The emerging trends highlighted here illustrate some of the ways that digital technologies are expanding the reach of and impact of academic research.
1. Increased Academia/ Journalism Partnerships
There is a growing movement towards knowledge-based journalism that encourages journalists to be more deeply informed about the subjects they cover. This approach presents a fundamental shift in the way that media frames issues and gathers information. It also seeks to bridge a gap between academia and journalism. Digital technologies are helping to make academic research easier to find and interpret. The examples below utilize blogs, podcasts, video, and digital media storytelling, among other things to achieve this:
- Harvard’s Journalists’ Resource Research Chat Series
- The Conversation: Academic rigor, journalistic flair.
2. Academia Promoting Social Change
Academics engage in research and produce knowledge that, intentionally or not, may inform progressive social change. However, universities often discourage academics from actively participating in advocacy or policy making. Digital technologies are making it easier for academics to connect their research with movements and community groups who trying to bring about social change. Some online platforms that seek to elevate the exposure of academic scholarship are:
- Futurity: Research News from Top Universities.
- Footnote1: Showcasing research with the power to change the world.
- Scholarly Strategy Network: Research to improve policy and enhance democracy
3. Measuring Beyond Academic Impact: the Rise of Altmetrics
There is a growing movement towards measuring scholarly work beyond traditional academic circles and publishing outlets; hence, the emergence of altmetrics. Altmetrics looks beyond traditional publishing outlets and instead looks at metrics such as social media shares, citation counting, mentions or bookmarks, attention in high profile blogs, and in some cases Wikipedia posts – to capture how far a particular piece of scholarly work has traveled in the public sphere.
There are new tools emerging to assist academics in measuring the impact of their research. Here are some of the more common tools available:
4. Using technology for knowledge-sharing beyond academia
RSA Animate Videos: “21st century enlightenment”. Sir Ken Robinson’s video about changing education paradigms, Jeremy Rifkin’s talk on the Empathic Civilization, & David Harvey’s talk on the Crises of Capitalism—have been viewed over a million times.