There are many research stories to be told. But for many reasons, research magazines and blogs tend to focus on a certain formula. For example:
A) Faculty member/researcher + published article in peer-reviewed journal = research story
B) Faculty member/researcher + startling finding = research story
Without a doubt, these formulas lead to interesting stories. But there are ways to shake things up. To write stories that are bigger in scope or that drill down even further into a topic. On that note, here are a few unconventional research stories to consider including in your own publication:
Sure, graduate student profiles aren’t that different from the norm. But have you considered profiling undergraduate students? At many schools, of course, there aren’t many opportunities for undergrads to participate in research projects, either on their own or as part of faculty-driven initiatives. But for schools that do make research opportunities available to undergraduates, there can be many stories waiting to be told. Some examples: students that have developed a new technique or technology, travelled to another country to collaborate with other researchers or undertaken a project on an unusual subject.
2) Networks of experts
If you work in research or research communications, the phrase “critical mass” is generally used as often as “groundbreaking results.” But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a story behind the jargon. For instance, I often write about new “Centres of Such-and-Such” at universities, or larger networks involving numerous researchers. While these stories aren’t necessarily about astounding advancements, they do speak to larger issues. For instance, researchers working together to solve the biggest problems facing the planet and contributing to a “culture of innovation.” And we’ve all heard how important that is.
Writing a book requires a certain level of expertise on a topic. And plenty of faculty members are working on books in order to share their knowledge with a broader audience. Those publications can take the form of scholarly explorations, how-to guides and frequently, textbooks. So why not showcase that expertise in a research story, or a regular “In Print” column? If anything, highlighting the diversity of faculty-written books at your institution points to how it supports all types of progressive thinking. Speaking of cultivating a “culture of innovation…”
Stay tuned for Part Two of this series – coming soon. In the meantime, do you have unique research stories to share? Feel free to drop me a line or comment away.
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