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Best practices for successful research dissemination & discovery

About this seriesThrough August and September we are publishing a series of posts authored by some of the team at Altmetric, a data science company who provide such attention data to authors, publishers, institutions and funders. The posts will discuss, amongst other topics, using altmetrics within your C.V.s and grant applications, and how journal editors can make use of the tools. Learn more about the series by starting with the first post here. This particular post is authored by guest blogger Fran Davies.


 

Blogs and social media

9.10_1Blogs are a great way to participate in the online conversations happening in your research discipline. You could start by following blogs by academics with similar research interests, and then might like to try it out for yourself – perhaps write a few posts introducing your publications and ongoing projects.

If using WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr, make sure you add the appropriate tags to your blog posts, as this will influence the content that will be recommended to you, and will make it easier for like-minded researchers to find your 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.

Using social media platforms such as Twitter means you can engage with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet, and promote your work on a global scale. If you start following blogs by academics with similar interests, it should be fairly easy to identify that blogger on Twitter. Once you’ve started following them, you can reach out to them directly or discover new content by seeing what else they post about. Combining blogging and Twitter activity means you can grow your online network and develop mutually beneficial lines of communication with your peers around the world.

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!)

Remember, you can download the free Altmetric bookmarklet to view all the attention data for your published research outputs – 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.

Share 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. 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 are starting to track other types of research output, see this blog post.

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).

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 recognise you across platforms.

Finally….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 support@altmetric.com 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 don’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 track 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.

* image of details page from article published in Climatic Change

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