What is reach?

High on funders’ list of essential criteria is how your research will impact society. Part of impact is the reach of your work, but what does reach mean? As Jane Tinkler, London School of Economics Public Policy Group said ‘Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research.” This was part of her presentation at the Critical Perspectives on ‘Openness’ in the Digital University, an event held by the Society for Research into Higher Education.

Jane’s presentation outlines several points that every academic should consider when using social media channels to increase the reach of research.

What to consider when using social media to disseminate research

  • When starting a blog or Twitter feed for a project, you will need to write updates regularly. This takes an investment of time and resources.
  • If you are open with your research methods, stakeholders could place restrictions on what you feel you can say.
  • Moderating the quality of discussion and debate via social media tools can be hard. Social media can’t replace peer review but some quality assurances can be built into how social media is used.
  • You can receive instant feedback on your work, and it is all public. This can be very nerve-wracking for individual academics and universities.

Jane also lists the potential benefits of using social media to increase the reach of your research.

The benefits of using social media to disseminate your research

  • Social media can make your work more open, especially for some disciplines and sectors where debates increasingly take place online.
  • It also helps you to read more (or more wisely) within your discipline, as well as in ‘near’ subjects.
  • This can lead to further collaborations with other academics outside your usual networks. Our research has shown cross-disciplinary, multi-authored and multi-institutional works have more impact.
  • Being part of an academic online community = event publicity, support, guidance, fact-checking and more.

Click here to view the full presentation including various statistics on the use of social media to disseminate work.

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