Disseminating Your Findings
In this module, strategies to effectively disseminate research findings to the appropriate audience will be discussed.
- Identify the appropriate audience for the research findings.
- List the most appropriate methods of dissemination for that type of audience.
- Identify the most common barriers and strategies for eliminating them.
Researchers should consider how the results will be disseminated from the beginning of the project. Developing a dissemination plan will help guide the research process and keep the researcher focused on the goal. The first question a researcher must consider is "Who is the audience for the results?" In other words, who will benefit from the information? The answer to this question will drive the dissemination plan and determine the communication methods. For example, if the project is for the sake of gaining new knowledge in a scientific area, the audience will likely be the scientific academic community. Therefore, science journals, conference presentations and book chapters may be appropriate. On the other hand, if the research is more community based such as sharing the results of a childhood obesity study, the researcher would be more likely to use social media, flyers, blogs, or YouTube videos.
After identifying the audience and determining possible dissemination methods, researchers will need to address potential barriers. The earlier in the research possible barriers are identified, the more likely it will be that potential solutions can be found. Some of these barriers may include:
- Costs? Are funds available? What type(s) of methods are affordable?
- Are the resources and communication skills available to meet the needs of the dissemination plan? For example, is someone available to design a brochure if needed?
- What is the relationship between the research sponsor and/or the university and the audience? Is relationship-building necessary?
- Are there time constraints that must be dealt with?
There are several factors that will contribute to the success of the research dissemination and help to make it more effective. First the sharing of the research results must be oriented towards the audience and should reflect the purpose of the research project. Researchers should also consider formal and informal collaborations to ensure the best use of resources, time, and funds. Finally, any document used to disseminate findings should be attractive and readable, should be concise, should highlight results, define special terminology, and should include graphs, bullet points, or images to break up lengthy amounts of text.
Spending time creating choosing the methods of dissemination and creating a plan are critical to the research project. For a project to truly be successful, the results must be shared with the appropriate audience in the right way. The following chart provides a list of just some of the possible means of communicating and disseminating research findings, as well as the primary benefits associated with those methods.