Feedback for the RSP: A Request for Testimonials

Over the past two-and-a-half years, the RSP Team have become increasingly aware that the podcasts and other resources that we disseminate are being used in a variety of interesting, innovative and unexpected ways in the teaching of Religious Studies, both by ‘students’ and their ‘teachers’, and at all levels of education.

While we are aware – and delighted – that this is happening, we have little solid information on how this is actually playing out. In order to continue to improve and develop the service we provide, and partly out of sheer curiosity, we are seeking your feedback.

If you have made use of the RSP in your teaching, or have been a student on a course where the RSP has made an appearance (however small), we would be very grateful if you could take a few minutes to respond to five short questions. If you fall into both categories, then by all means answer both sets of questions. Please fill your answers in on the contact forms at the links below, or send an email to

Chris and Jack are also hoping to put together a short article for the BASR Bulletin which will focus upon how the RSP can be/has been utilized in teaching. We would like to use the feedback from these questions in that article, and potentially in other publicity materials, so please indicate your willingness (or otherwise) to have your comments used in this way, and if you wish to remain anonymous.

Many thanks for your time and continued support. Any help with passing this appeal on to others who may have something to say would be greatly appreciated.

Yours aye,

Your friends at the RSP.

New Posters, and Looking to the Future

With a new academic year upon us (or already started in some regions), conference season fast approaching, and a new round of Religious Studies Project podcasts coming your way, we thought it was time to update our publicity material. Louise has done a sterling job on these posters and flyers, and I hope that you will all agree that it makes us look very professional.

Whether you are a student, member of academic staff, or participate in any community that you think might be interested, we would be very grateful if you could circulate these images, and maybe even put one up in your department and/or bring some with you to leave at conferences. We are already incredibly indebted to the support of all of our listeners and viewers – we could not do this without you – and we hope that you will not mind being prevailed upon once more. A4 and A5 pdfs of the poster/flyer can be accessed at these links.

As a final point, one of the main reasons that the podcast was started was to provide an easy access point to complex topics for undergraduate students. However, as we all know, sometimes these resources need to be flagged up so that students know that they exist. We were wondering if any of you are involved in teaching, TAing, tutoring etc on courses, or know those who put together course materials, and might be able to get in touch with us about the possibility of including some of our material as ‘additional’ or ‘suggested’ readings? You can reach us via the links on the ‘Contact‘ page. Thanks!

“Getting out there” with your research

“Getting out there” with your research

Dr Charlotte Mathieson is an Associate Fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick, and also works as an Early Career Researcher Project Office in the Wolfson Research Exchange. She blogs about her research and edits Researcher Life: the Early Career Researcher Experience, where this post first appeared.

This post offers tips and advice for disseminating your research to a wider audience, beyond traditional academic mediums such as journals. This is based entirely on my own recent experience; as a Dickens scholar, the bicentenary celebrations brought about a number of opportunities and activities to talk about my research. This began with an invitation to contribute to the University’s Celebrating Dickens project, for which I recorded two podcasts and wrote a guest blog; in turn, the University’s Knowledge Centre published two related features on my work, I had a guest blog posted on another website, and a radio appearance to talk about Dickens’s local connections.

A lot of this was down to luck: it was a happy coincidence that Dickens’s 200th birthday fell not long after I’ve finished my PhD, when I had the time and incentive to focus on activities that will help to raise my profile. But along the way I have been picking up a few tips for how to get, and make the most of, opportunities to “get out there” with your research:

  1. Think ahead, and focus on areas of your research that have the future potential to attract wider attention. Whilst not everyone can have a handy bicentenary (or similar) to get involved in, this hasn’t all been luck on my part: my PhD was on a number of nineteenth-century authors but I made a strategic decision last year to focus on Dickens for a while as I knew the bicentenary was approaching. See what’s coming up in your field.
  2. Move out of your comfort zone; the prospect of recording or talking on the radio isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but challenging yourself is the only way to extend your skills. Grab every opportunity regardless of whether you feel confident or capable; with practice, you’ll feel both.
  3. Find out what’s out there: are there any blogs or websites at your University or in your field that you could contribute to as a guest blogger or article? At Warwick, for example, we have the Knowledge Centre. Get to know the venues available and how you might use them.
  4. Put yourself forward; if you see an opportunity that you might be relevant for, send a speculative enquiry even if you’re not sure. If you don’t ask you don’t get, and even if you’re not quite right for one opportunity it might be that you’re remembered for something else in the future.
  5. Your comms or press office are very useful people to be in touch with: they might be able to offer help in getting your work into the media, or have training opportunities around public engagement. Get in touch and see if you can find out more; once they know your specialism you can become a useful go-to person for any relevant press enquiries.
  6. Raise your own profile: get on Twitter and get a blog – the combination of these is an effective way to increase your own publicity. Having a blog means you can publish all your activity in one place, and Twitter is an invaluable way of getting a wider following for your work.
  7. Use your eportfolio or webpage: create a “latest news” section on your front page to pull together all your activity, and keep it updated regularly.
  8. Use your initiative: if there’s nothing relevant to contribute to, why not start your own project? Inspired by the Dickens interest but aware that it might soon die down, I’m already thinking of other ways in which I could create wider engagement opportunities out of my work. Take a look at other projects at your university/ in your field to get inspiration, or see if your university has dedicated Impact support.

Whilst establishing wider engagement activities might initially seem daunting to PhD/early career researchers, once you get going it becomes easier to sustain and feel more confident about seeking other opportunities. Impact is an important issue in academia right now with the upcoming REF and is likely to only continue increasing in importance, so it’s worth getting started early in your career on projects that have an impact beyond the sphere of academia.

A Plea from the Religious Studies Project: Publicity

We decided when we launched the Religious Studies Project that we wanted to have a reasonable amount of content available on the site before we started a major publicity push. Now that we have published our fifth podcast – David’s interview with Graham Harvey – we are ready to start publicity in earnest. Over the coming days the team shall be emailing their contacts and academic departments (mostly in the UK) to let them know about the Project. However, the success of this publicity drive will largely be down to help from those who have already started using the site. To that end, please do keep up the excellent work you have been doing so far with inviting people to view the site, and to check us out on iTunes, Twitter and Facebook.

In addition, we have also produced an A4 poster and A5 flyer which you can print off and display in your academic department, school, academic conferences, religious institution or wherever. The jpeg of the poster is below, and pdfs of the poster and flyer can be accessed via these links.

Your help with this is greatly appreciated!