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Knowledge Mobilizers: SFU scholarly podcasters are redefining peer-reviewed work

April 08, 2021
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Knowledge Mobilizers is a story series from the Knowledge Mobilization Hub that highlights knowledge mobilization (KM) projects around the university. At SFU, KM is about collaborating on, and exchanging, research discoveries to create a positive impact in our far-reaching communities.

By Lupin Battersby

Hannah McGregor, SFU Publishing professor, and Stacey Copeland, SFU Communications PhD candidate are redefining scholarly output through their passion for creating and supporting scholarly podcasts.

Traditional scholarly outputs, peer-reviewed publications and manuscripts, are not necessarily the only or the best way of disseminating scholarly work. It can limit productivity, accessibility, and perpetuate inequities.

In search of better ways of sharing scholarly work in the humanities and social sciences, the duo teamed up with Siobhan McMenemy at Wilfrid Laurier University Press and launched the Amplify Podcast Network through a partnership grant. The project is both an example of the practice and study of knowledge mobilization and it is poised to transform how researchers approach scholarly work.

They suggest that the humanities are well positioned to use scholarly podcasting as an alternative to traditional scholarly outputs. As McGregor explains, “Humanities scholars don’t have data, we have archives; we don’t have findings, we interpret and analyze. This can be done just as well, if not better, in sound-based outputs.”

Through the Amplify Podcast Network, the team is developing and evaluating infrastructure and processes that support the production of scholarly podcasts. How this differs from the average podcast created or contributed to by researchers is that the peer-reviewed podcast is the scholarly output.

It is not a supplementary add-on to promote a newly published peer reviewed article: it has replaced the article entirely.  It is not increasing accessibility to scholarly work via open access publishing: it is open and accessible by virtue of the medium. Thus, by being both a peer reviewed scholarly output, and a knowledge mobilization output, the scholarly podcast addresses the limited resource of time problem, amongst others.

How did McGregor and Copeland find podcasting?

Copeland came to podcasting as a producer in the media industry, and then found research and theory. When she discovered that these two interests could be combined in academic study she was hooked.

McGregor, on the other hand, was podcasting as a side activity to her “real, serious, research.” However, the numerous invitations and accolades she received for podcasting revealed to her that she could indeed have her cake and eat it too, by making scholarly podcasting both her serious and her fun work.

And podcasting, according to McGregor, “is fun!”

What makes scholarly podcasting fun?

The medium is naturally set up to be more intimate, making space for dialogue and genuine connection. In addition, the reach and impact far exceeds traditional scholarly publications. For example, the episodes of podcasts that McGregor hosts, Secret Feminist Agenda and Witch, Please average between 5,000 and 15,000 downloads per episode, respectively. Beyond these typical reach indicators, McGregor receives messages from listeners sharing the positive impact the podcasts have had on their lives, from within and outside of academia.

McGregor sees scholarly podcasting as an opportunity to “transform what we think counts, how we do our work, and who it is for.” As community-engaged, accessible, and non-traditional scholarly outputs, scholarly podcasting supports diversity in academia.

Inspired, and ready to get started in podcasting?

The Amplify Podcast Network will be launching a toolkit soon, stay tuned; SFU Library’s Media and Maker Commons has a recording sound room and editing booth; and read The Peak’s overview of McGregor’s podcasting lunch and learn held last fall. And the SFU Knowledge Mobilization Hub is available to assist with all your knowledge mobilization planning, get in touch.