Claremont McKenna alum Kendyl Klein got a lot of unexpected acclaim for her 2013 thesis, “Why Don’t I Look Like Her? The Impact of Social Media on Female Body Image“; it’s been downloaded almost 150,000 times, an impressive number for the most accomplished scholar.
So how did this paper on body image and social media get this level of attention? Kendyl used monthly readership reports and her author dashboard to find out.
Elle was able to find Klein’s thesis because Claremont McKenna promotes student work in their institutional repository through full-text open access publications. It turns out that Elle had cited her research in its own piece on the topic, even borrowing part of her article’s title. This broad exposure led thousands of new readers to the original article and gave Public Affairs and Marketing a great story to share about the impact of Claremont McKenna’s research. We checked in with Kendyl recently; it’s been three years since she graduated, and she just saw on her dashboard that Cosmo recently reran the Elle piece, a testament to the quality and relevance of her work.
This kind of impact really makes a difference for an early-career scholar and can inform their research and career paths. Kendyl has noticed that three different State Departments of Education show up as frequent readers, which has inspired her to look into the possibility of pursuing the topic of body positivity and social media outreach in an educational capacity. Kendyl says that this inspired her to start “thinking that my research could be useful in schools: clearly this could turn into some kind of program aimed at parents, teachers, and preteens.”
Kendyl’s thesis, prominently displayed on her LinkedIn page as well as in Scholarship @ Claremont, is enjoying a long post-graduation shelf life. And seeing the impact of her work has helped Kendyl solidify her achievements and what she’s working toward: “this is a reminder of how proud I am that I wrote this. It reminds me of who I am and what I care about.”