Optimising for the field

The current situation

Research output is published primarily in the form of academic articles or research reports. These are then distributed and archived via journals and institutional repositories like the HvA Kennisbank (sometimes freely available, other times not). Additionally, each research group supports these publications with a varying selection of blogs, social media (ResearchGate), trade magazines and popular media outings.

Direct contact with organisations in each research groups’ respective professional field is established in different ways. Generally speaking, there are three possible relationships between them. Firstly, there are those organisations that partner with the research groups in their projects. These organisations are closely linked with the research group and influence the direction of the project they are involved in. Then there are those organisations that do know about the research groups and ‘consume’ their output. Lastly, there is the un(der)explored area of organisations in the field that have not come into contact with a research group or its output. Some research groups are very active in reaching out to organisations in this last group, moving them to the second group, mostly in the form of individual meetings and presenting at events for the sector.

 

Optimising this for use in the field

One of the clearest findings that came out of talking to festival professionals (my case study) is that they are not familiar with journals and institutional repositories. When I asked these professionals about their information needs, they told me the following. More than being a festival, the respective themes of their festivals are where their interests lie. Someone that organises a film festival will be more involved in information and innovation surrounding (for example) indie films, rather than festivals in general; people working at music festivals read media like 3voor12 and Pitchfork, which focus on new music, rather than festival innovations. The professionals did tell me that they are interested in research, for example research into audience experience. They often work with interns to research experiences at their own festival, often to satisfy subsidisers. However, this research serves the individual purpose of the festival, not the sector as a whole. Lastly, branche organisations and events, such as the VNPF and network events, were mentioned as places professionals come together to exchange knowledge and learn from each other. Even if these organisations and events don’t reach the entire field, they are useful hubs for research dissemination and interaction with the field.

The second reason why the current situation is not optimal for putting research findings to use in the field is that the functionalities and navigational structure of these results and repositories hardly cater to professional needs. They indicate that they want to read a summary of the report, but keep access to this report as a resource. As explained in the previous post, professionals prefer to navigate to the information from their own vantage point (role in the organisation, location, problem, interest), rather than the limitations / borders of the research project. To them, it is about information, rather than research results. Whether the information that they read is produced by the same research group is useful information, but not pivotal.

 

Next up…

I will discuss the following aspects of making a new strategy work:

  • community
  • communication and interaction
  • navigation, ordering and form
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