Crossing Academic Boundaries

In order to make one’s research accessible to all audiences, which is paramount to the universality of such studies, it is imperative that the information be translated, at least partially, into lay speak. Otherwise, no one beyond a small subset of people in a particular niche of study will be able to grasp the core of the research and comprehend the results and implications of the work. If research is not universally accessible, it cannot be used to influence and aid in studies and research in other disciplines, which could prove to be very helpful. More and more researchers are beginning to realize the potential of crossing the arbitrary lines between different areas of study and thus harnessing the potential of interdisciplinary work. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important to make one’s research easily understandable. 

To explain one’s research to someone beyond the field to which the study specifically pertains, one must imagine speaking to a broader audience than the academic community they are immersed in. To do this, it is helpful to try to imagine yourself coming from a background completely different from your own and see how well you are able to understand your own words. When explaining the significance of my research, I find it best to apply the results of my study to multiple different real world problems or phenomena, and explain how the results of my research can help resolve such issues or help us understand something about the world. It also helps to put the subject of the study into perspective. For example, the significance of my study pertains to mental illness stigmas, so I could find facts or statistics which emphasize the pervasiveness of such stigmas in order to illustrate the need to study their development. This way people outside of the study of psychology can see why it is necessary to conduct research like mine.

As a future psychology researcher and professor, I will need to interact with people from many different educational backgrounds and in various fields aside from psychology. I will likely need to communicate with doctors, primarily psychiatrists, during my research, depending on where a specific study takes me. This will help me to understand the physiological mechanisms relating to the psychological phenomena I focus my studies on. When working on the real world application of the results of my research, I will need to work with clinicians to find the most effective means of integrating the knowledge I acquire into practical work. As a professor, I will need to communicate information to students who may just be beginning their psychology education or who are not intending to study psychology at all beside my class. In such cases, I will be required to find new, more accessible explanations for information within the study of psychology. 

No matter what I choose to do with my undergraduate studies, I will need to find ways to communicate information in ways that everyone can comprehend, not only my academic peers. This is a useful, and oftentimes necessary skill for any field, and I am excited to continue to practice communicating with people in other areas of study through the Brackenridge Fellowship.

**featured image from the Harvard Gazette**

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