Sharing is Caring: Showing off your work is a good thing!

I thought I’d post this book recommendation after a series of interesting conversations at work about how our specific team shares its work online. Through blogs, websites, and social media we’ve built an engaged community of like-minded educators, creators, and researchers over the years, but how did we do it?

Well, there really wasn’t any particular master plan or social strategy, it was mainly just enthusiasm, a love for sharing our work, and having a good time doing it, which makes it fun to post our shenanigans along the way. There’s a great little book called “Show Your Work!” by Austin Kleon that sums it up perfectly. It’s well worth a read and it’s quick and easy to digest. Its a book about sharing your creative processes with the world. Its core message revolves around making your work visible to others by documenting and sharing the journey, not just the final product. The book outlines strategies for artists, writers, and other creatives to connect with their audiences by being open about their work, ideas, and inspirations. It emphasises the importance of transparency, teaching what you know, and engaging with a community to foster opportunities and collaborations.

But how might you apply this as a researcher in a university setting? Well, here’s a few ideas that could significantly enhance academic and professional endeavors:

  1. Document the Process: Researchers can share the progress of their studies, experiments, or findings on various platforms. This could be through blogging, social media, academic forums, or even within the university through seminars and newsletters. Documenting challenges, milestones, and insights not only makes the research process more transparent but also invites feedback and engagement from peers and the public.
  2. Teach What You Know: By sharing knowledge through workshops, online courses, or open lectures, researchers can establish themselves as experts in their fields. This approach not only disseminates knowledge but also encourages collaboration and fosters a learning community around their areas of study.
  3. Embrace the Portfolio Mindset: Instead of focusing solely on publishing in high-impact journals, researchers can build a diverse portfolio of work. This can include open education resources and tools, visualizations, and even preliminary findings shared on blogs, which can attract interest from outside the traditional academic circles.
  4. Network Through Sharing: By actively engaging in academic and research communities online and offline, researchers can build networks with potential collaborators, funders, and mentors. Sharing work openly can lead to opportunities such as joint research projects, funding, and invitations to speak at conferences or contribute to publications.
  5. Learn by Teaching: Researchers can enhance their own understanding and discover new perspectives by teaching their subjects. This can be done through mentoring students, teaching training, or creating educational content for the broader public.
  6. Feedback and Iteration: Openly sharing work allows researchers to receive feedback from a diverse audience, which can be invaluable in refining hypotheses, methodologies, or interpretations of data.
  7. Storytelling: Researchers can use storytelling techniques to make their work more accessible and engaging to non-specialists. This can help in garnering interest from a broader audience, including policymakers, industry leaders, and the general public, thereby increasing the impact of their research.

By adopting these strategies, researchers can not only amplify the reach and impact of their work but also contribute to a culture of openness and collaboration in academia. “Show Your Work!” provides a simple blueprint for leveraging the power of sharing in the digital age, which is increasingly relevant in the heyper-connected world we live in today. If you’re committed enough to be a researcher, delivering practice and publishing papers in paywalled journals just isn’t enough. To really give your work the impact it deserves you need to share your journey. You’ll be amazed how much further your hard work will reach if you open up and bring others along for the ride.

Check out Show Your Work, and other great books by Austin, on his web site here.