Going digital brings great opportunities, but also some unique challenges.
Going digital can mean people can engage at their convenience. People can engage from anywhere in the world, and there are things you can do in the digital world that you could never do in the physical.
On the other hand, the digital world can be very siloed. You may struggle to reach audiences against the competition, and it can be hard to reach people who are not naturally drawn to your subject matter.
Oxford Sparks is the University's digital engagement platform for sciences and produces high quality media such as podcasts and videos, as well as managing social media channels. They also offer biopics of scientists and latest news stories.
Oxford Sparks makes two video formats – short form for social media (under 2 mins 20 s) and longer form (5-10 mins) micro-documentaries. They are all aimed at curious spectators, individuals who do not consider themselves 'science fans', and do not actively seek out science content, but will enjoy engaging with it if presented in an appealing way. They may lack confidence in finding scientific content they can trust, being wary of misinformation. We aim to create transparent, open, credible, and engaging content that Curious Spectators can relate to, providing a positive engagement experience.
Proposals for videos are welcome from University of Oxford researchers at any career stage, working on scientific or science-related research from any Division. Contact Oxford Sparks for more information.
Submit an expression of interest using this form.
Proposals will be reviewed each month, with one micro-documentary chosen per month.
The Jenner Institute has an online lab tour, allowing people from round the world a chance to explore and interact.
The annual I’m a Scientist offers you a chance to engage young people across the country. Recently Ben Futcher from Eric O’ Neill’s group in Oncology was voted the young people’s favourite and won a cash prize. Ben commented on his experience:
“I hope we were able to highlight that no matter your background, whether maths is not your strongest subject, or you just don’t know what you want to do after finishing school that cancer research and science more broadly is a valid and attainable career path if you are motivated and open to learning new and exciting things” – Read Ben’s full statement.
The online world offers the chance to allow people to interact through games and even take part in your research through citizen science. A recent example from Medical Sciences, Bash the Bug, led to a peer reviewed publication.
There are lots of examples of people using video to allow audiences to watch at their convenience. Videos allow people to get the experience even when they were not able to make the event itself.
Videos can be hosted on a common server such as YouTube and embedded into your website. Check out this TEDx Talk or meet the Team behind the COVID vaccine.
Audio and written
If you do not fancy appearing on camera, blogs and podcasts can be an excellent alternative. The University has a podcast channel to help you reach a wider audience.
You only need a good microphone, but you can borrow this. There is training available. You don’t have to make your own podcast, especially if you’re not keen to commit to a series. There are podcasters out there already, and they may be looking for content, so you may be able to get an invite to feature as a guest.
If you want to set the record straight, but do not want to commit to more regular output, try The Conversation. Pitch your article to them and professional journalists will help you write it and get it to a worldwide audience.