Nancy Seideman, Emory’s executive director of media relations, writes in the Academic Exchange:
The decision to enter a scholarly manuscript into the public sphere used to be more of a deliberate one.
Today there is no choice to make. Boundaries between academia and broader society have blurred considerably. Within academia, the pace of dissemination of scholarly work has quickened with the proliferation of electronic and open-access publication, coupled with the tremendous growth of social media and Internet channels of dissemination and the transformation of the still influential and far-reaching mainstream media.
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It’s the job of today’s scholars to take the time to master communications skills and media tools in order to fulfill their civic responsibility to help translate and make accessible research that means something to people. In doing so, we need to resist the frequent pressure from the media and the general public to make a leap from fundamental research to application or revelation.
"Meaning something,” after all, can take many forms: inviting people to share in the thrill of discovery, unearthing the brittle piece of paper in an archive that provides a clue in an historical mystery, uncovering a family ledger that reveals how a famous author developed his characters, identifying a molecule that just might have help in treatment of an intractable disease. People hunger for knowledge, for experiencing that sense of wonder and excitement of exploration that only the academic world can provide.
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