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Q: What is SciPod?

A: A SciPod is a 10-minute audiobook covering scientific research in a layman-friendly language. This is a form of science communication, or SciComm as it is often known. A SciPod could be summarised as a ‘post print’ form of communication, or a more in-depth and accessible plain language summary produced into the modern communication format of an audiobook.

Listen to an example: www.scipod.global/identifying-ways-to-make-the-best-program-even-better

Q: Why do I need a SciPod?

A: Our mission is to connect science and society, which in turn creates innovation. We think it’s vital to support traditional scholarly publishing and transform science into something enjoyable, understandable and impactful that everyone has a chance to be involved with.

A large number of academics are actively being encouraged by their institute or funding agency to engage and showcase their work beyond their own niche communities and traditional publishing channels, especially when it comes to taxpayer-funded research. We can help!

Q: Why is SciComm important?

A: As you probably already know, academics are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibility to communicate more broadly, especially to the public.

Moreover, given the significant change in the way information is disseminated and accessed, people want more from researchers, academic institutions, and industry than ever before. As a result, the topic of science communication is a growing area of interest.

It is now widely accepted that broader science communication is a fundamental aspect of a scientist’s career. While many do recognise this, it can be a challenge to do it effectively.

Q: Why an audiobook? I’m encouraged to publish in text by my peers.

A: A very interesting recent survey suggested that 75% of people would rather listen to an audiobook than read text (even with imagery), and 50% would choose to listen over watching a video. In fact, a large proportion of those who watch videos on YouTube are actually listening to the audio whilst multitasking.

With an estimated 285 million visually impaired people, and 700 million dyslexic people, we should also not underestimate the value that an audio service offers to a community who are often overlooked in academic publishing.

We have no intention of trying to replace text communication. We are aiming to compliment and support it.

Q: So a SciPod is an audiobook, what’s the difference between an audiobook and podcast?

A: A podcast is always episodic and are usually conversational, in the form of an interview.

Audiobooks are a very specific singular narration of pre-existing text.

The somewhat overlap, but both serve as a great communication tool. However the production efforts and delivery differ. A simple comparison would be listening to a radio show (podcast) vs listening to a book on Audible (audiobook).

Q: Ok, so how does SciPod work?

A: In short, we do the majority of the work. SciPod is an end-to-end production and dissemination service supporting time-poor researchers in communicating their work and reaching a much broader and more diverse audience.

Each SciPod is based on a single research paper, and our team works to present the research in the most accessible, understandable and enjoyable way. Listeners with varying levels of expertise and knowledge will be able to understand the significance and potential impact of the research.

We have a simple 4-step production process that will take a maximum of 1 hour of your time over a period of 2–4 weeks.

Q: What is your simple 4-step production process?

A: Step 1 – Upload your paper on our online ordering system

Step 2 – SciPod script produced
Our writing and editing team will produce the first plain language summary script within 7 days. Our standard-length script is approximately 1200 words. Once produced, this is sent back to you for review and approval. We do not publish anything without your 100% approval.

Step 3 – We go to the recording studio
The script is passed to our professional voice artists who elegantly and clearly read your script and produce the first audio draft. The draft is then sent to you to listen and approve before the final stages of completion.

Step 4 – Your SciPod is published
We create an eye-catching cover design for your audiobook, and produce a unique webpage within our audio library for you. We then disseminate to our direct audience and through our audio social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, iTunes and Spotify, to name a few.

It’s as simple as that. On average the process should take no longer than 1 hour of your time over a period of 2–4 weeks.

Q: Will I or my institute media department get a chance to review and approve before publishing?

A: Absolutely! We want to produce, publish and disseminate the SciPod for you, but we are working for you, and this is your research. The drafts of the script, audio, and cover art are all sent to you to review and comment on. Nothing is published without your 100% approval.

Q: Where will you publish my SciPod?

A: We will publish and archive your SciPod in our digital library. You will receive a dedicated audio webpage for ease of access and sharing your SciPod. We publish all material in an open and barrier-free format under a creative commons licence. We have no pay walls or subscribe walls to view, download or share any of our material.

Q: Where will you promote my SciPod?

A: Our dissemination team promotes each SciPod to our direct audience of 26,000 listeners (and growing). As well as promoting to our direct audience and through our social media channels, we publish through all major audio sites including iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Breaker, Pocket Cast, Radio Public, and Overcast.

Q: Can I or my institute use the SciPod for our own communication efforts?

A: Yes, we encourage all groups we work with to extend the impact of each SciPod by personally utilising it. You will have unlimited and unrestricted use of each SciPod. We will provide you with an Mp3 file and also create a dedicated audio library page for each SciPod so that you can directly link and share.

For example, post it directly on your University’s website or newsletter, add a link to it in your CV as a summary of your recent work, add it to your conference poster with a QR link, or shout about it on social media – the choice is yours.

Q: What licence covers my SciPod?

A: We publish all material in an open and barrier-free format under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. We have no pay walls or subscribe walls to view, download or share any of our material.

Q: What type of research do you accept?

A: We have a large team of PhD-level science writers who can understand and write about any subject. No subject is too complex to transform into a SciPod.

Q: Can I choose the focus of the SciPod?

A: Absolutely, we want this to be of value to you. As we are an extension of scholarly communication and not a peer-review publication, we will only discuss projects and results that have already undergone peer review.

In other words, we write our SciPod articles using research articles or reviews that have already been published in reputable peer-reviewed journals.

Q: Will there be any copyright issues with the original publisher?

A: No, we are not re-publishing or re-working the same material. We are producing new content based on the original paper. This is similar to how a press release would work, and our aim is to increase the visibility of your original paper as well as make your research widely accessible.

Q How will SciPod affect impact?

A: Science communication and outreach has been shown to significantly improve the Altmetric scores and visibility of academic papers. SciPod has been proven to improve the visibility and approachability of authors and institutes. See a case study of a recent group we worked with.

Q: This all sounds good, but what is the cost?

A: As you can understand, employing a team of professional writers, editors, voice artists, graphic designers, website developers, and marketers, comes at a cost.

We have listened to researchers, institute finance departments and communications departments. We have done our utmost to deliver SciPod at a very reasonable cost of $600 USD (£480 GBP, €550 EUR) – this is the total tax-free cost that covers the full production, publishing, and dissemination of a SciPod.

Q: Is this an eligible expense for my grant?

A: Yes. If your grant has an outreach or communication component, then a SciPod is an eligible expense. If we can help with any grant administration then just let us know. Likewise, if you want to include SciPod in your future grant applications, just let us know what information you require.

Q: Is this an allowable expense for academic publishing?

A: Yes. A large number of academics are actively being encouraged by their institute or funding agency to engage and showcase their work beyond their own niche communities and traditional publishing channels, especially when it comes to taxpayer-funded research.

Q: What payments do you accept?

A: All payments are welcome. Either choose to pay with a credit card or invoice on our order screen. All major credit cards are accepted and processed securely by Stripe. If you request an invoice then we can arrange a PO or wire transfer. 

Q: This all sounds good. How do I start?

A: We have gone fully digital with our ordering system, so when you have 2 minutes to spare and would like to start the process, please enter your details on our online ordering form. This will then go directly to our editing team who will get started straight away. www.scipod.global/order-researcher

Increase the impact of your research

• Good science communication helps people make informed decisions and motivates them to take appropriate and affirmative action.

• Good science communication encourages everyday people to be scientifically literate so that they can analyse the integrity and legitimacy of information.

• Good science communication encourages people into STEM-related fields of study and employment.

• Good public science communication fosters a community around research that includes both members of the public, policymakers and scientists.

• In a recent survey, 75% of people suggested they would prefer to listen to an interesting story than read it.

Step 1

Upload your science paper

Step 2

SciPod script written

Step 3

Voice audio recorded

Step 4

SciPod published