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Social media for researchers

Social media are increasingly being used for purposes other than being ‘social’. Academic networks such as LinkedIn, ResearchGate, and Academia.edu are used by researchers around the globe to keep in contact with colleagues and collaborators.

Research and other outputs need to be found and read, and that means found online. If someone is looking for you as an individual researcher, they are likely to accept what they find online as the full story. This means that you need to know what is already out there about you, whether you like what people see, and whether your work is actually ‘findable’.

Goodier & Czerniewicz (2012) recommend the following four steps to managing your online presence:

  1. assess your current online presence (ie. Google yourself)
  2. decide on what you would like your online profile to be
  3. improve the accessibility of your outputs by making available what you can
  4. communicate and interact using tools such as a blog, or Twitter.

Essential Tools

Twitter

The most popular Social Networking tool for researchers is Twitter. This 140-character micro-blogging site can be invaluable professionally. As a ‘real-time information network’ it can connect you to just about anything that sparks your interest and give you up to date access to what is happening in your field.

Watch this video with more information about setting up a Twitter account for professional use.

Academia.edu

Academia.edu is a platform where you can share research papers, monitor deep analytics around the impact of your research, and track the research of academics you follow. Placing your publications and presentations on social media will make it easier for others to encounter your work, not only because they are available on a social network, but also because they improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of your research. A recent study found that papers uploaded to Academia.edu receive a 73% boost in citations over 5 years.

ResearchGate

ResearchGate will help you connect with researchers who aren’t on Academia.edu, but ResearchGate also text-mines the publications you’ve uploaded to find out who you’ve cited; they add both researchers you’ve cited, and researchers who have cited you, to your network, as well as colleagues from your department and institution.

Linkedin

Set up a Linkedin profile to improve your visibility and to network with other researchers. LinkedIn is built for businesspeople, not academics, so you will need to translate the traditional scholarly CV into the format on LinkedIn. Make sure you add a photo, make your profile ‘public’, and work hard on getting your ’Headline’ just right. In your ‘Summary’ section, provide concrete details about your research and why it matters.

For more information on Social Media for Researchers, have a look at our list of Collaborative Tools for research, and contact your librarian.