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Research by Emerald Publishing highlights strong desire among students for innovative research content forms


A new report by Emerald Publishing (@EmeraldGlobal) has found students and academics want research outputs to be more useable for both students and those outside of academia.

The report, which explores how students and academics learn, research and present research, poses the question for how long traditional academic output remains the primary way to communicate research. The survey gathers the views of 1,500 academics from over 100 countries worldwide and 1,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students from 10 different countries.

In comparison to life outside of academia, there is a clear mismatch between academic traditions and how students consume information. On average, students switch off from academic content after 28 minutes. Almost half of students (43%) and academics (45%) agree that research papers include too much information and are too long to digest, with only 30% of students reading the full article.

There have been calls for innovation within teaching, but the traditional lecture has always dominated the scene. Teaching approaches have been forced to change significantly during the Covid pandemic, with academics adapting lectures for remote students and providing digital and interactive content.

While the education sector is yet to learn which changes will remain post-pandemic, the research highlighted that students are hungry for a more varied learning experience, with students citing video and animation (32%), traditional books (31%) and social media (29%) as the top content types they wanted to see used more at university.

The research shows that students are more drawn to digital content, citing the internet (62%), YouTube (61%) and social media (54%) as the most popular platforms for consuming information outside of academia. When choosing a social media platform, YouTube was the most popular (74%) followed by Facebook (52%) and Instagram (50%).

Students believe a combination of traditional methods combined with technology would aid their learning at university. Popular content forms that were preferred were training courses and quizzes (24%), case studies (23%), podcasts (23%), journal articles (23%), infographics (22%), annotated articles (21%), structured abstracts (21%) and games (21%).

Juliet Harrison, Cases Lead at Emerald Publishing, commented:

“This research highlights that undergraduates, postgraduates and academics want change within higher education and believe that research could be made more accessible through greater use of new and existing technologies.

“Some of the students surveyed will become the Early Career Researchers and academics of the future. As their careers grow, our hope is that these students will take the innovations and new ways of sharing research with them, in order to revolutionise the way academic research is presented. Our aim as a publisher is to equip researchers with a service that enables innovative content types and non-traditional research outputs.”

Looking to the future, Emerald Publishing intends to continue to innovate with new content types and support non-traditional research outputs, challenge cultural barriers, accelerate open research and invest in freely available content and short summaries as well as support the research communities with ways to improve impact literacy and make publishing easier and frictionless.

Emerald Publishing recently launched its Cases Hub, a free learning platform with digestible courses designed to help authors write a quality case study to increase their chance of publication. Each course includes short videos from experts that will help authors identify, write and publish a case study. Alongside this, academics can get advice from leading case writing experts on how to teach cases and motivate students to make the most of experimental learning with cases.

The report forms part of the Emerald Publishing’s Closing the Impact Gap campaign in which there will be a series of  content available including podcasts, blogs, videos and a webinar panel discussion debating if ‘Research Output is Fit for the Future’, featuring academics, practitioners and users. Emerald is also offering free access to key articles around the subject.

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