Reaching the Crowd: Social Media Promotion and Video Making in Research

Want to learn how to pitch your research, explain its societal and scientifc value and make a self promotional online video? Join this inspiring and innovative course geared to increase your chances for better academic and non-academic engagement. Learn how and where to publish blogs/podcasts/commentaries/opeds about your research and get a hang of making self-promotional online videos with the help of a professional company.

Course level
Advanced Master, PhD candidates and professionals from all fields
Recommended course combinationSession 1: Soft Skill Toolkit
Session 2 
11 January to 19 January 2019
Co-ordinating lecturersP.S.C van Teunenbroek, M.Sc.
Guest lecturers
Dr. A Kerkhofs (ScientistWanted), Prof. Dr Rene Bekkers and Dr Sandra Hasanefendic
Form(s) of instructionInteractive lectures, workgroups and fieldwork
Form(s) of assessmentThree-minute promotion video, pitch in front of an audience, short paper
ECTS2 credits
Contact hours30 contact hours 
Tuition fee

€800 - International students and staff

€500 - VU students and staff

This course will benefit all second, third, and fourth year PhD students as all students should know how to pitch their research and explain the societal and scientific value of their doctoral project. This course utilizes current methods and professionals with significant experience to explain and demonstrate to students how to be successful in pitching doctoral project proposals.  If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please contact us: [email protected]

Not all researchers feel comfortable promoting themselves and their work, which debilitates all of the your hard work because promoting your research is essential if you want to make others aware of your findings. A good starting point for promoting anything is your network. However, extending your network is not easy, especially when you’re new to the game. This course is designed to give you a solid understanding of how to conduct yourself when promoting your research projects. In this course, you will learn how to pitch your research and you will develop the first draft of your online promo video. We focus on online promotion techniques because social media platforms, like LinkedIn and Twitter, are important players, both in our daily lives and in our professional lives. It is only logical that we, as scientists, are also represented online where we can reach much more of a professional audience. 

I started my first blog on my own site in my second year. Now, two years later, I have about 60 blogs and 60 international viewers a month. In addition, I have uploaded several videos about my research and my projects to YouTube. The most popular video has had more than 200 views. As of this month, I am also an official columnist for “De Dikke Blauwe” and “The Fundraiser”. Writing blogs has really boosted confidence: I feel much more secure about my knowledge. PhD students have a tendency to work in isolation rather than connecting with the world around them. Networking is important because it connects us with important actors: society, business, other researchers, etc. By promoting our findings and connecting with the general public, society becomes more involved: its voices and concerns can be heard. Science can be used to solve problems. But in order to help, we have to be aware of what the problem is. By connecting more, we allow society to take on a greater role, and the necessary science can be applied. For this to happen, we need to work closely with companies and non-governmental bodies (hospitals, social institutions, and religious organizations). 

These are the societal and economic factors we need to connect with in order to involve them in co-designing research projects. In addition, more and more journals value ‘open science’: researchers are expected to be transparent about their methods and findings. Therefore, promoting your findings online (besides publishing) is increasingly important, since this will allow more individuals to read and comment on your work. 

The value of research lies not just in developing knowledge, but also in communicating the findings: so reach out to the crowd and connect!
Aim of this course: (1) learning to communicate the value of student’s doctoral project to the general public and (2) communicating student’s findings in terms the target audience understands.
What you will do on the course

In short, this course consists of several lectures from guest speakers: (I) open science (Prof. Dr Rene Bekkers): this lecture demonstrates the scientific value of promoting your video; (II) connecting with policymakers (Dr S. Hasanefendic): this lecture demonstrates the societal value of a promotion video, (III) the personal value of a promotional video: networking and impact. In addition, we will be providing several tips and tricks during workshops given in conjunction with ScientistWanted. ScientistWanted – a small group of scientists who focus on enhancing the communication skills of young researchers – will be giving a series of workshops on how to develop a promotion video. During the workshops, we will discuss questions such as:
-    PhDs student are not in a position to communicate their findings to a broad public because they are lacking in knowledge.
-    If scientists communicate their findings, they do so in a manner that is too sensational.
-    Scientists work too much in isolation, and they don’t try hard enough to communicate their findings to the general public.
-    Communicating your findings is an important part of your PhD trajectory.
-    It is easier for alpha scientists to communicate their findings/value than for beta scientists.
-    Scientists are not educated well enough to communicate their findings to the general public.
Students will also develop a one-minute pitch, which they will present during the course. The final product consists of a three-minute promo video. We will write a script during the course, which students will film and edit on their own. 

This course is rather unique since we will be working with both scientist and practical experts. This will be a practical course focused on communicating the value of your doctoral project and research findings. We will work with ScientistWanted and produce an actual promotion video.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

•    Pitch research in 1 minute in front of a diverse audience;
•    Explain the societal and scientific value of their doctoral projects in general terms;
•    Learn to communicate their research findings in general terms;
•    Promote their doctoral projects online;
•    Promote their research findings online;
•    Learn why promoting student’s doctoral project is important for academic and professional growth;
•    Learn why open science is important for academic and professional growth.

The readings will consist of articles that will be made available beforehand.


Claire van Teunenbroek MSc (organizing lecturer) PhD candidate. Center for Philanthropic Studies, Vrije Universiteit (VU)         Amsterdam, the Netherlands. De Boelelaan 1081, 1081 HV Amsterdam.
Telephone: +31 (0)20 598 4366. Email: [email protected]

Claire van Teunenbroek MSc is a PhD candidate at the Center for Philanthropic Studies at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her research on charitable giving takes a multidisciplinary perspective, combining philanthropic insights with theories from social psychology and behavioural economics. Her current research focusses on the determinants and consequences of social information on (online) charitable giving (for example crowdfunding). In her spare time, she works as a data manager for the research project, Geven in Nederland (Giving in the Netherlands).

“The value of research lies not just in developing knowledge, but also in communicating the findings: so reach out to the crowd and connect!”

Personal (blog) site:
Twitter: @PSCTeunenbroek

ScientistWanted was started by three PhD candidates interested in using scientific knowledge to increase the welfare of society. The company aims to educate PhD’s in communicating and connecting with the general public. They have given several workshops and helped multiple PhD’s communicate their findings. The current team consists of Dr. Amber Kerkhofs, Joshua Obermayer and Mirelle ter Veer. 

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @WantedScientist

Prof. Dr René H.F.P. Bekkers is the Director of the Center for Philanthropic Studies at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His research on prosocial behaviour takes a multidisciplinary perspective on philanthropy, volunteering, blood donation and helping behaviour. His current research focuses on the determinants and consequences of health-related philanthropy, charitable giving, and volunteering.