Research Impact Challenge

Day 4: Promote your work and find your network

Welcome to Day Four of the Research Impact Challenge! Today your task is to leverage social networks to make connections, find your research community, and promote your work. Earlier in the week, you claimed your ORCID and other researcher profiles, and explored ways to share your work. As you may have noticed, your scholarly identities proliferate on the internet across different systems, websites, and applications. Today's challenge asks you to reflect on your use of social networks to take control of your professional and scholarly online presence.

To complete today's challenge, think about the following before finding your online community:

  1. What platforms and networks do scholars in your discipline use to communicate online?
  2. If you are looking to share or upload your work online, is it bound by publication or copyright agreement? This is particularly important if you are uploading a publisher's pdf. In recent years, Academia.edu and ResearchGate were both required to take down certain publishers' content that may have been uploaded illegally. 
  3. When using any proprietary platform such as Academia.edu, ResearchGate, Twitter, etc., there are privacy and intellectual freedom considerations. Many of these platforms collect information about you and track what you view and download. Consider the following:
    • How might these platforms create profiles and make judgments about you based on your online activities? 
    • What will they do with the information they collect?
    • What happens to your profile content and information when the platform is bought, sold, or goes out of business?

Academic Social Networks

Academic social networks are social arenas that offer professional and social networks for researchers and scholars. Increasingly important in the scholarly community, these networks combine characteristics of social networks with scientific publications to provide the opportunity to share research and find other researchers. With similarities to online social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, researchers can establish a personal profile to make their research discoverable, list connections, monitor activities, and connect with peers across disciplines, communities and geographic locations. Some networks also provide metrics on publications and engagement such as in the form of citations and views. Although, the metrics you see on a platform may not be representative of your full impact. By cultivating an online academic presence, you can create robust networks surrounding you and your research. Remember, control your image before it controls you!

Most academic social networks are free to join and general topic in nature. You may find a network specific to your discipline. Discipline-specific associations also offer similar networking platforms to connect with members. Here are a few general topic academic networks:

  • ResearchGate is a networking site that allows you to share works, track metrics, and connect with researchers
  • Academia.edu is the largest for-profit academic social network for researchers sharing similar features of ResearchGate
  • Mendeley Research Network is an online network for researchers to share, keep up-to-date and discuss ideas and developments through different public and private groups
  • ImpactStory is a platform where you can create a researcher profile to highlight altmetrics and non-traditional scholarly outputs

Before creating a profile, please take a look at the following reading and resources. They highlight some of the major flaws of popular academic social networks. 

Social Media

The use of social media varies across disciplines and may be more practical and useful in some disciplines than others. Social media platforms can enable powerful connections with colleagues and provide a communication tool for your work beyond your local community. At the same time, there are concerns of harassment, abuse, and even job security. Disproporitioanely exposed to these include people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ community, people working on controversial research, and other vulnerable groups. The decision to engage on social media is a personal and professional consideration and the stakes are not the same for everyone. Only you can decide the most meaningful and productive way to engage with these tools as you decide where to put your time and energy, and how to share your work. 

Tips and tricks to using social media:

Bonus challenge: Create a Twitter account to start connecting with your peers. If you already have a Twitter account, use hashtags to find relevant topics and conversations. 

Twitter is an excellent tool for networking, engaging with the broader community, keeping up to date with news relevant to your field, discovering what’s being discussed at conferences, and promoting yourself and your work. You can go to Twitter.com to create an account. Choose your username and upload a photo that represents you and builds your professional brand. This will also help others find you more easily. Next, add your interests by typing in keywords into the search box, a drop-down menu will appear with suggestions.

Already have a Twitter account? There are also large communities of researchers on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Slack. On Twitter, you can follow organizations or journals relevant to your research, hashtags on relevant topics (#Neuroscience, #MedTwitter), and ongoing conversations for different interest groups (#PhDchat, #ECRchat). You can even follow the Lane Library @LaneLibStanford