As of September 1, 2012, the University Transportation Center for Mobility (UTCM) is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived UTCM website remains available here.

Mobility Colloquium

Tim Lomax and Johanna Zmud

Monday, January 28, 2008

"Communicating the Value of Your Research: How to Convince Your Mom That You Contribute to Society"

Timothy J. Lomax, Ph.D.

Research Engineer
Mobility Analysis Program
Texas Transportation Institute
Brief bio

Johanna Zmud, Ph.D.

President, NuStats
Brief bio [ PDF, 75Kb PDF document - For best results, view PDF files with the most recent version of Adobe Reader ]

Slides: [ PPT, 1.1M ]

Synopsis by Rick Davenport, TTI Communications

With an off-beat title, the latest University Transportation Center for Mobility™ (UTCM) Colloquium was presented to a full house January 28. "Communicating the Value of Your Research: How to Convince Your Mom That You Contribute to Society" was presented by Tim Lomax (whose mom is convinced her research engineer son contributes to society because of year-round media mentions of his Annual Mobility Report) and Johanna Zmud, president of NuStats, a survey science consultancy based in Austin that specializes in transportation studies.

The presentation was the result of a National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) project designed to help researchers, research directors and managers focus on the value of their research, not just the findings. As part of the project, Zmud, Lomax and others examined the elements of successful research programs and projects.

"We want to help ensure that the hard work of researchers actually makes a difference and is noticed for the value that it has for many purposes," Lomax said. "The first step, we think, is for us to think about the value of that research and how a range of audiences might understand that value. Knowing that will help guide them to the people and groups that are most affected by the results. The next step is to know how to communicate that message to the right audience."

Zmud detailed several case studies of successful research projects and programs in a wide range of topics over the last two decades. She told the audience that the value of communication for each successful project differed; various methods and outlets were used to successfully promote the value of the research depending on the project. "The common element to creating the widespread perception of value was a strong communication strategy," Zmud said. She recommended that a communication plan be built into proposal budgets. She also said that the case studies clearly show that the development of interpersonal relationships was the most important communication element in the successful projects.

Lomax urged audience members to offer suggestions on how to improve the presentation (his mother is reluctant to accept the same old news clippings). Zmud and the other team members will use those suggestions as they conduct workshops on their findings.

[ Back to Previous Colloquia ]