Why should academics podcast?

Why should academics podcast?

By now the popularity of podcasts is well established. With 465 million annual listeners (forecasted to grow to 505 million by 2024), the power of podcasting cannot be understated.  

We know that such figures can feel like a daunting landscape to walk into. Why then should you as an academic start podcasting?  

These are our top 5 reasons:

1. Public engagement and impact

Podcasting drives public engagement and allows your research to have meaningful impact with new audiences.

Michael J. Douma argues that:

A scholar who writes articles in recognizable journals, even lower ranked ones, should expect that each article will be read about 100 times. If you are lucky and good, it might be read 1,000 times. In the top, say 50 history journals, there are probably no articles that after 10 years have not been read at least a few dozen times

Dr. Michael J. Douma, “How many ‘reads’ does a typical academic article get”, January 2021.

Compare this to academic podcasts which, according to Dr Ian M. Cook who interviewed 101 scholars who podcast for his book Scholarly Podcasting: Why, What, How?, average 2-700 listens per episode you can see the immediate benefits.

However, this is not just a numbers game. An academic paper is often only read by other academics within your specialism. But the accessibility of podcasting means your voice can reach not only the wider academic community, allowing for an interdisciplinary approach, but also the public in a way traditional research outlets do not.  

This new expanded audience means your research is more likely to reach policymakers and key stakeholders increasing the chance of your research invoking genuine change. For example we have had NGOs reach out to our guests to set up webinars using their research and key stakeholders request further information to influence their day-to-day practice.

Another benefit of is its real-time impact. While written content may take months or years to publish and disseminate, podcasting allows for immediate feedback from your community, and real time engagement with current issues. Podcasting allows you to respond quickly to current affairs and trending research discoveries. 

2. Networking

Podcasting expands your network and creates new connections. Through interviewing guests or publishing solo content, podcasting connects you to new academics outside your established network. This allows for more dynamic and insightful conversation on your area of research and crucially allows you to develop an interdisciplinary approach to public discourse.

This aspect has a snowballing effect. While these connections may take a while to start, the cumulative effect means the more you podcast the more exponentially your research network will grow. 

This is particularly important for Early Career Researchers as a way of increasing your visibility and making your voice more authoritative. Putting yourself at the forefront, responding to developing news and being actively engaged in current conversations around your research will help you become the go-to expert in your field.

It is also a fantastic excuse to reach out to that researcher you have always wanted to talk to but never had the chance!

3. Research

Rather than being exclusively about research dissemination and engagement, more and more researchers are turning to podcasting as a research method to co-produce content with their participants.

For example, MigYouth from the University of Glasgow are planning a collaborative podcast project with young migrant Europeans as one of their co-produced outputs in 2024. Other great examples are Brexit Brits Abroad and Who do we think we are? from Sociologist Professor Michela Benson.

Podcasting also creates unforeseen opportunities for further research in fields you had not previously thought about.   

A great example of this is The Rights Track podcast, where human rights expert Todd Landman gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing the world today and aims to get our thinking about human rights on the right track. Through Todd’s podcast, he was contacted by Luca Di Gennaro Splendore, a statistician at the University of Malta and an avid listener. The pair then went onto publish a paper together which combined their expertise. This is a clear demonstration of how podcasting can expand your research unforeseen and exciting ways.  

Furthermore, Todd’s podcast was so successful he went onto publish a book – The Rights Track; Sound Evidence on Human Rights and Modern Slavery – in collaboration with Research Podcasts’ Managing Director Chris Garrington detailing the insights from seven series of interviewing human rights experts and why podcasting was the best medium to explore this. You can hear more about his experiences as an academic podcast in the video below.

Professor Todd Landman discusses his experiences as an academic podcaster as the host of The Rights Track

4. Up-skill

Podcasting presents a unique opportunity to up-skill and push your personal and professional development.

Research Podcast producer and trainer, Dr Ian M. Cook, argues that: 

“Scholarly podcasting can be sensemaking through conversation; it can push scholars to change their preferred register of explanation and pull podcasters into reading and listening about topics, themes, and ideas that they would not usually, forging connections between seemingly unrelated ideas and improving their thinking and scholarship”. 

Dr Ian M. Cook, Scholarly Podcasting: Why, What, How? (2023) p. 115

Whatever your research area, podcasting pushes you to expand your verbal clarity, conversational dexterity and presentation skills. These are skills which expand your professional competency and better your personal growth.

5. Enjoyment 

Lastly, for entirely selfish reasons podcasting is fun! It gives you the opportunity to discuss your passion, with others that share your enthusiasm in an environment that you control. It combines your love for research, with the human connection you can only achieve through quality, intimate conversation.  

Podcasting is a fantastic way to sustain your enthusiasm for your subject and combat academic solitude by connecting you to an engaging community.  

Todd Landman sums up the benefits of podcasting for academic perfectly, arguing that 

It’s tremendous opportunity for anybody to get the word out, to connect with people, to build networks and to continue to develop their own work in area that they might be interested in. 

Professor Todd Landman, Professor of Political Science in the School of Politics and International Relations at Nottingham University and host of The Rights Track podcast

These are our top five reasons why academics should be podcasting.

Now you’re convinced podcasting is for you, you might be concerned about where to start.

This is where Research Podcasts come in.  

Research Podcasts offer podcast consultancy, production and training for researchers and academics. Check out our various training workshops including an introduction to podcasting workshophow to launch your podcast and our more advanced courses on podcast presentingpodcast editing, and how to build a podcast brand.

Don’t be left behind, contact our Director of Training, Krissie Brighty-Glover, for more information at Krissie@researchpodcasts.co.uk.

Freya Peake, Research and Administration Assistant at Research Podcasts