a professional convention is a standard way to promote research. Not only will peers get a preview of the research in the formal presentation, but there are many opportunities for informal discussions with fellow researchers who are interested in the work. And there is always the chance that the presentation may catch the eye of a journalist who is covering the convention.
Professional scientific magazines have articles on current research in every issue. So do magazines, newspapers, and news shows (radio and TV) that cover science at a popular level. Coverage varies in length from a brief summary of a few paragraphs to in-depth articles featuring interviews with the researcher. If approached for such a piece first make sure the interviewer and outlet are reputable. If so, give them as much time and encouragement as you can spare. But make sure you will be given a preview of the piece to correct any errors of fact. A reputable interviewer will be glad to do this, in fact, they will want to.
Does a university in your area have a seminar series? They may be looking for researchers to present their recent work. What about industrial seminars? If you can relate your research to a company’s area of interest, they would probably be happy to give you a forum.
Local Interest Groups
At various times I have belonged to clubs with the following interests: space exploration, astronomy, archaeology, and mushroom hunting. In each case local or touring scientists stopped by to give lectures on, for example, rocket propulsion, astrochemistry, artifact conservation, and toxicology. In at least one case the lecture led to a magazine article by an audience member who was a freelance writer.
Which of these possibilities will lead to the greatest exposure? It’s hard to predict. But the more fishing lines you throw into the water, the greater the chance of a bite. And while promoting your research, you will also be performing a real service by informing the public about new research that may be important to it.
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