Research Outputs

‘Output’ is a term most commonly used in computing – the transfer of information from internal storage to an external medium. Within the research community it is more often used to describe something that is published, like a book or research paper.

However, the ‘young generation of creators’ (Holden, 2015) may think of it more as anything a practitioner produces for consumption by an audience. Grayson Perry may make a TV or radio programme, a book, a pot, an exhibition, a lecture, a film, a newspaper article or a social media post. We could consider all of them his outputs.

Research has the power to change the world and the attitudes of the people in it, but it must enter the public consciousness to do so. The ways we consume information and ‘things’ has changed dramatically in the past few decades, but the form research takes is only just starting to synchronise. The research community can learn a lot from the cultural landscape when it comes to the outputs it makes and the activities it engages in. Looking out at this landscape, the variety of outputs across sectors is there for us all to see.

“A precondition for expanding genuine public engagement is the provision of standards equivalent to the best society has to offer”

Frank Furedi

In the context of research communication, we can think of an output as being made up of two main things; information based on research, and the vehicle (or tool) used to communicate it to audiences; INFO + VEHICLE = OUTPUT.

The following vehicles were recorded by looking at what outputs currently exist through primary observations of the ‘cultural landscape’ in Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Canada and the UK.

Although attentions were primarily focused on the art world, visual culture, manufacturing and knowledge economies, a vehicle/tool can be anything and come from anywhere.

Audiences and participants, consciously or unconsciously, use outputs as a marker to judge quality, accessibility, relevance and credibility. There is a good chance that outputs may be the only thing audiences will come in to contact with and will determine if they buy-in to the ideas at large, want to be associated with them, or care about them at all. Those in the manufacturing economy understand this can be a massive block to engagement and sales, which is reflected in their large marketing budgets.

In his TV series (The Artistic Garden, 2013), which is really a video essay and love letter to gardening, Monty Don alludes to an interplay between the outputs of Claude Monet (his garden at Giverny and the Water Lilies series), and suggests that as a body of work they are more than the sum of their parts.

“The paintings increase our artistic appreciation of the garden, and visiting the garden enables us to appreciate and understand the paintings all the more.”

Monty Don

This indicates there is value to be added, not only by the variety of outputs, but in the relationship between them. This shows you can design and make outputs for specific audiences, but also an acknowledgement they are organic in the sense that they will grow or die based on the way people perceive them. A successful output should make the viewer think there are more possibilities in the world than they did before they saw it.

Claude Monet at Giverny.
Monet in his garden at Giverny

Over time artists have seen it necessary to develop/build on traditions in order to more accurately and conceptually represent their voice. The manufacturing economy has also actively diversified the ways in which it communicates with audiences, for profits. These sectors have spent decades creating and exploring avenues with which to communicate efficiently and effectively. This repository need not just be a library of case studies, but also a list of potential partners, collaborators, clients and facilitators.