Answer each question, one at a time. After some of these steps, you may feel like, "I don't have time for that!?" Yeah, well, that's what clinicians say when they're told they need to know the research! (doh) Implementation requires all of our thoughtful efforts and service to the field! Let's get started.
Was the intervention designed with clients’ and SLPs’ needs in mind? If Yes: next step If No: This blog post isn’t for you. No worries! If you’re still wanting to share your research, you likely need an alternative public engagement strategy, and your audience may not even be SLPs at all. We’ll chat about that another day… See you next time!
Could an SLP take your research, and immediately apply it to practice? Do your findings have the potential to change clinical practice? Currently? If Yes: next step If No: That's ok! It’s probably just not the purpose of your research. At The Informed SLP, we’re finding that about 90% of articles published each month in our field are not clinically applicable. For all sorts of reasons. And when they're not, your audience isn't SLPs. But, thank you for your scholarship, and come back when you have an article that is a "yes" to this question!
During the publication process, did you take steps to ensure that SLPs reading your article could understand it? If Yes: next step If No: OK, check it out: If you ascribe to the notion that SLPs must read research in order to engage in evidence-based practice, then the articles need to be written in language that is relevant to both scientists and SLPs. Next time, have an SLP readyour article and give you feedback before you go through the entire publication process, yeah? Offer lunch; everybody likes lunch! This is a really easy step, but a step that not enough people do.
During the publication process, did you take steps to ensure that SLPs reading your article could replicate it? If Yes: next step If No: Don’t just say “yes” to this without testing it. A lot of our research is impossible to replicate. You know why that's not ideal, from a scientific perspective. But have you also considered how that impacts our SLPs, and clinical practice? We find this every single month at The Informed SLP when we’re reading papers. The most common situation is treatment methods that aren’t well-described. Another really common one is that the materials needed to do the intervention (e.g. worksheets, stories) are not shared within the publication. So make sure you include any supplemental treatment materials either in an appendix or in a link to your lab website or institutional repository. Don’t make SLPs re-create materials you already have, yeah? Sharing is caring. Is your research open-access? If Yes: next step If No: OK, so obviously you don't need to publish #openaccess all the time (it's very expensive for scientists to pay the open access fee). But you DO need to consider the hoops that SLPs have to jump through in order to get their hands on journal articles. So what's the solution? First, almost all journal articles can be shared freely, online, in some version! Check here for the rules of your journal. And note that ResearchGate doesn’t count as “available online”. ResearchGate is for people with *.edu email addresses, and most SLPs don’t have and can’t get access to it because they’re not affiliated with a University (yep). Access to articles is a major implementation barrier, and the people most capable of fixing this are the people who wrote the articles in the first place, because they can share free legal versions of them online. Now, is your research available somewhere? Somewhere SLPs can easily get it? If Yes: next step If No: Do you know how much it costs to purchase your article without a University subscription? Go look it up! You’ll be shocked. If you’ve made it to this point, you’re officially a dissemination ROCKSTAR, and we applaud you! Seriously. You’re going beyond your job duties to make a huge difference for science implementation in our field.
Are you ready to take it to the next step? If Yes: next step If No: Totally understandable. Honestly, if you do everything we’ve described above, this will help a ton. But if you want to take this to the next level consider this—if someone isn’t widely sharing your research for you, how are SLPs supposed to know about it? If you want to ensure that SLPs know about your research, hop back on the “Yes” train with us… Time to get a plan for sharing your research!
First, you need to ask: Who needs to know about my research? Then, you need to ask: How could I most efficiently reach as many of them as possible?
The answer is often social media. But, remember, you’re not sharing with fellow scientists only, you’re sharing with clinicians. So you must target your message to SLPs using their language and addressing their needs. We'll talk more about how to do this in a future blog post. Not sure how to approach this whole social media thing? Ask grad students or doc students in your lab to help! You must know someone who uses social media, and can thus lead the way.
The answer for reach/impact can also be things like conference talks. But it MUST be conference talks with a large audience if your aim is impact (or things like giving CEU lectures with an online provider, such as SpeechPathology.com or MedBridge, which often reach thousands of people.) Or, if you're speaking to a room of only 30 people, at least record your talk so you can post it online somewhere later, and share that.
Is the idea of having to do all this stuff a little frustrating? We understand that there are difficult decisions you need to make here when it comes to prioritizing your time. You must decide between doing what needs done to advance your research (focusing on publications, grants), so that you can keep your job (!) and continue to do more science. Versus doing what needs done in order for your work to be used by the people it was designed for. Hopefully you can find a way to do both!
Sometimes these activities overlap, sometimes not. But we think it's important to prioritize reach and impact, regardless of whether or not it will *count* for tenure and promotion.
Good luck! We're cheering you on, and also here to help! If you’re interested in collaborative opportunities to share your research, please reach out to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sharing research with SLPs is our specialty, and we’d love to help put some “oomph” behind your latest work.