You might agree that publishing a paper in a well-known, high impact scientific journal is no longer the only available tool to promote your work as a researcher.
On one hand, it has become more and more difficult to stand out in a world of hyper-production of scientific papers - in 2016 alone, more than 2.000.000 papers have been published worldwide. On the other hand, the race for the biggest impact has, in fact, limited the sharing of scientific knowledge.
Instead of focusing exclusively on the “publish or perish” mentality, why not be more open to a “share & connect” attitude?
By making your work more visible and accessible, it is more likely to be found and cited by your peers and the scientific community in general. This in turn can help improve the impact of your research and enable you to build your scientific reputation.
There are different ways of promoting your research online, and here are some of them:
Get a digital ID
This is probably an obvious first step for many researchers, but essential: get an ORCID identifier.
Scholarly publishing is prone to confusion and mistaken identities. You may share the same name with other researchers or might have changed your name at some point of your career. How are others supposed to know if they’ve found the right you?
By assigning a unique and permanent identifier, ORCID helps you protect your scholarly identity and keep your publication record up-to-date with little effort.
Other reasons to sign up for an ORCID identifier:
- Provide your ORCID ID to funders and publishers when required
- Create an online CV
Set up profiles on key online platforms
Yes, it's true. Setting up profiles on different platforms requires replicating the same information and occasional updates (for instance, when you change jobs, finish your PhD, etc.).
However, the time you invest will be rewarded by improving your online visibility, so that others find the information you want them to see.
We would suggest, at least, the following platforms:
Google Scholar does not only work as an academic search platform. It also allows you to showcase your papers and the citations they’ve received, all in one place.
Your Google Scholar profile gives an overview of your work and of the impact of your research, including the number of citations and metrics many researchers love to track (h-index, i10-index).
Additional benefits of Google Scholar:
You receive notifications every time Google detects that your work has been cited, which, in turn, can help you understand how your work is being used (or not).
You improve your scholarly SEO (aka “googleability”) and share your publications more easily with new readers.
Users can "Follow" you and receive notifications of your new publications.
To create a profile, you will need a Gmail account. Instructions to set up your Google Scholar profile can be found here. And don't forget to make your profile public!
Many of you may already have LinkedIn profiles, but it is always a good idea to improve them to maximize your impact.
Be sure that the information available on your profile is accurate and engaging. Here are a few suggestions:
Customize your profile's URL to include your name. This step can help increase the traffic to your profile when people search for you online. You should see the option to edit your public profile URL, on the right side of your profile page.
Share your publications, important conference presentations, etc. LinkedIn provides a series of options to add sections to your profile page Don't skip the chance to customize your profile with relevant information that will help promote your research in your LinkedIn network.
ResearchGate and other online platforms for researchers
Apart from broad networking sites like LinkedIn, as a researcher, it's also important to have a presence on websites geared specifically toward the research community, such as ResearchGate.
Even though their appeal is limited to the research/academic community, these websites provide an opportunity for members to discover your research and to encourage collaborations.
Together, these online platforms provide an important space to promote research, discuss and evaluate it. And most of the profiles can be linked to your ORCID identifier.
Make your research available
The vast majority of potential readers of your papers, who are not affiliated with a higher education institution, do not have access to academic journals.
Since each individual document has an access cost, the probability of someone reading your paper is pretty low, even if the title and abstract look interesting enough (and most of the times, they don't).
Even potential readers based in higher education institutions may not have access to many journals, due to budget cuts or embargoes (in some cases, over a year long). So, it really doesn't matter how motivated they are to read your paper, because it may not be available to them.
For those reasons, you should always try to make sure your research is open to all kinds of readers, interested in your work (subject to the journals’ terms and conditions, of course).
To help promote your research online, you can share open access versions of your outputs via:
your institution's repository (if applicable)
platforms and social networks like LinkedIn, etc., with the advantage that your followers get a notification every time you share a new publication, hence drawing their attention to your new papers
Slideshare to share powerpoints of your conference presentations, invited talks, classes, etc.
Figshare to upload, save and share your research outputs, from papers and posters to codes and data sets.
These tools make your research more discoverable and available to those who want to read it, without any barriers or limitations.
Join the conversation
There is loads of academic discussion happening in blogs, LinkedIn groups, ResearchGate, etc. And anyone can join them, in real time.
Of course, a comment posted on a blog isn’t the same as an article. But if you consider an entire discussion (trolls comments aside), it can sometimes hold enough ideas for a dozen new articles and help promote your research to your peers.
The original Polymath project is a great example of the positive dynamic that can come out of these discussions.
Another suggestion is to edit pages of the Internet's most popular general reference website: Wikipedia. Wikipedia is frequently used by researchers, students, and people in general, and one of the most-visited websites in the world.
Editing Wikipedia pages in your field of expertise, will not only help improve the quality of the information that is already available, but also allow you to include your own research outputs, making it visible to larger audiences.
Make your research user-friendly
It's possible to give easier access to your research, however, that doesn't mean that it's really "accessible".
Scientific papers tend to be written in very formal terms and not very user-friendly (for example, in-text referencing can make reading and comprehension more difficult).
So, even if your research reaches different types of audiences, it won't be easy to understand for everybody.
To make your work, or your subject knowledge, more accessible, you will have to rethink and adapt the type of language and the format of your paper.
Writing a blog post from your journal paper is a great way to make your research more accessible and to promote it online.
You can always post on long form sharing platforms like Medium, or LinkedIn’s long post. In fact, these options may be even better in terms of reach. Creating and publishing a post on both platforms is simple and intuitive.
For instance, to become an author on Medium, all you need is to set up your own profile. Once you're signed up, you can start writing your own articles and recommend other authors' articles (check out this example).
Other options are curated blogs - blogs that collect content from different authors related to specific topics - such as the LSE Impact Blog or The Conversation.
You can become one of the authors of those blogs and take advantage of an already established online community of readers. They can even help you with matters such as editing or images.
Try to use a plain language, a reasonably sized font, and lots of space and to keep your text reasonably short when writing a blog post from your paper, so that your research is accessible for everyone.
And finally, a few more tips to promote your research online and help others find out more about your work and experience:
If you have a lab page or website, it is helpful to keep it current and detailed. As a researcher, you probably don't always have control over the website, but be sure to tell your university or IT department to update your publications list and other relevant data when necessary.
Use the most simple of daily online tools to promote your work and share your professional profiles - your email signature. To make it easier for you, we've already prepared 3 templates that you can use as your customized Gmail signature. Download the templates for free below and let us know if they were useful to you.