The research being done at Fordham University and many other colleges is interesting and often groundbreaking, but outside of a few very interested parties in academia, there are not many who know about the work.
How can academics solve the dilemma?
Gabelli School of Business Assistant Professor Julita Haber has pioneered a way that is beginning to generate a buzz within research circles: Record short videos that explain or illustrate the basic message of the research and use the videos to attract a broader audience.
“I had this idea that research needs to be disseminated in a more innovative way, not just written in a 30-page paper that barely anybody reads,” Haber said.
To spread the idea, Act on Your Research, an effort to promote video as a way to popularize excellent research, was born.
In business, education and management studies, new research may find its way to only 1 percent of practitioners, Haber said.
“I realized that there was a need to find a way that we can spread the word beyond the academics and beyond reading each others’ papers,” she said.
Enlisting the aid of a professional actor she knows, Haber first pitched the idea as a session within the 2014 Southern Management Association conference. Seventy people signed up to attend.
“It was the most-attended session in the whole conference,” she said.
In 2015, the session was held again, this time drawing 90 out of 350 attendees. Videos were solicited from researchers whose papers were not presented at the conference due to time constraints, and a cash prize of $500 was awarded to the winners. In 2014, nine submitted videos; in 2015, 27 were recorded.
In 2015, “we had three live performances,” Haber said. “So we actually allowed both for videos that are no more than five minutes or scholars who act out their practical research.”
The performances were well received. “We stress the fun factor,” said Haber.
Dorothea Roumpi, a doctoral student in management at the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business, won the competition in 2015 with a video that illustrated how social networks at work can affect the creation of family-friendly employment arrangements. The video was done with student volunteers, plus Roumpi herself. It was, she said, an enjoyable and worthwhile exercise.
“It was a pretty nice experience, very creative,” Roumpi said. “I loved it.”
Roumpi shows the video to her undergraduate students as a way to help them understand what type of research she is doing, and she is intent on spreading the word that videos can help enliven and enrich research.
“I’m planning to give my students research papers and have them create videos, because I think that this is a really interesting way for them to get in touch with academic research and to understand the implications outside of academia,” Roumpi said.
Both Haber and Roumpi said the videos help broaden the appeal of research. In Roumpi’s case, doing the video forced her to think about the real-life effects of the subject of her work.
“It was a reality check, because usually when we write conceptual papers we focus on the theory and we forget about what’s going on in reality,” Roumpi said.