Thursday, September 5, 2013

Five platforms to increase the visibility of your research

As a young researcher, you like to share your work with the world. Even though I've focused on online tools you can use to increase the visibility of your research on this blog, there are other platforms that you can use to showcase your work.

Gaining visibility for your research might be more difficult when you start than for a well-established senior professor. Your name might not be known in your field yet, and therefore a little extra effort to bring forth your message might be necessary.

You might think that conferences are enough for you, and someone else might think that online sharing of your work is the best way to increase your outreach. But I beg to differ: try to reach out through different platforms, try to engage with different audiences, and connect with different groups.

Building a reputation for your research shouldn't be linked solely to one platform. You might feel more comfortable at using one given platform, but growing into a well-rounded researchers requires your ability to share you knowledge on the majority of these platforms.

Here are the five main platforms over which you should divide your efforts:

1. Online
Share your presentations on Slideshare, Storify tweets from conferences, update your LinkedIn account, use (micro)blogging to reach out to your peers, keep a profile on Google Scholar, Academia.edu or ResearchGate.

Do you need to be on all these websites, on every single social media platform and constantly chattering away online?
Of course not! Choose wisely, and keep your goal in mind. My (initial) goal was for other researchers to find my work and my contact information when they Google "slabs subjected to concentrated loads in shear". Spend your time online wisely, and make sure you don't get trapped in the black hole of the internet.

2. Industry
Try to show up at industry events and share your work with practitioners. Even though you might be into very theoretical research, it's always useful on one hand to show the industry the value of your (theoretical) research and on the other hand to stay informed about the issues that are important in practice - these both elements can be crucial when you apply for a grant.

3. Within your institution
Don't be an anonymous grey mouse in your institution - but share your work with colleagues. Have a project description on a poster outside of your door, and update your information on your institution's website. Get involved in side projects that bring you in contact with researchers from different disciplines. Let people know what you work on, and where your expertise lies.

4. Conferences

To reach out to peers in your research field, attend conferences and present your work there. Conferences are arguably the most traditional platform to share your work - and it's the best opportunity to share our work with a global community of fellow researchers.

5. Talk to strangers
Life's like a box of chocolates - so if you pick up a conversation on a plane or in line for lunch, then don't brush off questions of others about your work (don't overload them with information either, when they show you not to be too interested in your boring science). You never know how someone might turn out to have a good, practical question for you, or happen to know someone who "does something similar". Embrace serendipity!

What platforms do you use to increase the visibility of your research? Do you focus on one platform, or do you divide your efforts over multiple platforms?

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