Well-intentioned and smart scientists devote their careers to generating new knowledge they hope will benefit the health and well-being of the population, and ultimately, save lives. The discouraging reality is that only a small fraction (14%) of original research findings are published in scientific journals, and those findings take an average of 17 years to integrate into health care practice and policy.
Scientists are growing impatient with the gap that currently exists between moving research into practice, and have begun to question whether traditional journals are the best way to accomplish this goal, especially in an era of rapid information dissemination through online and social media outlets. Long publication processes can render findings obsolete before they are even known, the narrow readership of journals consists mostly of like-minded scientists and the static, one-way medium publication format prevents constructive critique and debate that is essential for good science.
What can be done to best reach appropriate and wider audiences with research findings in a timely manner? The good news is that, in addition to journals reinventing themselves, there are emerging alternatives. First, the digital communication revolution provides extraordinary opportunities to reach large diverse audiences through dynamic formats such as social media, websites, blogs and online platforms like Tumblr and YouTube.
In addition, the emerging new scientific disciplines of knowledge translation and implementation science focus on how to move science out of the lab and into the world. Finally, where advocacy has historically been forbidden among scientists, many are mobilizing to bring pressure for research to be more transparent and widely accessible. As a research community, it is our responsibility to leverage these three trends – digital communication, the field of implementation science, and advocacy -- to shrink the gap between research and practice and make our research matter. #Reachingwideraudiences.