Research should be produced, not just published

November 17, 2012, 5:53 pm

Here is an interesting case study on how to package an academic paper. (Found via the Heath Brothers.)

Slinky Video

It’s an interesting visual showing how an extended slinky hovers in midair when dropped. The dramatic demonstration is followed by the scientific explanation. What’s cool about the video is that the researcher shows the raw model on the computer and talks about the experiment, but it’s the intro that grabs your attention. The demo is intriguing and compels you into wanted to learn more. It’s Matrix stuff!

Along with the video there is also a link to the pre-print of the paper providing everyone with open access to the scholarly material. It’s a great way to promote a paper.

The video has over one million views and over nine hundred comments. Granted most of the comments are silly, but the video was effective in getting people thinking and talking about science. They learned something, perhaps unexpectedly.

This is exactly what research libraries are talking about: data, visualization, modeling, social media, etc. While the open access aspect of the article enables people to read the work, it’s the YouTube video that creates buzz building word of mouth and fueling discovery.

Now the sad thing is that a tenure committees probably would not factor this in, but imagine being able to put something in your review packet that says: I did this experiment, wrote a paper, and over one million people learned about my research. Talk about alt metrics

I see a role for libraries here: research promotion. How might this evolve? It’s no longer about mere publishing, but creating a suitable outlet and campaign to share the findings. Our job becomes one of production: designing and developing the channels, methods, processes and metrics to repackage content (academic papers) into formats apt for expanding the audience.

Researchers who draw millions of views to their work gain an advantage in the marketplace. If I’m a funding agency or potential employer – if all else is equal—the person who can conduct and share their research on a large scale is the one who gets my vote. Imagine your library packaging research outputs in this way with the result of giving your faculty immense exposure- now that’s a value-added service!

BTW: if we don’t do this, someone else will. It could actually be big business to develop intriguing promotional campaigns around research — an expense that could be written into the grant.

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