COMMUNICATION PLANNING FOR RESEARCHERS
These guidelines are to assist CRC Reef researchers to plan how to communicate research results to the end-user in the most effective way.
One of the aims of a Cooperative Research Centre is to ensure that results of research are made available to potential users, and converted into outcomes of economic, environmental or social benefit to Australia.
CRC Reef uses a number of tools to communicate research outcomes to the members and other interested parties including the website, newsletter, information sheets and technical reports. Through formal advisory committees, the task associate program, workshops and conference presentations our messages reach a wider audience.
These processes are coordinated by the CRC Reef Communication team who can help researchers with planning and communication.
We encourage CRC Reef researchers to take an active role in communication, to strengthen the relationship with research users. From the beginning of your project, you should think about how you plan to tell people about your research objectives and results. Communication planning should be part of the task proposal process. An outline of the communication plan should be included in the Abbreviated Task Proposal, and a more detailed strategy in the Full Task Proposal. By building it into research planning, the necessary links with industry and management can be established early on.
One or more Task Associates from relevant partner agencies will be assigned to each task – this will provide an important link to key research users. Where possible, the research communication plan should be developed in consultation with the task associates.
Refer to the Guidelines and fill in the Your Communication Plan form (Microsoft Word Document)
By addressing the following questions, you will form the bones of a communication plan, which will help to ensure that the research is communicated to the end-user in the most effective way. It will also improve the uptake of research by reef-based industry and management.
What are your research objectives and likely outcomes ?
CRC Reef research priorities are identified by the CRC Reef Board in response to information needs of the partners. These needs will have guided your research objectives, and will set the direction for your communication plan. Think about the possible outcomes of your research. What information/answers do you hope to get from your research?
Who will be interested in the outcomes (i.e. target audience)?
CRC Reef has nine member organisations, each with specific interests in your research. In addition to the members, other parties (stakeholders), such as businesses, research or tertiary education institutes, conservation groups, indigenous groups and schools may be interested in hearing about your research outcomes. Who are they?
What is the best way to communicate your research to the different audiences (check the communication products and activities table)?
You will probably want to communicate with different audiences who will have varied levels of interest in your findings. Think about the best way to reach different people, including other scientists, CRC Reef member organisations, industry members, managers and community groups. Business and industry will want to hear how your research relates to their operations, while management agencies may want to apply it in policy development. Maybe your research is of interest to the general public or school children. You will need to use different communication tools for different audiences and need to pitch your message at different levels. The CRC Reef Communication staff can help with this communication process, but in most cases, the audience will prefer to hear from you.
The written medium
CRC Reef produces a regular newsletter, technical reports and state-of-knowledge brochures, which serve different communication needs. Which of these printed products would be suitable for your research results?
Traditionally, the final outcome of CRC Reef research has been reported as a technical report. If you are planning to write a technical report, please consult the following guidelines:
However, this may not be the most appropriate and cost-effective output, particularly if the audience is limited. You may prefer to combine scientific journal articles with a plain-English summary for a more general audience.
Will your research results be of interest to the tourism or education market? If so, a graphic and colourful product may be more appropriate. If your target audience is the indigenous community, then your written material should be in an appropriate style. If you are intending to produce specialist written products, you will need to budget for their production.
Perhaps your work is part of a bigger picture and can be included in a synthesis document. Have you talked to other researchers to explore opportunities to collaborate on this type of document?
Are there existing communication channels you can use such as an industry newsletter with an established circulation? This could be a direct, cost-effective link to your target audience.
All CRC Reef researchers should provide a brief research summary for the website. This is also an ideal medium for written research results, which can be accessed by a broad target audience. Think about how your research results may be best presented on the web.
Face-to-face presentations are always worth the effort, provided you are well prepared. What would be the best forum for presenting your research? Most researchers should take the opportunity to give a seminar as part of the AIMS, JCU or GBRMPA series. If your research has a specific industry focus, then look for opportunities to present at industry conferences and expos.
CRC Reef researchers have the opportunity to work closely with managers and industry partners through the task associate relationship. There should be regular face-to-face feedback throughout the research program. A seminar to a broader group (e.g. fisheries management committee, GBRMPA staff, tourism industry group) might also be well received.
Do you owe feedback to people who have participated in your research?
Some research (social sciences in particular) relies heavily on cooperation and input by stakeholders e.g. tourists, recreational and commercial fishers. These people will expect some feedback on the final outcome. Think how you can best do this e.g. face-to-face, mail-out of information sheets, an article in their association magazine? A clear summary of your research results written in plain-English may be more appropriate for this audience than a scientific journal article or lengthy technical report.
Who will communicate your research?
As a CRC Reef researcher you are encouraged, where possible, to take an active role in communicating your research outcomes to the different target audiences you have identified. Make sure you build this important process into your planning. CRC Reef has dedicated communication staff, who can provide advice and support.
Who will pay?
Developing your communication skills
CRC Reef offers sometraining courses to help you develop your communication skills, including media skills courses. Make the most of these courses and the expertise offered by CRC Reef communication staff. If you have specific training needs, you can discuss them with the CRC Reef staff.