The point you are missing when criticizing public funded research
In my short academic career, five years if I count from the start of my PhD degree in 2015, I have met many practitioners and professors who criticize the contribution of academic research to the society. The criticism in mainly surrounding the fact that majority of the published articles are not read by public whose tax funded the research or the salary of the researcher. I think, we, academics, are largely responsible for this.
To enhance impact of your research on society, please consider:
(1) Doing research (at least some) that you can later give your students to read. I do not mean only PhD students but all level students including bachelor and masters. When students read research articles for their coursework, even if they do not use it directly in their practical job later, unconsciously they will use their learnt analytical skills and critical thinking to solve problems in the practical job. To me, this is the purpose of education.
(2) Sharing your published article on social media, particularly facebook, twitter and linkedIn. Even if we publish all article in open access, not a majority of people will search and find your work. But we can of course increase the probability of being our articles read by sharing in social media. Many researchers think that their job is done as soon as their research is published in a journal, and this is so wrong. If you are not disseminating properly, you are also responsible for not creating impact from public funded research. So, don’t just blame other factors.
(3) Publishing a simpler and short version of your research findings in a local or regional or international newspaper or magazine. Write this using very simple sentences (like Donald Trump) so that even a 7 years old can understand your findings. General people find it difficult to understand fancy academic writing style (and we should do something about it).
(4) Giving a talk about your research findings in a practitioners seminar or local event. Consider making a podcast or a simple video abstract. I would love to upload your video abstract on the Research HUB YouTube channel. Most academics only attend academic conferences and never interacts with people working in industry.
If you do not agree with me, leave your thoughts in a comment below.