This course familiarizes students with the concept of valorization, also known as knowledge utilization. The course focuses on both valorization in the context of research proposals and on a concrete valorization product: the popular science article. |
The goals of this course are:
1. to understand the valorization requirements of research funding organizations;
2. to pitch the valorization possibilities of your research to both a scientific as well as a lay public;
3. to present your own valorization proposal to both scientists as well as policy makers;
4. to present your own research to a general audience in an accessible and attractive article;
5. to apply register-appropriate stylistic and rhetorical devices to your own article;
6. to conduct an interview with an expert and incorporate it in your article to support its main point;
7. to investigate scientific claims in popular science writing in order to evaluate science communication.
Valorization has become an increasingly important aspect of scientific research. The Dutch Organization for Scientific Research, NWO, defines knowledge utilization as:|
“a process that facilitates the use of scientific knowledge outside of academia and/or by other scientific disciplines. The process often requires interaction between the researcher and the intended knowledge user, and this contact can take place in all phases of the research: from formulating the research question through to disseminating the research results”.
In the first part of the course, the focus lies on the concept of and possibilities for valorization and on how to embed valorization in research proposals for various research funding organizations. In research proposals, a section on (potential) knowledge utilization is obligatory, which plays an increasingly important role in the evaluation of such proposals.
In this first part, students learn to identify relevant knowledge users of the research they (plan to) conduct and are aware of possible strategies to reach these intended knowledge users. They acquire the skills to pitch their research for both a scientific as well as a lay public. From there, they move to acquire the skills to include a valorization section in research applications and to reach out to potential knowledge users and develop a plan in which they describe how they will go about presenting the results of their research both to the general public and more specific target groups that may be interested in their research.
In the second part of the course, students focus on disseminating the research results, also known as science communication. Sound science communication is becoming increasingly important, with science being questioned and misleading information flourishing. Science communication is about finding ways to present your academic work in a clear and attractive way. Another important goal of science communication is to foster a greater understanding of science and of its importance among the general public. We will discuss the various roles you can perform as science communicator and the necessity of sound science communication.
This second part focuses to a great extent on creating your own popular science article, based on your own research. You will learn how to use stylistic and rhetorical devices to create an understandable popular science article that appeals to your non-specialist audience. Typical issues include: which results to focus on, how to avoid jargon, and how to simplify without oversimplifying. You will also learn how to conduct an interview with an academic expert and incorporate this in your science news story. You will also fact-check the scientific claims in a published science news story to explore the difficulties in bringing scientific findings across.
The course is taught in the form of a series of workshop-style meetings. Experts such as a policy officer or senior researcher will be invited to talk about various aspects of valorization and how to go about it. Students will be given various assignments in which they are challenged to translate and apply what they have learned through the meetings to their specific research focus. Students prepare for the meetings by reading relevant materials and completing assignments. Student participation in the meetings is through discussions and presentations.
Portfolio with the following assignments:
1. Pitch valorization proposal (10%)
2. Valorization section grant proposal (40%)
3. Fact-check assignment (10%)
4. Popular science article (40%)
All assignments should receive a sufficient grade to pass the course.