How Do I Make People Care About My Research? This Study Shows Podcast, Episode 1

September 23, 2019 Samantha Green

Wiley’s new podcast, This Study Shows, explores how we tell the story of science. Over the next six episodes, we’ll explore how researchers can connect outside their academic circles or bubbles to capture the hearts, minds, and even imaginations of the public.  

And we’re so excited to get started. This first episode is called “How do I make people care?” If “facts are facts,” why don’t they hold up against skepticism or doubt? Maybe because we need to find the emotional truth inside all that data.

This episode features Mona Chalabi from the Guardian US, Tali Sharot from University College London, and David A. Kirby from California Polytechnic State University. You can subscribe and download at iTunes, Spotify, Castbox, and Deezer.

This Episode Got Us Thinking:  

Why is it so hard to care about numbers?  

Mona Chalabi uses hand drawn illustrations to make data memorable. So often if you removed the labels from a chart it could be about anything. And what’s worse, people often approach data (and numbers in general) with fear and skepticism. Maybe they’re worried they won’t understand it, or they’re remembering bad experiences of high school math class. Mona’s illustrations marry the subject matter of the data with its visualization.  

Chart of caffeinated beverages
Image credit: Mona Chalabi

And it’s impactful (too many espresso-filled Mondays for this to not resonate).

Tali Sharot also zeroes in on our emotional response to information in this episode. We all know this, but I think it bears repeating: people don’t like to be told, “you’re wrong, and here’s the data to prove it.” But it’s possible to communicate research in a way that focuses on the impact you want to have rather than your data. We might not change minds, but we can change actions.  

So, our aversion to numbers might be based on how we learned them, a fear of frustration, or how they are often used to try and force our minds to change.  

It all comes down to emotion and perception. We believe what we want to believe, we don’t want our minds changed, and things we don’t understand frustrate us. On top of that, what we see all around us has a profound impact on how much we care about research or data.  

David A. Kirby made this last part clear when he talked about scientists in Hollywood. If viewers see movies where the science is ridiculous, or where science is the villain, that’s going to have an effect on how legitimate they think science is.  

That’s a lot for our first episode of this podcast.  

How do we make people care? By reminding them what the numbers are all about, thinking about why we want them to care, and remembering that our data exists in a world full of other media and information sources that impact how our work will be perceived.  

We hope you enjoy the first episode of the podcast and don’t forget to subscribe or follow at thisstudyshows.com so you won’t miss an episode. 

 

About the Author

Samantha Green

Society Marketing, Wiley // Samantha Green joined Wiley in 2012, working in the Social Science and Humanities Community Marketing team at Wiley. She now works in the Society Strategy & Marketing creating content on publishing trends and the research community.

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