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What is public engagement? It is an more and more unavoidable question for any educational, but within the arts and humanities, it's nonetheless hotly contested. With the Analysis Excellence Framework's (REF) impression imperative on one aspect, and outcries over the humanities' intrinsic worth on the other, engagement debates are creating a frustrating (and self-fulfilling) dichotomy between the ivory tower and the "actual world". We want to begin a new conversation: one that does not establish unhealthy and pointless binaries. One that includes a brand new technology of researchers working in a hybrid model, the place research and public presence go hand in hand.


Beginning out in academia is a little bit like arriving in a Kafka-esque vacation resort. It's all smiles, loud shorts, ciapirinhas; then subsequent factor you already know you're questioning if the sand castle you simply made is REFable: how will it's assessed by the unknown, unseen powers that be? Confounded, we went to see the REF consultant lurking at the hours of darkness corridors of our residence establishment. It turns out REFable engagement is only a reification of what are already the perfect moments of research: considering by collaboration, sharing and shaping ideas through dialogue with numerous publics.


So let's work from that, earlier than getting bogged down in hollow rhetorics. Rethinking engagement is about realising that your career isn't dependent upon scrambling up the slippery ladder from PhD to professor. Lateral connections make you employable and resilient in greater training, so don't blinker yourself to a career that reaches beyond the gravy practice. We're not the primary to problem the notion of one-sided influence. It is proper there in Newton's laws of movement: every action has an equal and reverse response. Collaboration with community groups, policy-makers, and the artistic industries isn't just about field ticking: it is reciprocally rewarding, with impact ricocheting into your work.


And research would not simply occur within the library! We can't lay sole declare to the production of difficult, chopping-edge analysis. Acknowledging that we will learn just as much from artists, audiences and the subjects of our case research is significant for reassessing the benefits of public engagement beyond REF level-scoring.


Universities and research councils are desperate to throw cash at public engagement, so get savvy about tapping into funding, spaces and networks. Your institution in all probability has a PR division who would love to hear about your work, providing media hook-ups and promotion on your behalf. Lecturers like @DrKFenbyHulse and @philosophybites make it clear there isn't any opposition between rigorous analysis and a lively Twitter handle.


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  • Extra broadly, social media unravels the traditional hierarchies haunting academia. As @melissaterras discovered, net accessibility puts your research on the map for funders, readers and employers, and Tweeting about it could send your citations by way of the roof. Many universities have online repositories that may protect your work in the public area. Benefit from the fast turnaround of magazines and blogs.


    Put your identify in your research early, garner an viewers and feedback, and maximise on research time by growing strong articles into research papers, and research offcuts into blogs. By taking specialist-only circulation as the marker of severe analysis, we falsely associate excellence with a limited community of peers. Impact turns into a REFable tack-on - both demanded and derided by the establishment - placing researchers in a double bind of job market pressures. A brand new neighborhood of engaged researchers are changing this polarisation with a mixed mannequin: we're producing a vibrant third area, an autonomous in-between, which values the innovation and creativity of analysis past academia.

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