Imagine picking out an amazing photo for your next Instagram post, choosing the coolest filter, and writing the world’s wittiest caption, only to never click “post”. Showcasing your work and sharing it with the world is the intellectual version of “pics or it didn’t happen.” It’s important to take advantage of opportunities to showcase your research in order to share your unique perspective and new knowledge with the world, document your intellectual development, and practice the invaluable skill of knowledge synthesis.

Showcasing Research as Sharing Your Perspective

Academic research and creative endeavors are the fruits of your intellectual labor. You have worked tirelessly over weeks, months, or maybe even years on your research paper, creative project, or conference presentation, and you have become an expert on the question you’ve been investigating. No matter what your topic was, your work is a welcome addition to the vast landscape of human knowledge and contributes to expanding its frontiers.

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You might be wondering, “What if my research is a review of primary literature or an analysis of an existing set of data? Does that count as creating new knowledge?” Absolutely!

Whether you’re writing a literature review paper on the latest progress in autonomous vehicle technology or a critical essay on Homer’s Iliad, what’s new is the perspective that you’re bringing. New knowledge does not just encompass inventions and discoveries - new ways of looking at old problems are just as valuable! The world deserves to learn from you and your voice deserves to be heard.

Showcasing Research as Documenting Your Growth

Being able to share your work with those around you is not only the best way to spread your new knowledge, but it can also be an immense confidence booster and a testament to your hard work.

Having something that you can return to and reflect on years down the road—whether it’s a paper in the Research Archive of Rising Scholars, your Symposium of Rising Scholars presentation recording, or a podcast you published on Spotify—is a great way to document your intellectual journey. Every piece of work you’ve showcased constitutes a milestone in what will hopefully be a long and fruitful intellectual career that you’re kickstarting in your youth.

Showcasing Research as Knowledge Synthesis

Preparing weeks’ and months’ worth of work for showcasing is no easy feat. Imagine cramming hundreds of hours of meticulous reflection, calculations, and analysis into an hour-long podcast in four episodes, an 8 minute talk. This requires a tremendous ability for synthesizing knowledge into bite-sized pieces and articulating a coherent narrative of the journey you took to arrive at your conclusions.

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This skill of knowledge distillation is entirely different from but no less important than the skills of research itself. A researcher is only as good as their ability to distill complex ideas and communicate their arguments. As Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman famously argued, the true test of whether you understand something is whether you can explain it to someone who has very little training in your area of expertise.

Think about it this way - if you’re writing an op-ed that summarizes your perspective on a complex issue such as gun control in the US, you want to give your reader sufficient context without overwhelming them with statutes and court cases and leaving them without a clear idea of what your argument is. Similarly, if you are creating an infographic explaining the logic behind Fermi’s paradox, you want to make sure your narrative arc is coherent and informative, but not reductionist.

Synthesizing knowledge is hard! That’s why all budding scholars should take every chance they get to flex that muscle through pursuing showcasing options.

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