The most important part of research is what we do with our findings. Every project carries the possibility to change lives, perspectives, and our fields of study as we currently know them. However, it order for our research to reach communities outside of our personal research circles, it is important to focus on how we share the processes and conclusions of our studies.
So, how can we do this? How can we make research more accessible and understandable?
By thinking this way, we are already making strides to communicate our research more effectively. Keeping our audiences in mind is the key to accessible research. To continue to do this, here are some ideas to consider when preparing to communicate your research to a broader audience.
1. Practice explaining your research to friends that study areas that are not closely related to your own.
Ask for feedback and constructive criticism, and check in to make sure you are communicating in a way that they understand. By doing this, we can get a better understanding of what information is needed to understand our research as well as help us find a middle ground between an in-depth explanation and a vague explanation.
2. Keep an eye out for jargon!
Most of the time, jargon is not helpful for someone outside of your field. It can be confusing and therefore makes research less accessible. If using jargon is the only option, make sure you define it in easily-understood terms directly afterwards.
3. Take a step back.
Think about your understanding of your research topic before you started planning your study. What would have been confusing to you at this time? What would have been too broad? Keep this in mind when you are planning to discuss your research outside of your field.
I anticipate frequent contact with others who are not familiar with my area of study in my future. Because my project, The Effect of Gender Cues on the Cognitive Availability of Nonbinary They, invites perspectives from various academic areas such as cognitive and social psychologies, linguistics, and gender studies, I expect to have (and am hoping for!) many opportunities to share my findings and learn from other disciplines. Also, because my research is highly socially significant due to the increase of mainstream use of nonbinary they, I expect curiosity about my research from members of the general public.
As researchers, it is our responsibility to make sure that our findings are accessible. Although this can be challenging, there are strategies that we can employ in order to ensure that our findings are accessible and understandable to all.