I worked on (and off) an academic article for six years. While working on the article, it catalyzed other pieces. This post takes you through how one academic publication inspired multiple publications.
Part 1: The Academic Article
Doctoral dissertations are often a springboard for a variety of publications. Usually, scholars take a particular aspect of their dissertation and create pieces like journal articles, books, monographs, etc.
In my case, I had been working on turning part of my GIS chapter into a journal article. Going through the process of co-writing and peer-review helped me re-evaluate some of the work I did in my dissertation. We actually found more nuanced and interesting interpretations of my original findings as we wrote and revised the article.
Going through the academic writing and review process helped us communicate our findings with academic peers in the field. Having a space to use highly specific and technical language can be useful, especially in communicating the nuances of our findings.
However, solely relying on academic language can limit overall communication. Typically, folx outside a specific field and non-academic audiences can find many academic articles inaccessible due to aspects like academic jargon and paywalls. I wanted to do more.
Part 2: SAPIENS Essay
As I was preparing my academic article, I got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
After a last-minute application, I was fortunate to be selected as part of the inaugural cohort for the SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship. This fellowship teaches scholars to create accessible audio and written pieces for non-academic audiences.
I struggled with selecting a story to tell during the fellowship’s writing portion.
Not much had been written about Oman for SAPIENS, so I was a bit overwhelmed with choices. Through brainstorming with their staff, I decided to write a piece inspired by both my academic article and my recent fieldwork trip to Oman.
Going through the process of writing a SAPIENS essay, helped me learn from some of the best anthropology public communicators. One of my biggest lessons was learning how to take an insight and turn it into a story.
After months of editing and rewrites, the piece was published in SAPIENS magazine.
However, I still didn’t feel I was done with the piece. The SAPIENS fellowship scratched a personal itch to explore other mediums.
Part 3: YouTube Video
After learning from some of the best communicators at SAPIENS, I took a considerable risk and invested in myself by learning from one of the best educational YouTube teams: The Part-Time YouTuber Accelerator (PTYA)*. One of my biggest lessons from PTYA was learning how to turn a story into an engaging video.
My first few YouTube videos focused on delivering information and learning how to edit videos. Slowly, I built out my team and infused more stories into videos.
When my academic article and SAPIENS essay were published, I created another publication: a video essay.
Creating a video for my channel enabled me to share behind-the-scenes footage from my work in Oman over the past decade. The addition of sound and other visuals aimed to help immerse viewers into the story’s world. The video brought the story to life in a whole new way.
Academic articles are often primary sources for a wide array of other publications. In this instance, I wanted to explore how to transform one scholarly work into multiple diverse publications that could make our findings more accessible to broader audiences.
This journey from academic article to essay to video was not linear. While the academic article was the foundational piece, I didn’t wait for it to be published to work on the other pieces.
I was revising the academic article while writing the SAPIENS essay. The SAPIENS essay actually came out a few weeks before the academic article. We also started working on the video essay as we finalized the SAPIENS essay and academic article.
Yes, it was a bit chaotic towards the end.
However, having other pieces in the pipeline motivated me to push through and finish all the publications – especially the academic article.
This journey illuminated how fundamental writing skills can be across mediums. Seeing how styles and best practices differ across genres, like academic writing, online essays, YouTube videos, and even this blog post, was eye-opening.
I am grateful for the privilege and opportunity to learn from experts in different genres. Access to their feedback helped encourage me to try out multiple genres and mediums. To start exploring, check out this Pinterest board of resources across mediums/genres for science communicators.
Writing and revising my academic article taught me a lot; however, transforming it into other pieces fundamentally changed how I approach archaeology. It solidified my ambition to take both my archaeological work and my other life experiences, and transform those into engaging stories with broader audiences.
So, if you’re considering taking the leap and trying new writing genres or mediums – go for it
…and let me know in the comments so I can cheer you on!