Every career requires communication to the larger population. Whether it is a store advertising and justifying their goods, or a lawyer explaining terms to a client, all careers involve learning specific skills and then marketing or explaining their knowledge to others. In the academic field, the skill itself is knowledge acquisition and communication. Our value as researchers is grounded in communicating work and its importance to people from outside scholarship.
In order to facilitate building this important skill, the Brackenridge fellows have been discussing communication outside of our discipline for the duration of the program. Since the fellowship is interdisciplinary, we practice this skill each week when we chat with one another and share our work on projects. These conversations remind us how to explain our work and notice our own confusions when hearing about the unfamiliar work of others. These sessions alone significantly help us to improve our communications each week
In addition, we have discussed specific strategies for communicating with people outside our field or outside academia. One strategy is the use of Translational Abstracts. These are a shorter abstract that emphasizes aspects of the research that the public may find important, and minimizes statistical analysis and jargon that may be hard for less familiar readers to understand. Other strategies such as writing simply and showing writing to friends or family that are not involved in research is also important. Research and scholarship cannot be successful if they are not properly communicated to the wider public.
While I am focusing on history for my project this summer, my career goals are to become a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) and possibly obtain a Phd in Rehabilitation Sciences along the way. Occupational Therapy (OT) is an often misunderstood or unknown therapy style that is about helping people with injuries or illnesses to function in their daily lives. Due to this, one major challenge is communicating to patients and families why and how OT is important so that they can willingly engage in therapy. If I obtain a Phd, I will have to communicate my role even more extensively. Research is all about obtaining knowledge and communicating it, either to future practitioners or other audiences. In this setting, this would primarily mean communicating new therapeutic methods to practitioners or teaching established methods to students. In this way, one can amplify their knowledge to help the most people possible. I hope that I can use some of these skills I have learned during Brackenridge of clear communication to benefit myself and others in the future.