Our ‘Impact’ section here will tell you about a number of things concerning audio podcasts, their effect and usefulness. For us it is blatantly obvious that they have impact, specific and general, as we can see our user statistics (at present about 40000 hits/200 downloads a day and over 3500 incoming links) and responses we get via this website. Nevertheless ‘Impact’ has started to mean something very specific for UK universities, research institutes and organisations.
One of our experiences has been, when institutions make enquiry about our service after having read about our audio podcasts, that questions arise such as: ‘but where will you put the camera?’ or ‘can we put this on YouTube?’ or ‘how big is your film crew?’. Clearly, there appears to be something not quite right (apart from ignoring the ‘audio’ bit). Whilst the obsession with the visual medium is quite understandable, and it has become an issue of prestige and marketing priority, we find this very surprising that even prestigious and independently minded institution fall for visual gimmickry, pandering to the 5-minute attention span and the flickering screen. But we believe – and anyone who has ever studied will undoubtedly agree – that listening is the important part, understanding a lecture rather than wondering about the lecturer’s shirt or hairstyle. Also, more people will have access to streaming audio than video, as broadband speed, software plug-ins and data storage are of lesser importance. Additionally, audio downloads enable many more people to listen whilst doing other things such as travelling or housework. In all, if you want to reach the widest possible audience – and therefore have maximum impact – use audio
Impact for UK universities and Research Institutes
Impact, as understood by the research councils of the United Kingdom (RCUK) and other funding organisations, means, in their own words:
‘fostering global economic performance, and specifically the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom, increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy, and enhancing quality of life, health and creative output.’
‘All UK Research Councils are expected to be able to demonstrate the wider impact and value of academic research. In recent years there has been mounting concern to understand the distribution, utility and influence of research findings in non-academic contexts. This concern originates in part from political imperatives to demonstrate public value, for research to move towards pragmatic considerations in wider public discourse, in cultural, industry and policy environments.’
While is it very obvious that ‘impact’ means mainly ‘economic impact’, many research topics are not necessarily immediately marketable, and especially in the arts, humanities and social sciences the arrival of the impact agenda has given rise to much concern. But the relevant research councils have issued precise guidelines on these issues, which can be found here:
Other Research Councils:
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [EPSRC]
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council [BBSRC]
- Science and Technology Facilities Council [STFC]
- Natural Environment Research Council [NERC]
- Medical Research Council [MRC]
As you can gather the dissemination of research, for ‘impact’ and ‘knowledge transfer’, especially in electronic (internet) format is high on the agenda of all research funding institutions. Despite the recent cuts to HEFCE and the rather bleak outlook for universities in general, making use of our services is an affordable and highly effective way of disseminating your research: perhaps now more than ever, as using Backdoor Broadcasting works out many times cheaper than any institutional arrangements, reaching out to an already existing, worldwide audience as well as giving you the opportunity to possibilities of ‘economic impact’ through our other services.
It has also been our experience that many departments and research institutes have very little, in some cases no money at all to engage in podcasting, even though they would very much like to make use of it. We do keep are prices as low as possible – the initial pricing structures were (and still are) aimed to fit small departmental budgets. Even at our ridiculous low price of £1 per recorded minute, some institutions still found it difficult to find the money and in some cases we have engaged in pro bono work when we deemed the event important enough to forgo payment. But we have to make modest living, and therefore have to charge for our services. The funding councils above are always more inclined to your proposal if services such as ours are included. Please remember this when you write your conference/research project funding application. Also, on an institutional level, organisations such as the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) have grants to UK Higher Education institutions on a variety to levels, which can incorporate our services. We are particularly interested in exploring possibilities of business and institutional or community partnerships to disseminate academic research. Apart from these large organisations there are plenty of small trusts and bursaries which can fund your conference recordings and broadcasts. It is also an idea to approach publishers (should you have conference publication), as the podcasts from the conferences do sell the book.
Of course, the main focus of all impact on the internet relies on website statistics, which are quantifiable and therefore ‘real’. We can provide the basic statistics of the traffic that comes to our site for your event, and for a small charge, extended statistic about all visitors to your pages on our site.