Barriers preventing academic engagement - online presence
This is one of my biggest challenges at the moment in the knowledge exchange fellowship.
I have users chomping at the bit to be engaged, but as some RATE projects finished 2 years ago and the rest have finished now, getting the information from academics is proving to be a stumbling block. This is not because academics do not want to be engaged. It is not because they don't care about the "impact" from their research. It is for a whole host of different reasons, many of which stem from academic culture.
The first reason is simply people have moved on - I'll talk about other reasons in following blogs and reasons why it is often difficult to engage policymakers/users.
Whether it is to a new project within the same institution, another institution, or frequently and particularly for PhD students and early career researchers, out of academia itself. I have found it very difficult to trace people and find live email addresses. Trailing through twitter, LinkedIn, Research Gate and many expired institutional pages. If people have not published during their time at an institution, there is generally no trace of their research and no indication as to what they were working on and very difficult to find and access their thesis.
I implore researchers to at least have a few lines outlining their research on their university web page and if you move on, if possible, update to state where you are going.
Having an online web presence is becoming more and more important to academia, and I understand it adds another thing to a already unfeasible to-do list. However, whether it be journalists, future collaborators, employers, or just someone who is interested in your research. Please do something. Even if it is having the same name across existing academia related platforms (I am guilty of this myself- using Kat and Katherine interchangeable therefore making it almost impossible for someone to easily find me).
I've added some useful links from EDUCASEreview and Jobs .ac.uk which are worth a peruse. I'm not saying you need all the platforms, but keeping at least one up to date can really help someone find you whilst also increasing the impact of your own work. If you are an early career researcher, who are generally speaking often more visible than senior academics, there is real worth to spending a little bit of time making yourself visible.
It really helped me build a network of contacts which helped me directly with my fellowship application.