How researchers get heard
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What’s Your POV?

We all have opinions — expressions of how we perceive the world. These we can be rather free with, especially at conferences around 5p.

Very few of us, by contrast, clearly articulate our points of view. The point of view — it says it right in the name — isn’t your opinion. It’s your acknowledged vantage point in forming and expressing that opinion. Your standpoint.

And with grounding, the POV also implies angle of sight — your way of considering things that gives your opinions consistency. Proto-positioning, for the marketers and communicators on the list.

This gap — the gap between a) what we say and b) where we come from when we say it and why we’re saying it in the first place— theoretically gives researchers a huge head-start over much of the rest of the world in credibility, trust and building authority. After all, they’re…researchers. Their perspectives are based in evidence. They’re constitutionally incapable of being less than committed to the truth. (Sorry, getting carried away.)

Still, the public’s (highly imperfect) understanding of the codes of science and research gives researchers the foundation for a very trustworthy POV. It’s a big reason why scientists still do well in Pew Research Center polling about groups the public trusts.

It’s also why that trust level erodes (according to Pew) when scientists aren’t up front about their funding. The public, rightly, equates funding with POV. So researchers can quickly fritter away their POV advantage for thought leadership content…unless they’re also clear about your intentions in contributing your opinion.

Remember, I said that POV implies you have an angle. That angle isn’t just that you bring research to bear on important questions. It also includes how you do that and (most importantly) to what end.

This often comes down to genre and persona. Think of POV as the set of formatting requirements for your submission to a journal. Commentaries are very different animals from articles. Getting the formatting correct and consistent sets up your audience’s expectations; getting it incorrect confounds them. You don’t start a commentary, switch into article mode, then over to research brief, then back to commentary. You pick one and stick to it. And you signal rather clearly at the beginning of your content which POV you’re assuming.

This week I’m going to examine some examples of POV signaling in thought leadership content from researchers and others — the stance, as it where, of where they’re coming from and why they’re delivering this perspective that is so critical to engendering trust.

At the end of it, my objective (as a long-time research communicator) is to make you more conscious of the POV you’re choosing as a researcher (and for your research-driven organization, should you be leading one) and why one POV might be better than another for your goals.

(In case you missed it: that’s my POV.)