Making Your Research Usable Online


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Part of IssueLab's Fall 2009 Webinar Series, this presentation features easy steps to making the most of nonprofit research publications, and showcase examples of smart content creation and use.

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  • IssueLab works at the forefront of knowledge mobilization in the nonprofit sector. Besides archiving work and facilitating access to it, we also provide advocacy, education and services to help organizations make their research more usable online. This webinar will _Give brief overview of shift in information needs _Share thoughts on usability, what it means in online context _Follow evolution of what already happens online _Take a closer look at tools at disposal and tips for using them _Cover case story for smart content creation & use
  • Why do we need to worry about making our social and policy work usable? A shift in how people want info, means shift in how we give it. On the receiving end, this means: Folks expect research in familiar environments Audiences share info amongst themselves Want easy access to info they can understand For us nonprofits and knowledge creators, it means: Allowing research transfer into different networks Providing access to findings within social media These two items are associated with relinquishing a bit of control. Creating content from research that's easily shared
  • Traditionally, dissemination has heavily focused on pushing information & Public Relations/press. Typical action items no longer work...
  • ...because in an online environment, usability takes on a new meaning. Usable research means: _ catering to short attention span and info overload _ your audience can actually find it _ getting attention & speaking to viewer _ shareability, which can be accomplished in different ways
  • By making our research usable, we're actually trying to enable dissemination. Here is an evolution of what already happens online, by example of a research report released by the IFPRI. _ all these action points happen because an organization or individual is interested in the research – they find a way to share it.
  • This is great coverage, from traditional perspective. This organization was able to get great press and reach a wide audience. But, the audience really only reads what a journalist has written about your research, not the research itself. This kind of coverage still important, but as research producers, there is so much more we can do. The Good news is that nonprofits can start right now to make their research more usable to enable and encourage direct dissemination by audiences, without having to wait for a big break or press coverage.
  • Start by giving your audience the tools it needs to talk about the research. So when nonprofit publishes a report, we do as much as we can to help a person interact with the report.
  • These are some of the most common tools we see used in online dissemination today.
  • Remember: Social platforms also include online networks (ning, LinkedIn, Google Groups, local networks) where people gather around particular topics. For those of you on Twitter (or interested in engaging): _ people like to RT statistics _ encourage jump from press release to social media _ Ex: look for relevant hashtags (indicator for convo around particular topic) On facebook: _ it's easy for folks to express support/opinions _ look for groups relevant to your research _ Ex: post research on fan page
  • There are fairly simple widgets that encourage sharing. This works best if your report has a separate web page. Blogs are great vehicles for information – whether you write one yourself or are a source for others _ delve deeper into background or details _ find others who already write about your issue _ as expert on the topic, compose short guest posts to offer others
  • Considering open licensing for your research is a dimension that can really add to mobilizing your knowledge. Feeds are helpful to audience and an easy, time-saving tool for organizations. Consider adding your research to IssueLab.
  • Finally, I'm going to share a case study of outreach around a report by ULI which was just released this month. ULI created a great new website to accompany the report, which is wonderful but not necessaryif you don't have the resources – most of following activities can be achieved separately.
  • First – report is contextualized for user: _ explains efficient housing developments and what this means _cost calculator _ external resource links and other like-minded organizations
  • Second, this setup encourages the reader to take part by: _ passing the research along to peers _ finding the ULI in other online environments _ reading quotes from officials and experts, and submitting comments themselves _ staying connected
  • ULI and collaborating organizations had a strong online dissemination plan. (This is how I found out about the report) _online push to get the research to interested folks _listening to the conversation and taking part (retweet)
  • Finally, the actual report page is set up in a very user-friendly way. _ it helps readers to get short abstract or bullets of findings or recommendations _ separate documents for key findings (important for journalists and audiences on deadline) _report access, bookmarking and sharing
  • List of helpful links for some of the topics in this presentation.
  • Making Your Research Usable Online

    1. 1. bringing nonprofit research into focus. How to Make Your Research Usable Online Making the most of your publications through smart content creation and use. Presented as part of IssueLab's Fall 2009 Webinar Series
    2. 2. Shift in how audiences expect to receive information <ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Push, not pull
    3. 3. Peer information sharing
    4. 4. Free, accessible, easily digestible </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>= shift in how we package information. <ul><li>Distributed information networks
    5. 5. Social media accessibility
    6. 6. Smart content creation </li></ul>Why change? want! give!
    7. 7. What no longer works: “ We post our research on our website. I wrote a great abstract/summary! We always have a press release . We send an email blast about new publications to our listserv of 10,000 addresses. ”
    8. 8. Some thoughts on “usability” In an online context, usable research is: <ul><li>Short & digestible (facts, conclusions, recommendations) </li></ul><ul><li>Easily accessible (broad dissemination with direct path) </li></ul><ul><li>Visually attractive (graphs, maps, images, tables) </li></ul><ul><li>Shareable (copyrights, social media) </li></ul>
    9. 9. What might already happen online International Food Policy Research Institute publishes a report Reuters writes a story about the report Action Against Hunger re-posts the story The Food Section picks up and bookmarks the story The bookmark is seen and recommended by others An individual reads and condenses the story
    10. 10. What might already happen online But: 1) Everybody reads the Reuters story (which doesn't link to the research report) 2) Most nonprofits can't get this kind of press coverage Good News: You can make your research usable to enable and encourage direct dissemination International Food Policy Research Institute publishes a report Reuters writes a story about the report Action Against Hunger re-posts the story The Food Section picks up and bookmarks the story The bookmark is seen and recommended by others An individual reads and condenses the story
    11. 11. Give your audience the it needs to talk about your research. Usable research = enabling dissemination Nonprofit publishes a report. ( TOOLS ) An individual reads and condenses, comments on, interprets, downloads, uses, cites, recommends, bookmarks, or shares the report.
    12. 12. Usable research = enabling dissemination Nonprofit publishes a report. An individual reads and condenses, comments on, interprets, downloads, uses, cites, recommends, bookmarks, or shares the report. Blog RSS Bookmarking Social Platforms Sharing Open Licensing Contextualizing IssueLab
    13. 13. Examples & tips: <ul><li>Ask supporters to discuss findings
    14. 14. Introduce research to online groups
    15. 15. Example: National Policy Institute posts research on facebook (graphics, title, summary) </li></ul><ul><li>Pick quotes and facts to tweet repeatedly
    16. 16. Include suggested tweet in press release
    17. 17. Example: Institute for Policy Studies tweets release of new research report (including hashtag) </li></ul>Social Platforms
    18. 18. Examples & tips: <ul><li>Create separate listing pages (not just links to pdf reports)
    19. 19. Insert “sharing” widgets on website and blog
    20. 20. Example: Committee for Economic development library listing page - </li></ul>powered by IssueLab <ul><li>Short posts, explore specific niches
    21. 21. Contact bloggers with relevant data
    22. 22. Guest posts
    23. 23. Example: NeighborWorks shares its outcome system through a related Idealware blog post </li></ul>Sharing Blog
    24. 24. Examples & tips: <ul><li>Set up publications RSS feed
    25. 25. Separate feeds for research areas
    26. 26. Allow users to subscribe via email </li></ul><ul><li>Central repository, multidisciplinary
    27. 27. Archiving & knowledge mobilization
    28. 28. Example: Research about a chemical spill reaches an affected resident through IssueLab's Environmental Justice CloseUp </li></ul>IssueLab RSS <ul><li>Consider using Creative Commons
    29. 29. Open licenses encourage re-use with “some rights reserved” </li></ul>Open Licensing
    30. 30. Case Study Report: “Bay Area Burden” Organization: Urban Land Institute Publication Date: November 2009 Collaborating Organizations: Center for Housing Policy Center for Neighborhood Technology Website:
    31. 31. Case Study Provides Context: <ul><li>Explanations of terms & concepts
    32. 32. Cost Calculator
    33. 33. Further Resources and References </li></ul>
    34. 34. Case Study Encourages Interaction: <ul><li>Sharing, bookmarking
    35. 35. Connecting on other platforms
    36. 36. Community input and expert opinion
    37. 37. Press, updates </li></ul>
    38. 38. Case Study Strong dissemination: <ul><li>Highly visible on social networks
    39. 39. Promoted by partners and constituents
    40. 40. Easily passed on </li></ul>
    41. 41. Case Study Report Page: <ul><li>Digestible summary
    42. 42. Separate document for key findings
    43. 43. Report access, download
    44. 44. Easy sharing </li></ul>
    45. 45. Further Resources <ul><li>ResearchImpact – Canada's Knowledge Mobilization Network </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing on Facebook – Creating content that's easy to share </li></ul><ul><li>Transcript – “How to Share Nonprofit Research With a Wide Audience” </li></ul><ul><li>Beth's Blog – A Social Media Strategy for Scientific Research or Policy Impact </li></ul><ul><li>SubDomain – IssueLab's platform for effective digital libraries </li></ul>
    46. 46. Get in touch! [email_address] 773-649-1790 Twitter: @issuelab or @luisemarie (that's me!) Facebook: Blog: Credits: The sweet social media icons are courtesy of This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.