Academia for All: Salford Business School turns research papers into art

Categories: Research, Salford Business School

Academic papers are rich sources of ideas and research, but they can often feel inaccessible to those not in academia, and sometimes even to students themselves. Technical language and detailed methodologies can often turn people off from reading academic literature, and much of it is hidden behind paywalled sites. The University of Salford Business School wants to change that.

Now, the School has commissioned new artwork in comic-strip style to help to explain two papers from academics Dr Angela Byrne, Lecturer in Marketing, and Dr Kitty Rostron, Lecturer in People and Organisations. The project is a knowledge exchange initiative led and facilitated by Dr Adnan Bayyat, designed to make academia more accessible and facilitate public engagement.

The artwork was produced by Andrea Motta, an alumni of the University who graduated in 2021 where he studied Graphic Design. Andrea turned the papers into graphic-novel style art, which tells the story of each paper in an accessible way. The papers selected were Dr Byrne’s ‘Invisible Consumption’, and Dr Rostron’s ‘Decolonising a Module’ respectively.

Both academics embarked on a thorough creative process over a period of three months, to ensure that the essence of their research was accurately communicated through a poster and a comic strip. Dr Byrne and Dr Rostron met with Andrea biweekly, to capture the symbolic representation of key themes, select graphic styles and colour palettes and work together on initial sketches and drafts.

Dr Angela Byrne said of the project: “It’s been amazing to work alongside Andrea to create artworks that will hopefully help more people access and understand my paper. Salford Business School is all about doing things differently and being a disrupter to the norm, and I feel like this project really cements that ethos. The artwork is now on display in the Maxwell building of our Peel Park campus for any students and visitors to enjoy and hopefully learn a little about invisible consumption too.”

Dr Kitty Rostron added: “My paper is all about decolonising the curriculum and making sure we are teaching in an engaging way that resonates with students, so when the opportunity came up to work with Andrea I was thrilled. Working on this project has encouraged me to think further about my research and how it is presented, and I will definitely be keen to explore how we open the door of academia to more people in the future.”

Andrea Motta runs a small press which produces graphic novels, Banana Tiger Press, and is also a freelance illustrator.

“When Salford Business School approached me for this project, I thought it sounded really interesting. Academic language and complicated methodologies can often turn people off from reading traditional papers, which means they are missing out on some fascinating research and new ideas. I wanted to be a part of a project which makes research accessible for everyone, and art is really a great way to create something which everyone can enjoy,” explains Andrea.

If you’re visiting the University of Salford, make sure you pop along to the Maxwell building to see some of the artworks on display on the third and sixth floor of the School.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.