April 2014 Issue • Volume 42 • Issue 4

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Socio-Innovations at SAGE Publications

Sophia Puglisi, SAGE Sociology Journals, Sophia.puglisi@sagepub.com

When it comes to innovation, scholars are a mainstay. From careful observation to great discovery, they play an integral role in advancing society. SAGE (myself included) is proud to help sculpt scholarly research into its print and online forms. But at the end of the work week, even the most momentous PDF in the history of research amounts to little if no one downloads it.

In other words, it isn’t enough to publish great research without promoting it. Fortunately for our journals, there are more ways than ever before to increase the discoverability of great research. With the help of emergent social media channels (e.g., Twitter and Facebook), email campaigns, and discipline-specific blogs, spreading awareness of our authors’ work is easy—although not always simple. 

Promote! Promote! Promote!

Maintaining the integrity of highly reputable, peer-reviewed research means navigating social media thoughtfully and, at times, strategically. It is with this in mind that SAGE’s Socio-Innovations remain a truly collaborative effort. Scholars may be the backbone of innovation, but that’s not to say they belong in the backseat. If you write/record/say/do something that relates to your research, at least one of @SAGEsociology’s 13,100 (as of April) Twitter followers might want to hear about it. Or better yet, retweet it.

Think tweeting is for tweens? Reconsider this. A recent article from our SAGE Connection blog, “6 reasons why researchers of any age should get active on Twitter,” makes several strong arguments in favor of tweeting, from “joining provocative, important conversations in real time” to boosting your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking.

If you are unconvinced, tell us why in a tweet @SAGEsociology (or the American Sociological Association’s Twitter page, @ASAnews). Promoting your work may be a matter of less than 140 characters…or a 10- to 15-minute phone call to produce a podcast about your work.

SAGE Podcasts

The Purpose: If you believe the notion that people remember a mere 10 percent of what we read, 20 percent of what we hear, but up to 70 percent of what we discuss with others, and 95 percent of what we teach to someone else, researchers may have a problem.

Podcasts automatically position listeners in that “20 percent” territory. What’s more, podcast content may well go beyond the “what we hear” and inspire listeners to engage in further discussion (on social media or elsewhere); or listeners use what they’ve learned to teach someone else. That 10 percent of a print journal article becomes 95 percent before you know it.

Statistics like this draw attention to the advantage of going beyond the text-based nature of traditional research. A short sound bite—a bit of dialogue, some commentary, an anecdote—may help students and scholars get a better grasp on the bigger picture.

Usage reports regularly show that podcasts result in more click-throughs to articles. A combination of factors explains this trend: traffic from iTunes, podcast promotion on Twitter/Facebook, un-gated articles, etc. In my opinion, the fundamental reason is that podcasts breathe more life into authors’ passion projects. Many authors do this in some capacity already, verbally presenting their work in the classroom or at conferences. So, why not record it?

Some Pointers: SAGE podcasts are designed as brief conversation or monologue about a research article that a student can listen to on the way to class. All creating a podcast entails is scheduling a call with me, during which you would discuss the article while I record via Skype (for those familiar with my standard podcast invite, this may look vaguely familiar).

While there are no required talking points or strict interview guidelines (we encourage authors to be creative in this regard) I do have a few tips/tricks to offer:

As researchers, I realize you are often asked to be as far-removed from the work as possible. But this is your opportunity to bring yourself back in. Podcasts provide the opportunity to share why you undertook the project in the first place—and what’s more, why readers should care.

People aren’t investing their time in the podcast. They are investing in the content (and you!) For an example of some of the SAGE podcasts, see sociology.sagepub.com/sociology-home-page/multimedia/.

The Partnership

As the “natural home for authors,” the collaboration between author and publisher is SAGE’s number one priority, even as we grow in size. Thus, we embrace innovation with the philosophy that this relationship is key to our shared success. Podcasts reward me personally in this regard. Having the opportunity to speak with authors is often the highlight of my workday, if not my entire day.

From the 70 or so podcasts I have recorded so far, I have learned a lot, from the effects grandparents can have on social mobility, to meanings of misogyny in rap music, to lessons in masculinity from news coverage of John Boehner’s “tearful episodes.” I have spoken with scholars across the United States, the UK, Australia, and most recently, France.

For me and for our listeners, podcasts provide a kind of tuition-free education, like dropping in to visit professors during office hours. Underrated, and the price is just right.

For more information, please contact Sophia Puglisi, Editorial Assistant, SAGE Sociology Journals at Sophia.puglisi@sagepub.com.


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