The promotion of findings is essential to any study however big or small. Sharing findings fulfils the purpose for embarking on research. Generally, the purposes for research are to:
- Find answers to a specific question
- Widen our understand about something
- Create change
We have also seen that research with young people has even more to offer because it can:
- Create better research
- Fulfil young people’s rights to be heard
- Support young people’s agency and empowerment
- Build more critical communities of young people
GO TO – ‘WHY: Benefits of involving children and young people in research’
Reporting findings of research with young people
Involving young people in the preparation and dissemination of report findings is important and can be particularly compelling. It can:
- Vividly demonstrate the contribution that young people have made by hearing about the research from the young people involved
- Educate and inform others about young people’s capabilities and viewpoints as fully-fledge citizens
- Empower young people within their communities
- Demonstrate to those involved and young people generally that others want to listen to them
- Build young people’s sense of belonging and commitment to their communities
- Highlight important issues and topics in young people’s lives
- Broker positive changes to support young people
- Reveal and communicate new views of the world
Involving young people in preparing and disseminating findings
Involving young people has implications for the way:
- Research findings are compiled e.g. in written reports, or in other ways such as research posters and these can be online or in hard copy
- Findings are presented to others e.g. in formal presentations to specific groups of people, in conferences open to a wide audience of people or informal feedback to individual stakeholders.
Young people can contribute much towards the production of research findings for adult and child audiences; assist in producing materials other than reports, for example plays, videos or posters, dramas etc. If findings are made available to them young people can give talks presenting part or all of the research findings; use the research findings to inform, advocate and argue for change.
Planning to report research findings
The way we present and disseminate (tell others about) research findings depends on the purpose of the research. A simple approach to promoting research findings is to use the 5W’s + H – ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Why’, ‘Where’ and ‘When’ …. plus ‘How’
is interested in your research question; or understanding more about your research topic?
do people most want to know?
do they want to know these things?
do they look for information i.e. where should the research findings be put?
is the best time to disseminate the findings to those interested?
would those interested best like findings to be presented?
WHO is interested in your research findings?
There are a range of people interested in any piece of research. Research with young people is nearly always of interest to other young people. However, preconceptions about what might or might not interest young people should be avoided. Findings should be made interesting and accessible to the widest possible range of people, including young people even if not specifically targeted at a specific young person’s issue.
WHAT will people most want to know about the research?
Different people will want to know different things. One way of dealing with this is to think about layers of information for different audiences. These layers can provide the right level of information for a wide range of adults and young people. Preparing information in these ‘layers’ can help to quickly tailor your findings for your important audiences.
WHY do people want to know about your research findings?
When preparing your ‘layers’ of information it is important to reflect upon the potential significance of your findings for the people you hope to reach. Preparing your findings in a way that will be of interest to your audience will increase the likelihood that they will pay attention to what you say, to remember it and possibly take action. Young people involved in the research may understand the significance of research findings to other young people very well and be able to advise on how to present information.
WHERE should research findings be put?
Understanding where people look for or where people might accidentally stumble across information is important in getting your research findings noticed. You may need to get advice. Young people involved in research will know what sorts of information sources, particularly social media sources are currently in fashion.
WHEN is the best time to disseminate the findings to those interested?
Knowing what is happening in the lives of the people to whom you wish to communicate your findings is important. For instance, contacting professionals during holiday periods could mean that information is missed. Using social media during the school day might miss young people who do not have access to their phones in school / college. Meanwhile linking a launch of your findings soon after an announcement about the same topic might draw attention to your study. Care also has to be taken in case your study is overshadowed.
What is happening in young people’s lives is different to adults. For instance, young people have intense periods of studying to sit exams which most adults do not. It is important to talk to young people to find out about when they are open to receiving information.
HOW would those interested best like findings to be presented?
There are a wide range of ways to present and promote findings. The what, why, when and where questions will help to inform you about the best ways. How you present and promote findings can determine how much attention people give to your research. Young people can be particularly good at identifying ways which are novel and attention-grabbing. Look at the range of ideas in this section and consider how these could be further developed.
Ways to report research
Your purpose for communicating your research is to create change by:
- Informing people and building bodies of new knowledge to support future action
- Providing answers to questions which might demonstrate new opportunities
- Presenting compelling arguments for specific changes
General principles of communicating research:
- Know your target audience – Follow the 5 W’s + H to plan reports which are tailored to the particular people you want to influence
- Focus on the most important points for the audience – not all the points
- Keep the communication as simple as possible
- Give the communication impact– make it interesting and enjoyable
- Take the opportunity to engage interested readers in the research by signposting them to further information about your research.
These are traditionally the most common way of presenting study findings.
Reporting findings to organisations who have formal procedures for making decisions because it gives a lasting record of details of the research to support decisions.
Written academic articles are published in journals to give a lasting record of research findings which others can use to build their own research.
Written reports can be demanding in terms of the time they take to write and read because of the amount of detail they can contain.
- Decide what ‘layer’ of information the people receiving the report need (See WHAT will people most want to know about the research) and focus on the right amount of detail.
- Think of ways of presenting information as clearly and simply as possible within the report and give the reader some variety to their reading, for instance use:
- Graphs and charts to present numbers and numerical information
- Diagrams and pictures to show relationships between facts and illustrate key points
- Ask the recipients what sort of report is most useful; how long or short; if they have a set format they are used to reading.
GO TO: the resources section to see examples of research reports
Long reports often have an ‘Executive Summary’ and Academic articles have an ‘Abstract’ at the start outlining the key points that are expanded in the main report. These prepare and help the reader take in the detailed information in the main report. Summary reports can also be used on their own, giving the reader a place to go and read the full report e.g. on a website if they wish.
Communicating key findings to busy people with little time or interest in reading a long, detailed report. Also good for choosing and presenting information for a specific group of people. Preparing separate reports for people who have slightly different interests in the topic can be the most effective way of sharing results of a study.
Being able to choose the most important information for different groups of people can be difficult. One way of helping is to connect the different reports so that you can refer people from one group to other aspects of the topic in another report.
The best practice principle of writing full length reports apply to summary reports. In addition, short reports are written in a more succinct style. Readers can be to other sources for further details e.g. a different report or a website where for instance more detailed statistical results are found or more details about the research methodology and methods are set out.
GO TO: the resources section to see examples of summary research reports
Infographics and posters:
Infographics and posters are ways of telling people about the most important highlights of research. They use diagrams, pictures and charts to make them interesting and impactful to get readers’ attention. Infographics and posters are often used alongside a report to introduce or advertise the research. They can also be used at a gathering of people to use to help talk about the research.
- Getting peoples’ attention especially if they are busy but also for simplifying and drawing attention to the most important parts of the research.
- It can be challenging to choose the most important points. Going back to identifying WHO you want to read about your research and then WHAT they will want to know will guide you.
The best infographics and posters have:
- A simple eye-catching design:
- Which uses pictures and images to draw attention to the topic
- With enough but not too many colours
- Clear writing which is not too small and uses the same font (style) throughout
- Uses two or three sizes of writing (not too many) for headings to draw attention to key points
- Information written in short simple sentences and short paragraphs
- A clearly, set out route through the information using the design or arrows or numbered sections to help the reader
- A way of getting the reader’s interest e.g. asking a question or making them think about a particular aspect of the topic / your findings, making a headline of an unexpected fact/finding.
GO TO: the resources section to see examples of infographics and posters reporting research
This is another popular way of reporting research findings. Personal presentations can take place at number of different sorts of events. Researchers can create an event e.g. to present their findings to all the stakeholders involved by inviting them all to gather at the end of the study. Researchers can also apply to share their findings at academic, professional and public events organised by individuals and associations with an interest in their topic.
Sharing and getting feedback about the research with people interested in the topic. This provides opportunities to continue to develop understanding about the topic. It is also an opportunity to thank stakeholders for their participation, to strengthen and grow your network of people interested in your topic. It is an excellent opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the topic and impress upon your audience how important it is. The contribution of young people to personal presentations is often very compelling. The way in which they express their ideas and enthusiasms is often novel to adult audiences and interesting to both adults and other young people.
Good presentations can take time to prepare and sometimes it takes time and practice for people to feel confident about presenting to people in person.
Personal presentations use all the best practice of preparation using the 5 Ws and HOW. In addition, many use presentation slides to help the audience follow the speaker’s key points. Presentation slides should follow the best practice guidance associated with infographics and posters. In addition, there are some key points to remember when giving personal presentations:
- The length of presentations can vary. What is important is that you think about your audience and how long they will be interested to concentrate upon your presentation. Think about whether your audience would prefer to have more time to ask questions and discuss rather than simply listen. Organise how much you will say to suite their needs. A 20-minute maximum is a good rule of thumb for most presentations.
- As for other ways of sharing your results don’t forget to end with a request to your audience to do something that will help to take your research forwards. This can be as simple as requesting feedback and sharing your contact details; referring them to further information; inviting them to leave their contact details to receive future information
- Whenever possible involve young people from research in personal presentations. Young people can lead and share presentations. If that is not possible audio and video contributions can be inserted and young people’s quotes used to shape key points in compelling ways.
Creative ways of reporting research findings
Creative ways of reporting research findings might be particularly appropriate to share the findings of studies that have used creative ways of data collection and analysis, but this is not the only reason for using them. Creative ways of reporting research findings can include:
- Digital images presented off- or on-line in a way that describes findings
- Displays of drawings and products of crafting which carry meaning and tell the story of findings
- Performance-based presentations such as:
- Dance and/or drama performances
- Songs or poetry recitals
- Story telling / sharing
Making research findings impactful, memorable and interesting for audiences. These creative ways of sharing findings can include a wide range of ideas in highly collaborative ways. This means that a range of people can contribute. In particular young people are able to communicate key findings and their views on the topic directly with people they wish to influence.
Sometimes creative methods of reporting findings can take time to prepare and perfect. It is also important that sufficient explanation is given to support visual and performance methods of reporting results. For instance, a commentary to accompany a dance or drama performance or brief written programme notes.
The creative aspect of reporting findings should support the findings rather than over-shadow the findings. In other words, audiences should be clear about the key points you wish to communicate and not just remember the wonderful drawings, images or performances.