Dissemination – How can we increase our impact? (Part two)

In the previous instalment of this blog, we focussed on the methods of dissemination. In this part, we will consider issues and obligations and hope to hear back from some of you who have taken the time to read these posts.

Recently, Jasmine has become aware that there is perhaps a reticence concerning the sharing of results, particularly through social media. “During my involvement in SoilCare and projects I have worked on in the past, there is a sense of reluctance from some researchers about sharing preliminary findings. As a researcher myself, I understand that this is a sensitive issue. I think the worries around this stem from the potential for results to be misconstrued in the media as well as the possibility of inviting criticism from other researchers or interested parties.There is some concern about sharing results before they appear in a published journal, however if preliminary results are well emphasized as just this – preliminary – however, I think that there’s a strong case for writing about them. That’s not to say in a scientific publication, but in blogs, videos, newsletters that really help to build the story of the people and practice within a project. People outside of the project, and for those who it aims to impact, need someone or something to connect with. There is also the opportunity to receive constructive criticism which may actually enhance future work, but also because a lot of our work is publicly funded, as researchers we need to recognise our obligation not only to produce scientifically-sound data, but also to share our findings with the public as we go along.”

Jasmine continues with her thoughts about dissemination by saying “I would love to hear from people involved in similar situations and what their thoughts and concerns might be regarding my perceived apprehension of others. I think that there shouldn’t be any barriers to communicating our work, with the exception of confidential information of course, so if you care to share these with me, please send me an email”.

Results from previous projects with CCRI involvement will help existing and future projects

Once many projects are completed, there is also a sense of a ‘cliff edge’ to them – websites remain, but are no longer updated, no-one tweets or posts on Facebook pages. What should happen then? Jasmine would like to see multiple project findings brought together to disseminate, particularly when there is often a great deal of overlap or synergies. “Although SoilCare has a couple of years left to run, there is a lot of great output from RECARE and SmartSoil projects that could be used in this one, especially when it works with a different set of farmers. There is another EU-scale project in progress here in CCRI – SURE-Farm, which looks at networks between farmers, advisors and policy – the results from this could help target the right people to get sustainable farming practices from RECARE, SmartSoil and SoilCare into wider practice.

If we are to see real environmental change, positive practice needs to both reach the right people and be developed by the right people – usually the end users (here farmers) supported by research, policy and advisers. It just depends on what the next funding bid outlines – we can’t do more joined-up work without the funding to do it.

Jasmine would like to better understand the barriers to disseminating preliminary results, and work with researchers to overcome these. She’d also like to see funding better targeted towards building project stories throughout, in order to create better engagement, stronger networks and ultimately wider behaviour change to more sustainable practices.

You can follow Jasmine on Twitter @Dr_SoilieJas. If you would like to send Jasmine your thoughts on disseminating preliminary results, contact her here.

Mills, Jane. Reed, Matt. Skaalsveen, Kamilla and Ingram, Julie (2019) The use of Twitter for sustainable soil management knowledge exchange. Soil Use and Management Vol 35, No. 1, pp 195-203

All of Mark Reed’s Podcasts can be found via this link.