If you don’t talk about it, it hasn’t happened. In other words, you can do the best science in the world but without communicating it, it doesn’t exist – and nor do you! So here are some ideas to help you to increase your exposure:
Science is a global and societal endeavour, so as a scientist you’re obligated to disseminate your research in one way or another. Journal papers provide the best rewards for scientists in terms of their personal impact and career advancement, especially when they are published in international journals with a high impact factor. Conferences also provide an ideal stage to present one’s science to other specialists in the field, particularly if you are selected to give a talk, placing you in the spotlight and giving you the opportunity to network with other speakers in the session. Posters are a great way to package your work into an A0-sized self-explanatory presentation, to be viewed by delegates during the conference and with the opportunity to explain your work to interested passers-by during the designated poster sessions.
So far so good … but what other ways can you communicate your work? How else can you increase your exposure? Research suggests that promoting your published paper on Twitter and other social media can significantly increase your citations and coverage, especially if your research is applied and you can include attractive and appealing images. Using conference hashtags and tweeting to other delegates ahead of and during conferences can also help build your network and increase your profile. A well-worded press release about your science, just published or about to be disseminated at a conference, can also escalate your exposure so that it even appears in mainstream national and international news outlets.
Last month, the subject of my blog was all about a paper I published in Microbiology Letters on the subject of networking. This mini-review showcased the many ways in which you can use networking to enhance your career prospects and I made use of social media to try to extend its notoriety. The ‘Twitter effect’ was quite minimal, but when I posted it on LinkedIn, it was viewed over 1800 times increasing its exposure quite considerably. Researchgate is also a good way to promote your research and you can make yourself more visible by engaging in discussions, asking and answering questions and generally being an active participant.
You can take a proactive approach by offering to organise or co-organise a conference session. For example, I proposed a number of sessions for the ESOF2018 meeting, which features interdisciplinary science, careers, science communication, business and policy. This put me in touch with lots of people working in my field with the aim of bringing us together in one place, not only to run our session, but also to network and have a nice time hanging out with each other and catching up in Toulouse! Learned societies, who organise a lot of major conferences, sometimes invite PhD students and postdoctoral researchers to organise a session or even a research conference. For example, the Physiological Society has a number of schemes for early career researchers and the Microbiology Society ran its first Early career conference this year.
Finally, if you’re less inclined to be posting, tweeting and joining societies, quality as opposed to quantity can be just as effective. Make use of the same sources of communication but target one or two key people with whom you want to get more closely acquainted. Devise a strategy to communicate with them, meet and even start working with them, e.g. find common ground between you by reading about their work, interests etc., and find a link to your own research and even leisure activities.
I hope this short blog has helped you to focus on the many ways you can put yourself and your science into the spotlight and that the sunny weather won’t be the only exposure you’ll be getting this Summer !