Academic podcasting is a new form of content creation, a medium for content dispersion and part of a movement that seeks to expand intellectual engagement. Moreover, podcasting in academia has the potential to foster new communities of practice, to open academic knowledge and change the way research is imagined. In its most basic form a podcast is defined as on-demand radio, or digital audio content on an online platform, that is archived and available for download at any time. While writing is still the dominant form of production in academia, other media, particularly visual media, have contributed significantly to certain methods of inquiry. Moreover, whilst there is a growing trend for visual dissemination such as the live streaming of talks and conferences, these outputs often fail to reach large numbers of people and are technically complicated and expensive to produce. Podcasts meanwhile are not only relatively easy and cheap to make but can offer a much more intimate user experience.
CMDS’ project will map various podcasting models, looking first at good practices and successful examples of podcasts across three themes: geographic, historic and disciplinary. The resulting report will critically assess the current field of academic podcasting with a focus on the social sciences and humanities. The assessment will include a review of technologies, costs and implications for dispersal. Engagement will be measured in terms of number of listeners and level of interaction (both on the distribution platform and 'offline'). Aside from listening to and critically assessing each of the currently active podcast series, the research will involve semi-structured interviews with selected podcast makers; a survey distributed to all podcast makers; and a survey distributed to podcast listeners.