Public Engagement
Facilitating public engagement with your research can be mutually beneficial for you and the community participants, particularly if the engagement is a two way process. You can actively engage the public in the design, conduct or dissemination stages of your research project and ultimately enhance the quality or impact of the research.
Engagement activities will vary according to the purpose:
  • Informing and inspiring (presentations, social media engagement, exhibitions)
  • Consulting and seeking public views (public debates, online forums, surveys)
  • Collaborating (crowd-sourcing, citizen science)
As the skills necessary for effective public engagement will very according to which approaches and activities are employed, you are encouraged to consider what role public engagement may have in your area of research. Create a public engagement plan and then determine what development opportunities you should seek.

Training

Resources

Industry Engagement

While you may be interested in undertaking a traditional route to join the ranks of academia, keep in mind that working with industry is an important element of UWA?s research agenda, and your work may contribute to research with real world relevance and have a commercial, environmental or social impact.
Working with industry provides the opportunity to develop research translation skills, which can enable you to identify and undertake research that quickly influences key priorities of the industry organisation. Developing higher-order problem-solving skills also provides the opportunity to gain a solid understanding of the relationship between research and industry.


Engaging in high-quality research also allows you to cultivate a variety of skills that are considered intrinsically valuable to many industries, such as:

  • project management
  • developing networks
  • teamwork
  • leadership
  • working within tight budgets
  • answering and developing innovative solutions to novel questions.

Media Engagement

Self-promotion is not something that comes naturally to some people, however it is becoming a valuable and much needed skill for today?s researchers. UWA staff and students are encouraged to speak to the media about their research and achievements, and there are many benefits in understanding how the media works, and how to engage effectively with journalists and media channels.


To engage effectively with the media you will need to gain an understanding of how the media can work for you, how to attract journalists to your research, how to pitch a story and make it newsworthy, and how to handle a media interview.


The use of social media for engagement and promotion has also become very popular amongst researchers. Blogging, tweeting and podcasting can raise awareness of your research. Engagement with the wider community and the removal of institutional barriers are the key features of social media for researchers. It can also be a means of networking and potentially collaborating with other researchers as well as for crowd-sourcing information, data or statistics.

Training

Effective Communication

While your main focus as a research student might be writing a thesis, you will also be expected to communicate your work effectively to diverse audiences and settings. This may include your peers, the media, academic journals, industry, policy makers, and of course the wider community.
To do this you must understand the structure of content that is appropriate to a particular group, by defining the target audience, finding the right `story to tell?, and discovering the language used by each audience.


Some of the skills that will enable you to present and phrase materials to a range of audiences include being able to:

  • manage and review literature and write an effective research proposal
  • understand principles of academic writing and how to prepare research results for publication
  • deliver oral presentations effectively
  • make written and graphic content more accessible and engaging
  • apply basic rhetorical principles of communicating science to expert and lay audiences

Training

Resources

Publication

Publishing research is increasingly becoming a conventional and expected practice in academia. Along with the PhD, having a publication `track record? is a base requirement for any academic position. Publishing is similarly important if you are not pursuing an academic career but perhaps one in government or the private sector. Whatever the case may be, publishing your original work establishes your expertise and professional identity in any forum and is an important aim for all serious researchers. Publishing in peer-reviewed journals provides scrutiny, recognition, rewards and is a vehicle for the wider communication of your research and you as researcher whilst you are engaged in your research degree. For this and other reasons, it is vitally important to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to get your research published, such as or in books and high quality journals.


Begin thinking about the parts of your research which may be publishable, then develop a `publication strategy? which includes the identification of the most appropriate journal, a timeline for writing and submitting the work, and a contingency plan if the work in rejected. Understand also the wide range of skills involved in the publication process is important. These include academic writing skills, negotiation skills, and the ability to work collaboratively with co-authors on writing projects. Publishing will also give you the opportunity to practice responding to reviewers? comments in a professional manner.

Training

Resources

Funding Application

Increasingly research-intensive universities are relying on external sources of funding to support research. For this universities rely on academics to apply to funding bodies to win competitive grants to finance their research projects. Becoming more `research intensive? is important because it improves the reputation of the institution, grows research enterprise, and motivates researchers to work collaboratively and creatively. Just as importantly winning funding, just like publishing your research, is a good career move for early career researchers and for mid-career academics it is important for job security.


Whilst undertaking your research degree you may have the opportunity to contribute to the development of a funding application. You will find that there is a lot of support in this area (see resources below) and you will come to appreciate the diverse skills required for success. Identifying opportunities for collaboration is a good first-step and for that you may like to approach your supervisors. Understanding what it is reviewers look for in a well-crafted funding application is also important. Learning to write in an accessible and concise way is one of the keys to a winning grant. If you aspire to an academic career learning more about the competitive grants process is vital.

Training

Public Speaking

Being able to orally communicate effectively is an indispensable skill in all professional fora, whether that be in academia, industry or business. Few people have a natural gift for public speaking, and certainly most good public speakers have developed their skills and confidence through training and practice. Throughout your research degree you will regularly have the chance to showcase your work to your peers, whether that be through discipline group or School presentations, national or international conferences, community events or our own 3MT competition. Being an effective speaker is all the more now important given the introduction of oral defence for PhD examination for all candidates enrolling in 2018 and beyond.


Conferences provide a wonderful learning experience if they are approached in the right way. Don?t think of the conference presentation as `something to get through without making a fool of yourself in front of your peers?. Cultivating or nurturing the right frame of mind towards oral presentations is important. Try making the audience the centre of your attention, but not in terms of the way they may judge or criticise you (or your research). Make it your goal to give them a learning experience which will change the way they think about an important problem or issue. Most importantly recognise that public speaking is a skill that needs development. Look for opportunities to do this and make public speaking a stress-free, enjoyable experience.

Cross-Cultural Communication

It is widely recognised that communication is an element of culture. When we communicate with others we rely on shared social norms and values, symbols and experiences. Often the quality of the communication we engage in is determined not by what is said, but what is understood at a deeper level than language. Cross-cultural communication occurs when people of different cultural backgrounds interact within a particular encounter. This type of encounter is becoming more prevalent given the increasing internationalisation of business and education, and the growth in international tourism.


Developing intercultural competence is an important skill for professionals both within and outside the immediate workplace. Your colleagues, students or peers may come from a different cultural background than you; or you may be required to collaborate with people from institutions overseas. Having the ability to communicate effectively, make people feel comfortable, and resolve any communication difficulties arising from distinctions in culture will increase the likelihood you will achieve the outcomes you want whilst ensuring you create a level of trust and rapport.


You can begin to develop your intercultural competence by first identifying those relationships which you are currently involved in which include cross-cultural communication. Think deeply about the cultural factors which may affect the interaction (for example verbal and non-verbal language, belief systems, dress-codes, status distinctions, age). Reflect on the assumptions you bring to the encounter. Recognise and try to repair instances of mis-communication when recognised. Develop a repertoire of strategies for negotiating cross-cultural encounters in a more sensitive way. Much of this derives from training. People need to consciously acquire these skills and routinely practice them.

Resources
Online cross-cultural training programs available including those offered by

Mediation and Conflict Resolution
From time to time it is inevitable that conflict will arise in the workplace. Do your conflict management skills need a brush up? When you find that conflict resolution is necessary, be prepared to take the right steps to resolve the situation.
Presentation Skills
While your main focus as a research student might be writing a thesis, you will also be expected to communicate your work effectively to diverse audiences and settings. You will need to present materials comprehensibly to groups with varying levels of expertise and phrase that material from different perspectives. This may include communicating with your peers, the media, academic journals, industry, policy makers, and of course the wider community.
To do this you must understand the structure of content that is appropriate to a particular group, by defining the target audience, finding the right `story to tell?, and discovering the language used by each audience.
Some of the skills that will enable you to present and phrase materials to a range of audiences include being able to:
  • manage and review literature and write an effective research proposal
  • understand principles of academic writing and how to prepare research results for publication
  • deliver oral presentations effectively
  • make written and graphic content more accessible and engaging
  • apply basic rhetorical principles of communicating science to expert and lay audiences

Resources