Sunday, September 13, 2020

How scientists can improve their impact

Dog resting her head on her paws

This May a paper we've been working hard on for about 2.5 years finally came out! The basic idea is to provide tips for scientists to improve the chances that their research will have its desired impact. Essentially it's the paper my co-authors and I wish we had when we were starting as scientists. The dog picture above is 100% unrelated, sorry.

We have talked about this paper with well over a hundred people, and they all liked different things, and had different requests for accompaniments to it! Some wanted more context, some wanted a super-short version of it, some wanted video, etc. So we put together a whole package of resources (listed below and all available at; please take a look at whatever appeals to you.

  1. The full paper (~6,000 words, but we use simple language so it’s a fairly quick and easy read). It has context for why this matters, specific recommendations, and examples of what each recommendation looks like in practice.
  2. The need for this paper is covered in a Science brief on Cool Green Science (~500 words, 2.5 min reading time) –  it briefly explains the idea of the paper and not much else.
  3. The gist of the paper (a summary of the recommendations and brief examples) is available in a high level overview which also links to all of the products listed in this blog: (~900 words, ~4 min reading time). We also have a downloadable version of this overview to print and share (requested by a professor who wanted a short handout for her students).
  4. We talk about how we wrote the paper and what surprised us when writing it in an interview with OCTO (Open Communications for the Ocean) (~1,100 words, ~5.5 min reading time).
  5. There's more on why we wrote the paper and how scientists can start using it in a Cool Green Science interview (~2,500 words, ~12 min reading time).
  6. Finally, if you’d prefer video to text, we have a recording of a webinar about our paper which focuses on summarizing our recommendations and how they can help scientists avoid ‘wasting’ their research (22 minute presentation plus 35 minutes of discussion)
  7. Wondering what other people think is most important to improve scientific impact? This video recording of a panel discussion with four different research impact experts offers additional insights, and you can also read their advice as a blog. Or here's a recording of a second panel discussion focused on Latin America, the Caribbean, and African contexts.
  8. Finally, I shared some of the challenges in writing this paper (finding co-authors, dealing with critique, etc.) in an interview at Wildhub.

1 comment:

  1. We got a really insightful comment from a colleague that I wanted to pass on:
    "That basic concept of identifying who in your audience is most likely to be an early adopter is really important. In addition, though, there are early adopters that are seen as cranks and early adopters that are seen as innovators. Knowing the difference and targeting the innovators is key. If Crazy Jimmy adopts our strategy first, it might actually diminish the chances others will ever adopt it… Bringing credible voices into our research teams helps with this issue too, but it’s still important to ID the specific individuals (or at least characterize them and cater to them in a more general way) who are going to be seen as innovators."


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