Podcasts have truly evolved to become hubs for global conversations.
No matter how niche or general a particular topic may be, the voices, knowledge and information from podcasts are unbound and unrestricted, reaching people from all corners of the world.
While many businesses see the benefits of creating their own podcasts, we are also witnessing a growing use of podcasts in education. However, only a fraction of academic scholars and universities out are using the podcast platform to its fullest extent.
The majority of academic research is often locked behind journal paywalls or disseminated at conferences that require registration fees and resources for travel. In contrast, podcasts are almost exclusively open-access, as podcasters seek to have their work achieve maximum impact and reach.
So, whether you’re a researcher, an academic or a department head at a university, here are some obvious and not-so-obvious considerations on why you should absolutely start a podcast for your particular field of expertise.
Accessibility, Reach and the “Matthew effect”
Digital engagement is a crucial factor that will help grow your audiences beyond the confines of academic journals and research communities. With expanded reach, podcasting puts your research on a completely new platform, increasing the odds that new audiences – from other experts to the lay persons and even politicians – will hear about your research.
The discussions facilitated by podcasts can act as a normalising force for graduate students, which would otherwise not be accessible. It has been remarked that, "…listening to their (the podcast host’s) conversations, I can kind of feel like I’m part of the sort of social group in a way."
Podcasting is therefore a way to continue the conversation with your students.
but also a way to bring your research to pressing, complex problems, and a way to reach unexpected audiences of people that may never sit in a university classroom.
The Constitutional Cafe podcast from The Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at the Melbourne Law School is a perfect example of this. Reaching Constitutional Law students, graduates and enthusiasts all over the world, the podcast has been a powerful way to increase engagement with their audience and present information in an accessible way.
The “Matthew Effect”, in which successful scientists are more likely to have additional successes, is a considerable issue in science. Traditionally, only established academics get the opportunity to communicate science, as broadcasting opportunities are limited when working with conventional media organisations.
Podcasts solve this issue entirely by providing an accessible format that can give a voice to early career researchers and underrepresented minority groups, who would otherwise not have such opportunities.
Positioning as a Thought Leader and Benefits for Scientific Communities
Podcasts can also be a powerful way for academics and researchers to benefit their careers and take advantage of opportunities. There are two types of career-specific information that are mostly communicated verbally and not written down.
The first is academic social knowledge, which includes, for example, what grant schemes are available, how to navigate difficult situations, and when new positions become available, among other things.
If you are part of a network that shares this type of knowledge, then you have a distinct career advantage, but it can be difficult for early career researchers to break into these circles, especially those who are intellectually isolated in their departments. It should be noted that, indeed, intellectual isolation is an underappreciated issue which researchers can experience when working in an area their department does not specialise in.
The second type of seldom communicated academic information is the unwritten rules of academia, such as the idiosyncrasies of the academic publishing system.
A university department podcast can be used to break down these social boundaries and discussions on the podcasts can provide valuable career-specific information for early-career researchers, especially first-generation scholars, thus truly making them feel like they are “part of an ongoing conversation or story that was unfolding, sometimes just for them”.
Podcasts are truly hubs of modern, global conversations, and one sure way to build a better tomorrow is to open-source the knowledge of academia to the wider audiences, from the layperson to experts alike.
These have been just some of the reasons why you should consider starting a podcast, whether you’re a researcher with a desire to further broaden and share your research in hopes of reaching other experts in the field and establishing new connections, or as a university department – to provide tremendous benefits for your academic community at large. Just remember to stay authentic, consistent and compelling!
And if you're interested to learn more about how a podcast can benefit your department, or if you have a podcast idea you'd like to bring into fruition, reach out! We're happy to have a chat and explore if we can help.
- Heshmat, Y. et al. (2018) Quality ‘Alone’Time through Conversations and Storytelling: Podcast Listening Behaviors and Routines. , in Proceedings of the 44th Graphics Interface Conference, pp. 76–83
- Petersen, A.M. et al. (2011) Quantitative and empirical demonstration of the Matthew effect in a study of career longevity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 108, 18–23