You’ve published your latest research article. You might have introduced your findings at a seminar. These are excellent achievements, but how can you get your research deliverables and knowledge to a wider audience than your journal’s readers and seminar attendees?
In this article, we cover the ways to disseminate your research outputs through a variety of channels and tactics. We’ll cover blogs and social media channels, as well as research objects like Figshare and Nature’s Protocols Exchange. We’ll also include a few other other practical means. Finally, we’ll show you how Altmetric can help track and measure your successes.
Blogs are a great way to take part in the many online conversations happening in your research discipline. You could start or join these conversations when following blogs by academics with similar research interests. At some point, you may find that it’s time to try blogging for yourself. When the time comes, perhaps try writing a few posts introducing your latest academic publications, your recent grant-funded projects, or other ongoing work.
If using WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, or similar content platforms accommodating blogs, make sure to add the appropriate tags to your blog posts. This will influence the content that will be recommended to you. This will also make it easier for like-minded researchers to find your own blog. To reach out to the wider blogging community in your academic discipline, include links to research outputs by other authors in your posts, and join the conversation by commenting on other blog posts. In order to be more discoverable, your blogs should be roughly 1,000 words in length. Longer blog posts, those around 2,000 words, tend to rank higher in search results.
Using social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, means you can engage with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. They also enable you to promote your work on a global scale.
Many bloggers also promote their work on social media. If you start following blogs written or recorded by academics with similar interests, it should be fairly easy to identify that blogger on Twitter. Once you’ve started following these accounts, you can reach out to them directly or discover new content by seeing what else they post about.
Twitter is also really useful if you’re on the conference circuit. Whether you’re presenting at a conference or just attending out of interest, tweet using the conference hashtag and start following any contacts you made during the day. If you’re presenting, take the opportunity to tweet a link to your research for people to read further. Or, if you’re really on top of things, set up a scheduled tweet to be posted as your talk is happening!
And on the subject of hashtags, make sure to include them frequently in your posts to more broadly disseminate your research among the scholarly community – or just network. Here are some leading Twitter hashtags followed by the research community.
- #ACADEMICTWITTER - a popular hashtag covering a wide range of topics in the academic community.
- #GETYOURMANUSCRIPTOUT - a hashtag for support as you reach the final stretch with your manuscript.
- #ECRCHAT - a place for early-career researchers to connect.
- #WRITETHATPHD - a place that PhD candidates can visit for support as they produce their dissertations.
- #ACADEMICLIFE - a common hashtag used in academia. Includes both serious and non-serious posts.
LinkedIn may seem like it’s more for businesses, sales, and job searching, but it’s actually quite important for scholars. It’s an excellent platform to showcase your research articles, blog posts, achievements, and other information for potential collaborators. You can also join professional groups to partake in conversations and increase the discoverability of you and your work.
Instagram, the preferred social network of millennials, has more than 1 billion active users each day. It’s an excellent venue for promoting your published research and blogs while building a large group of followers - or a quality group that may be interested in your little corner of the research world. Instagram may seem image focused, but there’s plenty of space (2,200 characters) for text in your posts, making it an ideal place to visually and verbally discuss your research.
Unlike most other channels, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags (#) to help users focus on a broader or more finite audience. Those studying plant disease, for example, can attract followers through more general hashtags, like #plantpathology or #plantpath. Those who want to attract those in a specific subdiscipline might use even more targeted hashtags like #mycology or #phytophthora.
Tracking your social media attention with Altmetric
The Altmetric Attention Score is a weighted count of the attention that a scholarly article has received. It incorporates news, blogs, various forms of social media, and other outlets, then comes with an aggregate score reflecting the breadth to which your work has been promoted.
Download the free Altmetric bookmarklet to view all the attention data for your published research outputs. Then click on the donut image to see the details page, which will show you who has been talking about your work, and what they’ve been saying.
Illustration of an Altmetric score and its associated data:
Learn more about the basics of altmetrics and the Altmetric score in this video, "A Beginner's Guide to Altmetrics":
Using research objects to disseminate your knowledge
Research papers are now more than static articles found in refereed journals. Publishers are increasingly featuring elements of a research paper as independent research “objects.” These are shareable, citable, and reusable elements of a paper that can be found in special repositories.
Companies such as figshare have started issuing DOIs for datasets, image files, conference slide-sets and software packages, which means you can start including links to these outputs in your blog posts and on social media, and see those mentions reflected in your altmetrics data. For more details on how Altmetric is now tracking other types of research output, see this blog post.
The Protocol Exchange is an open-access repository of protocols produced by Nature Research and housed on Research Square. It enhances and maximizes the value of your paper’s protocol by making it an independent research object. The value of protocols and the Protocol Exchange to you is that it supports the distribution of your protocol more widely across disciplines. It can also help build citations - at the preprint or publication stage.
Share and track all your research outputs online
One of the advantages of altmetrics is that you can track the online attention for all your research outputs, rather than only understanding the impact of your work through the citation counts for your journal articles.
Other ways to disseminate your research online
Talk to your institution
If you want to see how your research is being disseminated to a wider audience, it’s worth getting in touch with the research office or comms team at your institution. If you’ve just published a new article or the results of a large dataset, why not contact them to ask if they would consider featuring it in an interview, press release, newsletter or research highlights email?
Curate a consistent digital identity
It’s important to make your identity clear across different platforms, so that (for example) someone can easily verify your Twitter profile against your blog. You can do this by using the same photo on all your online profiles, and by including links to the different platforms in your posts. Creating an ORCID ID will help ensure that you get credit for the research that belongs to you, and can help make you more easily identifiable (particularly amongst other researchers with the same name, for example).
Build a website
You could even develop a whole website that includes your blog, CV and Twitter feed, and a section that introduces you and your research interests. You could then link to this site from your posts and your institutional profile. People are more likely to engage and share your work online once they are able to identify and begin to recognize you across platforms.
How can I make sure my posts are picked up by Altmetric?
- If you decide to start a blog, make sure you select a platform that attaches working RSS feeds to blogs. Then email Altmetric at [email protected] to tell them about it, so they can start tracking it!
- Tell Altmetric about any blogs maintained by the press office at your institution.
- When blogging about your latest published research, make sure you include a link to the research output in the main body of text in the blog post. Altmetric’s page scraping software ignores headers, footers and peripheral page content, so links to research outputs in footnotes will not be picked up.
- When tweeting about research outputs, include a link to a publication page like this, rather than a link to a PDF.
- Altmetric doesn't pick up Facebook posts from individual timelines; only posts on public facing pages. Why not set up a faculty or lab page to promote the research coming out of your department? Be sure to share the link to the publication page in your posts.
- Don’t forget – Altmetric also tracks YouTube! If you’re in the habit of making videos explaining your research, email them so they can start tracking your channel. Make sure you include direct links to the research outputs in the “description” field for each video.
Research Square offers research promotion services to help researchers disseminate their published articles and other research deliverables. Learn more about them here.
Note: "Elements of this article originally appeared in The Source: https://www.springernature.com/gp/researchers/the-source/blog/blogposts-communicating-research/best-practices-for-successful-research-dissemination-discovery/16595476.
“Best practices for successful research dissemination & discovery”. The Source, Thu Sep 10, 2015
“The 8 Practical Blogging Trends You Really Need to Follow in 2022”. DevriX, Tue Nov 30, 2021