Stories of Engagers: Dide van Eck and Noortje van Amsterdam

How could you share research results in a creative way, and how do you ensure that not all emotion disappears from the research? Researchers Dide van Eck (Radboud University) and Noortje van Amsterdam (Utrecht University) conduct research in diversity within organisations. They document the results in unique poems.

Dide van Eck (links) en Noortje van Amsterdam
Dide van Eck (left) en Noortje van Amsterdam

Can you tell something about your joint research and the poems?

“Together we are conducting research in the impact of body size in organisations. How do large women deal with weight-related stigmas in their jobs? During the interviewing of participants, strong emotions emerged, for example as a result of family problems or a difficult childhood. When analysing the data, we noticed that these emotions disappeared and the data were "flattened out", so to speak."

“That is why we started Poetry at Work, a project that makes the results of our research accessible to a wider audience. We write poems that we post on our website, and share with the participants in our research. The poems are a combination of the words and emotions of the participants, supplemented with our own reflections and insights from literature. Our goal is to touch more people with our research."

Why poems?

“Dide started writing poetry when she was young. During her studies in Public Administration and Organizational Science, she followed Noortje’s Creative Research Methods course. In each chapter of her thesis she wrote a short poem. Noortje has been writing since childhood. She wrote her first research poem during an auto-ethnographic study into breastfeeding.”

“In first instance, we wrote the poems for ourselves. Later we shared a poem with an audience at a conference. We noticed the audience was surprised and impressed. We then wrote an academic article and presented it at another conference. As a result of that presentation, many questions arose from teachers, among others, where the poems could be found. We then published our website last December.”

Why do you think it is important to share research with a wide audience?

“We believe our research should not only have an impact on the academic world, but also be accessible, understandable and recognisable to people outside of it. Our research have social themes. We want to create awareness with the poems.”

What tips do you have for a fellow researcher who wants to share his / her research results in a creative way?

“Dare to do something different and be vulnerable! Find a way that suits you and your research. Art is not the goal in itself, but a new way to analyse research material and share the results with a wide audience."