Editing for impact

Publication in peer-reviewed journals is essential to success in the academic world. But a list of publications is no longer enough. Universities and funding bodies are increasingly seeking accounts of how published research reverberates within and beyond academia: the citations, the patents, the treatment protocols, the policy changes, the way research informs debates in business and civil society. Although people debate the intensifying focus on ‘impact’, its relationship with quality, and the ways it is measured, most academics want to share their discoveries and analyses with a wider audience. They’re passionate about their work and understand the importance of good scholarship for informing practice and debate.

Academics have lots of strategies for getting other academics to read and refer to their work. They target prestigious journals with large circulations in the hope that some of that prestige will rub off. They submit to open access journals whose papers may be accessible to more potential readers and gain more citations. They build academic networks in traditional ways like presenting their research at local and international conferences and participating in scholarly societies. And in newer ways like networking sites where researchers can share their work and make papers available outside of pay walls. They tweet, they blog, they podcast, they write media releases. Then they track the way their research travels around the web.

Once published, a well-written (and well-edited) article is likely to reach a wider audience than one that is impenetrable. The articles that I have most frequently cited and have enthusiastically passed on to others have not only reported interesting research or analysis, but have also been lovely to read, with a compelling narrative that made me want to engage with the findings and ideas they presented. I certainly appreciated the effort and I admit that I have sometimes given short thrift to articles that may have had equally important things to say, but that were needlessly abstruse or badly written.

For further impact on business, civil society and public debate professional editors can also assist academics to connect with audiences outside of academia. Researchers often have to repackage research in accessible form: articles for The Conversation, newspaper columns, even radio documentaries. After years of training in academic conventions, they must become effective communicators to a much wider audience. Professional editors are experts in code shifting, and can ensure that the register and style of your writing is just right for its readers, whoever they are.

To discuss the impact of your work, please get in touch with Bluestocking Academic Editing today.

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