This format for faculty to share their research is part of the Fox School’s efforts to better promote their research findings.
Higher education functions to serve two main purposes: teaching and providing a hub for research. Both equally valuable, research takes significant time and resources. Yet many research findings with potentially far-reaching impacts remain unknown outside of the academic sphere.
For this reason, on Sept. 28, the Fox School held a 3-Minute Research (3MR) competition for faculty. Over 100 members of the Fox School community attended to watch nine faculty present their research in three minutes or less. In what was widely regarded as a strong showing by all competitors, Crystal Reeck, professor of marketing and associate director of the Center for Applied Research in Decision Making, was selected both as the winner by the judges and for the “People’s Choice” award by the audience.
One of the event’s goals was to make Fox research accessible to larger audiences.
“It is important that we get as much value from the research that we have,” says Ron Anderson, dean of the Fox School and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. “Now, more than ever, we must turn our research into something that the wider business world can understand and value.”
Several barriers can prevent research findings from reaching the wider community. For many, the dense vocabulary used in research papers makes them difficult to understand. If the jargon is not a deterrent, then the length–often 50 to 100 pages–could be.
The result is often an academic world where researchers stick closely to their own disciplines and industry members miss out on important knowledge.
“Most research is very siloed,” says Sunil Wattal, associate dean of research. “Many researchers don’t often work outside their area.”
Distilling years of research into three minutes can be a challenge for researchers. However, it produces presentations that are more likely to have an impact. The three-minute time cap offers important benefits, such as simplified language, a length suited to the audience’s attention span and greater emphasis on storytelling and narrative.
Furthermore, this structure allows audience members to learn about a broader range of research than a typical presentation, where a single researcher would be allotted over an hour of time.
“You can listen to nine people in forty-five minutes,” says Wattal. “If I want to see, broadly, what people outside my area are doing, it is very suitable.”
While there can only be one winner, for many the largest takeaway was the high quality of research across the entire event.
“My single biggest takeaway is literally the amount of interesting research that we have here,” says Anderson. “I thought, ‘Wow, our faculty are really motivated and passionate about the research they do.’ I thought everyone was a winner.”
Reeck says that her favorite part of the competition was getting to hear about her colleagues’ work. “The stuff they are pursuing is absolutely fascinating. That was really inspiring.”
Reeck’s research took a new angle on the familiar concept of “nudging,” which occurs when companies structure choices to consumers in a certain way to encourage (or ‘nudge’) them toward a particular choice.
“There have been many studies showing that nudges are effective,” says Reeck. “Ours is the first to demonstrate that they are effective for specific groups of people.”
In this case, Reeck’s study finds that nudges were more impactful with consumers of lower socioeconomic status (SES). These findings have important implications for how companies can encourage this group of people to make choices that benefit themselves.
Reeck’s publication, “Do Nudges Reduce Disparities? Choice Architecture Compensates for Low Consumer Knowledge,” has seen great success. Since its publication in the Journal of Marketing, the website Altmetric, which tracks the impact of research articles across the web, found that the article is in the top 5% of attention received among all articles evaluated.
“I was quite flummoxed to win. As I said, it was a really impressive set of research,” says Reeck. “It really touched me that our students, our staff and our faculty found the work interesting.”
While the event was focused on research, it was also a teaching moment. The audience was largely composed of students at varying stages of their education, from undergraduate and graduate students to PhD candidates.
“I would recommend other students attend this event,” says Anastasiia Agolli, a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of Management. “It is such a simple, engaging format for learning the research that the faculty in our school is doing.”
All students who pursue research will ultimately have to develop the skills needed to present their findings in similar formats. For example, PhD students must give three-minute presentations in the PhD student competition and the Young Scholars Forum (which grants funding for their research projects). At the 3MR event, students had the chance to learn this often-overlooked skill by observing the Fox faculty.
“I thought it was very inspiring,” continues Agolli. “Learning how to do public speaking, how to present your research, how to make research accessible to the audiences who don’t know much about it.”
In addition to Reeck, the panel of presenters included Hyun Jong Park, Samuel Rosen, Solon Moreira, Aleksi Aaltonen, Samuel Hodge, Lindsey Lee, Bradley Baker and Guangwen Kong. Lee, a tourism and hospitality management professor, finished second for her research on staff turnover in the hospitality industry.
The widespread sentiment of success leaves the Fox administration optimistic that this will not be the last 3MR competition.
“It was such a success,” says Anderson. “I know that we are going to do it again.”