In our first post in this blog series, we introduced the advantages of using altmetrics to curate your digital identity as a researcher. The aim of this post is to look in more detail at how you can do just that, and provide some tips for how to adapt your online activity to successfully promote your research. We also talked to Ethan White, Biology researcher at the University of Florida, and Jacquelyn Gill, Professor of Ecology at the University of Maine, to see what tips they had for our readers.
Ethan and Jacquelyn both said they use blogs and Twitter most often to promote their research. Blogs are a really great way to introduce new research and participate in the conversations that are happening in your field. However, the blogosphere is not simply an online space from which to alert the world to your own activities.
Following other blogs, commenting on other people’s posts and including links to other blogs in your posts means you can participate in wider academic discussions, and potentially invite more engagement with your own research. If you create a blog using WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr, you can view and save preferred blogs from the same platform using the built-in “suggested blogs” sections on their sites.
You can also install the free Altmetric bookmarklet to see if anyone has mentioned your own research (or even other research published in your field) in a blog post – simply drag the bookmarklet to your browser bar and click it while viewing your article on the publisher site to bring up the Altmetric data.
For more blogging tips, this post from Helen Eassom at Wiley has some great suggestions for effective practise.
Maintaining a consistent digital identity
It’s important to be consistent with how you present your identity across different online platforms. For example, you might want to use the same photo across your university faculty page, blog homepage and social media accounts, so that people who might be interested in your research can instantly identify you and verify (for example) your Twitter account against your LinkedIn profile.
Another way of maintaining these connections is to link between platforms when posting. You can do this by sharing your newest blog posts on social media, or including a link to your blog or website in your Twitter bio and faculty page. According to Jacquelyn Gill, “Maintaining visibility on multiple platforms is key! I’ve found Twitter to be an especially great resource in signal-boosting blog posts and new articles. Most other platforms don’t take much work, but it’s always worth putting in the time to keep them up-to-date”.
Blogs and social media networks can offer the opportunity to engage with people you might not otherwise have had the chance to meet. If (for example) a fellow researcher leaves an interesting comment on one of your blog posts, it should be easy to respond to their comments, and perhaps later locate them on social media to continue the conversation. The people they follow might also be useful contacts to engage with, thereby increasing your own network. If you’re on the conference circuit, it’s always worth following up any talks you give with a link directly to your published research, using the conference hashtag to alert other delegates to your tweet.
As with blogging, the Altmetric bookmarklet can show you who has been sharing both your own work and other outputs published in your discipline via their blogs and on Twitter, Facebook, Sina Weibo and Google Plus – providing insight into who it might be worth following or reaching out to for additional visibility in future.
Ethan White had lots of interesting things to say about using online platforms to manage and update your professional network. He argued that it’s more useful to think of blogs and social media as tools to create mutually beneficial relationships that support knowledge dissemination.
“Developing a good network of online colleagues will ultimately help you promote your research online more successfully. Think about it this way: if you had a colleague who only ever stopped by your office to tell you that they’d just had a new paper published, you might not be super excited to see them, but if you have a colleague who you talk to about lots of different things, and respect based on their opinions on science in general, then you’d be excited to hear that they had a new idea or had just published a new paper”.
Ethan’s analogy works really well, and suggests that a researcher’s attitude towards online engagement with research is just as important as their practises.
Sharing your own research online
Ensuring you research is as freely accessible as possible can really help raise your profile online. Make a habit of uploading articles to your institutional repository or sharing them amongst academic networks like Mendeley, Zotero or ResearchGate (once they are free of any embargo restrictions, of course), so they can be read by people who may not otherwise have access.
You can also use services such as Figshare to upload and attach unique identifiers to non-article research outputs, such as datasets, posters or images – giving other researchers the opportunity to reuse and build on your work (dependant on your chosen security and copyright preference settings). Once you’ve made your research available, you might like to include links to your outputs from your email signature, institutional faculty page or LinkedIn profile, or even post it to a subject specific forum.
If you’re keen to take it a step further you might like to consider building your own website to showcase your work. There are lots of free platforms available, so this need not be technically daunting – try Moonfruit or Wix to help you get started.
Finally…..how can I make sure my online activity is picked up by Altmetric?
If you have a blog, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the homepage and a link to the RSS feed, so we can add it to our list, and start picking up mentions of published research outputs in your posts.
When blogging about research, make sure you embed a link to the article in the main body of text. Our software ignores headers and footers when scraping a page, so mentions of articles in footnotes don’t get picked up.
When posting on social media, attach a link to the main article page of the research output on the publisher website, rather than to a PDF.
As always, feel free to give us feedback on this blog post – thanks for reading!