Discussion about communicating research

At this point, it is day 10 of the GPP trip and we have finished visiting all of the Swiss Universities that we were planned to visit.  We have experienced different kinds of presentation styles, different presenter personalities, and various learning environments.  During group discussions following our visits, the topic of communication has surfaced frequently.  Communication of results is a crucial component of research and yet it is not explicitly focused on in most Universities.

The question which 21st century researchers will need to answer is; are peer-reviewed articles the best way to disseminate knowledge?  There are strong arguments for both sides of the debate.  On one hand, peer-review helps ensure quality and validity of research methods and conclusions.  On the other hand, most peer-reviewed journals are exclusive, expensive, and have a limited audience.

My follow-up questions for the discussion are what is our primary goal as researchers?  Who is the end user of our work?  Do we have an ethical or social obligation to adequately inform all people who may be affected by our research?  I am still figuring out answers to these questions pertaining to my field, but I wonder if maybe different fields can have different answers.  Maybe some areas of research need to be more in the public sphere and others don’t.  It is an interesting discussion and is one that the new generation of academics need to figure out.

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