Books as a platform to engage with non-specialist audiences

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The Source
By: Lucy Frisch, Tue Mar 10 2020

TW ABW Howarth

Lucy Frisch

Author: Lucy Frisch

In honor of this year's Academic Book Week* theme, 'The Environment,' we asked our book authors who have published research in related fields to share their thoughts on the future of the academic book as it relates to climate change, how they engage with audiences beyond their scholarly circle to make an impact, and much more.

Read our interview below with Dr. Candice Howarth, author of Palgrave title, Resilience to Climate Change

Why did you choose a book as the medium for publishing your research?

As my research project was coming to an end I had plans in place to publish the findings via academic journals, commentaries, policy briefs and blogs. The opportunity arose to publish the findings in a book which would enable me to provide a synthesis and critical reflection on the research and consider how to reach non-specialist audiences. It was an enjoyable process where I was able to spend time on the overall project and think about the core messages and findings that would be of most use to decision-makers and others working on climate resilience.

What do you think the future of books looks like, especially those on topics related to climate change?

Books provide a useful platform to engage with non-specialist audiences. When it comes to climate change, we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of information deficit models of communicating climate research and expecting this to enhance climate action. Books provide an additional means of reflecting on findings, upskilling writing to target non-academic audiences, and inject research insights beyond the academy.

What impact would you like to see your book have?

It can be hard to track the impact of these types of outputs but as the research focuses on climate resilience and enhancing responses to climate shocks I would like to see the book read by decision makers involved in such processes. The way in which the book was framed was also targeted at students to provide a concise and comprehensive overview of the findings.

How can publishers work with you to make sure your research can make a difference on environmental issues?

Books need to be accessible to ensure they can inform climate decision-making at different scales and geographies. To do so, publishers need to ensure they are financially accessible (e.g. reasonable costs and in paperback and open access formats), they need to work with authors to help articulate at times complex research insights into easily digestible chapters, they need to provide robust peer review processes to maximise constructive feedback, and they need to work with authors and support them in the wider dissemination of their book once published. 

How do you engage with practitioners, policymakers and/or the general public to make a difference through your research?

Most of my work involves stakeholder engagement through co-production processes. This ensures that research is designed to align closely with end user needs and hence better inform climate action. I do this through organising events, co-authoring commentaries, reports and papers, sitting on commissions and stakeholder interest groups, contributing to consultation responses.

Learn more about publishing a book at Springer Nature

About Dr. Candice Howarth

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Dr Candice Howarth is a Policy Fellow at the LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, leading activities on the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN). Prior to this she was a Senior Lecturer in sustainability and climate change at the University of Surrey. She is leading research and has published extensively on how co-production of knowledge and science communication can be used to better inform climate resilience and decision-making. She is currently leading projects on climate emergency declarations in London, local climate adaptation and exploring new local civil politics on climate change. She chairs the Royal Geographical Society Climate Change Group and the Royal Meteorological Society Science Engagement Group, she sits on the London Heat Risk Group and the Croydon Climate Crisis Commission.  Candice has an interdisciplinary background in climate policy and pro-environmental behaviour with degrees in meteorology (BSc), climate change (MSc) and a PhD in climate change and pro-environmental behaviour.

*Academic Book Week is a celebration of the diversity, variety and influence of academic books throughout history run by the Booksellers Association, returning for a fifth year from 9-13 March 2020. The theme for 2020 focuses on the environment, a topic which strongly aligns with Springer Nature's commitment to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We aim to share the discoveries that address the world’s challenges of sustainable development, which is more easily achievable through publishing open research.

Lucy Frisch

Author: Lucy Frisch

Lucy Frisch is a Senior Marketing Manager on the Outreach and Open Research team, based in the New York office. She has a passion for storytelling and works to humanize the research published across Springer Nature with a focus on the researcher experience.