Transparency and Accountability: Communicating Data to Stakeholders


In today’s data-driven world, universities play a pivotal role not only in generating knowledge but also in effectively communicating their research findings and data to a diverse range of stakeholders. In this post, we will explore effective methods for universities to communicate research findings and data to various stakeholders, including faculty, staff, and the public.

The Importance of Transparent Communication

Transparency is the cornerstone of trust-building in any institution. Transparency is the foundation of trust. When individuals or organizations are open and honest in their communication, it fosters trust among stakeholders. This trust is essential for establishing strong relationships, whether with colleagues, students, or the public. For universities, being transparent in sharing research findings and data is crucial to maintaining credibility and fostering a culture of accountability. Transparent communication holds individuals and organizations accountable for their actions and decisions. When information is readily available and accessible, it becomes easier to assess and evaluate performance and responsibilities. Transparent communication ensures that stakeholders have access to the information they need to make informed decisions. In academic and institutional settings, this is especially important for making data-driven decisions that can have a significant impact.

Here are some effective methods to achieve this:

  1. Clear and Accessible Reports:
    • Create clear and concise reports that highlight key findings, avoid jargon, and present data in an easily digestible format, with clear definitions of what the data represents.
    • One must ensure that these reports are accessible to all stakeholders and even consider using online platforms or distributing physical copies as needed.
  2. Data Dashboards:
    • One of the areas I have jumped headstrong into lately is the ramp-up of our dashboards using PowerBI (love it by the way).  Interactive data dashboards allow stakeholders to explore data in real-time and provide a dynamic way for users to engage with the information that matters most to them, especially if data slicers are included.
  3. Engaging Infographics:
    • Transform complex data into visually appealing infographics. Infographics can quickly convey important information to a wide audience, highlighting what is important.
  4. Public Presentations:
    • Host public presentations and webinars to share research findings. This allows for direct interaction with stakeholders and the opportunity to address questions and concerns.  For me, this begins in the spring.
  5. Regular Updates:
    • Establish a schedule for sharing updates on research projects and data trends. Consistency builds trust and keeps stakeholders informed.

Customized Approaches for Different Stakeholders

Universities have diverse stakeholders with varying levels of familiarity with data. To effectively communicate with each group, consider customizing your approach:

  1. Faculty:
    • Engage faculty through departmental or college-wide meetings and workshops tailored to their specific needs on the data and/or research front. Different disciplines require different data.
    • Provide training on how to interpret and use data to inform teaching and research.  As a Carnegie R2 institution, we need to do more of this and through my office, we are preparing to extend statistical consulting services for faculty research.
  2. Staff:
    • Develop internal communication channels, such as newsletters or intranet platforms, to keep staff informed about institutional research.
    • Conduct training sessions to enhance data literacy among staff members, which is absolutely key.  I know I sound like a broken record when I talk about data, but in my mind, it is necessary so that everyone understands what the numbers mean.
  3. Public:
    • Use social media (such as this blog post) and university websites to share research findings and data with the public, where appropriate.


Transparency and accountability are essential for universities when communicating research findings and data to their stakeholders. By employing clear and accessible methods, customizing approaches for different stakeholders, and maintaining a commitment to transparency, a university can effectively communicate its data and research findings, fostering trust and accountability within its communities.

To transparency and accountability with data!

Brian M. Morgan
Chief Data Officer, Marshall University

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