Communicating Research Significance


A struggle I have been having with my research is how to convey its significance to an audience that is not already familiar with the topic. My research, an examination of the shift from dialect to national language in late 19th century Italy, is niche and not very generalizable; that means conveying its significance is especially important, but also especially difficult. Before I can explain the significance of my research, I need to explain its context. The amount of background explanation required means it is hard to talk about my research in a casual conversation. It’s a good practice to focus on what is necessary for understanding the topic and its significance so as to keep things relatively simple and avoid distracting from the point with too much supplemental information. It is also important for me to know my audience and avoid overexplaining. However, it can be difficult to determine what is or is not immediately important information when talking to a more general audience because I am too close to what I’m researching. In other words, it can be hard to look at my research objectively, and as a result I can take certain things for granted. Generally, it is best start broad and then get into more specific topics. I’ve found that when I talk about my research it is helpful to bring up some connections that it has with other topics that people are more likely to have at least some familiarity with.

At this point my professional goals are somewhat opened ended so it is important to be able to explain my research to people with a variety of backgrounds and to draw clear connections to topics that my research may be related to. To this end it is a good idea to avoid using obscure terms, and to instead focus on more general concepts.

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