Research through the lens

Lengthy jargon filled reports mean nothing to anyone outside the small academic sphere. A group of academics is working to overcome this. How? By conducting and presenting their research in video format. All the principles of academic rigour are maintained, but the end product can be accessed at the click of a mouse and understood easily because of its clear, multi-dimensional format. 

Aalto School of Economics and Rouen Business School

It is not just what is researched that is important in management education for the future, but also how and where that research is disseminated. Text and the written word tend to dominate academic teaching and research methods, often with negative effects. For instance, showing an academic article to your parents would not help them understand what you are doing in your research. Showing them research on film, however, allows them to get inside your work, talk about it, and relate to it in a completely different way. Videography, then, is an exciting and effective method for disseminating research findings to the wider world beyond academia. At Inside Videography, a blog which follows the developments of the medium in the academic field, we are harnessing it to great effect.

Videography is both a particular research method – it can be used for conducting interviews and for gathering visual references – and a final research output – a coherent report on, for example, sustainability can be presented as a short film and then circulated worldwide in a matter of seconds. It is a strong method for exploring audiovisual, contextual, embodied and spatial phenomena and it is especially helpful when looking at what people do and how they do it. In contrast with typical research, which is dominated by written/textual approaches, it can present knowledge and ideas in an intriguing way, and it can be used to explore areas – such as the Dubstep industry – that are not readily compatible with traditional written research methods. It makes research relevant to real life by contextualizing it rather than presenting it as a series of hypothetical scenarios.

Furthermore, the main objective of academic research is to have an impact on society and its development. Paradoxically though, an academic article is typically viewed only by a handful of people (i.e. the academics), whereas in a few weeks an academic video posted on the web can reach several thousands of viewers. For example, Inside Videography’s latest film has had 4500 views in Vimeo in just a matter of months.

At Inside Videography, we strongly feel that videography is a vital tool in distributing academic research to wider audiences beyond the confines of the educational establishment to the fields to which it refers. It is the beginning of open access between academia and practice where, for example, business leaders have easy access to research carried out by business academics from which they can learn and develop their own practices.

We use video to share insights in the classroom and we also work with students to make their own research projects on video. Producing videos requires new skills such as filming and editing, as well as resource investment from the universities. While older academics have little experience in the medium of film, the younger generation of researchers does (in 2011, one Masters student became the first to graduate with videography as the primary product of his research); hence the bridge between academia and youth culture can be solidly built.

Videography can be used in academia of any kind, but not every video qualifies as videography. Among requirements are academic rigor and principles common to all academic research such as a foundation in prior research (and this should be acknowledged), and the clear stating of a question, method, data and conclusions. Visit Inside Videography for more information on how you can make better academic films.

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