How to improve your visibility as a researcher

As a researcher, the hard work doesn’t stop once your research is published. Part of your job is to self-promote your research to increase its visibility. This requires a lot of effort and can come with challenges.

Learning how to self-promote your research may be uncomfortable at times, but the effort is worth it. Increasing your research visibility can lead to future collaboration opportunities, an increase of citations to your work, and potentially as more people find your work, they will read and build upon it.

Continue reading this blog post to learn how to get started on improving your research visibility.

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Building your brand

As a researcher, you are your own brand. A lot of planning and preparation is required to build your brand successfully. Before you begin to think about how you are going to do this, there are two essential points to always remember:

  • Be authentic

  • Be consistent

It can be difficult to know how to get started on building your brand, so we have pulled together a few important things to consider. Take your time to think through these points, to help you understand your key objectives, and possible plans for building your brand. It may be useful to make notes for referring to later – as a reminder of your brand goals.

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  • Think about your natural style. It is important to play to your strengths, and your unique personality. For example, your brand shouldn’t be over-friendly and eccentric if you are naturally a cool, reserved person.

  • Brainstorm your reasons to why you want to build your brand. Is the aim to improve your reputation as a researcher? Or to receive invitations to be give keynotes? Or perhaps you want to be sought after for consulting opportunities.

  • Think about your future career. How would you describe your work now, and what are your future interests? Consider if there is anything you don’t currently do, but know you want to do in the future.

Who are you?

As a researcher, people want to know you. Often, the people who find your research will also want to find you, the researcher. To do this, they might search your name on Google, or another search engine. So, you want the search results to reflect who you are. And no one knows you better than yourself – you are responsible for writing your own story.

Wherever you can, you should submit your biography. There are many places were your biography (or ‘bio’) can exist: on social media platforms, any personal websites, conferences, and when signing off on an article. In all print and online places where you can include your biography, you should. To help with publishing your bios, you should create the following:

  1. A short bio: this should be 1-2 lines

  2. A longer bio: this should be 1-2 paragraphs

When drafting your bios, make sure you know how you want to present yourself. Often, your biography is one of the first things people see/read about you, so make sure it describes you well and accurately. Make sure that they are consistent too, this helps you and your brand become recognizable.

Another thing to consider is that some people might find you by topical searching. Including keywords (and hashtags on social media platforms) in your biographies is important.

Put a face to your name

People want to associate a face with your name. So you need a high-quality head shot if you want to build a recognizable brand. To get a good head shot, you may need to recruit a friend, family member or fellow researcher to help. Make sure they have a digital camera or a smart phone.

When you have your head shots taken, be aware of the lighting and your background. You want good natural lighting, so perhaps consider having photos outside or in front of a large window. A plain background helps keep the focus on you, but why not try choosing somewhere that is relevant to your researcher career. Perhaps your university campus, or an interesting building.

Choose your favorite head shot, and then use this one across all your platforms and profiles. This will increase your chances of being identifiable by your audience.

Building your online presence

Now you have prepped your brand plan, your biographies, and have a head shot, it is time to start getting your brand out there. There are many ways to build your online presence, so remember not to feel pressure to take them all on.

  • Create a LinkedIn profile. This could be a useful first step, as setting up a LinkedIn account is straightforward. Your LinkedIn profile is an effective way to share your education, research background, and updates on what you are currently doing and working on. It can also be a useful way to find opportunities aligned with what you might be looking for.

    Best of all, you can connect and engage with peers in your field. Communication and being active on LinkedIn is important. Get involved in conversations you are interested in and share your own authentic thoughts.

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  • Share on other social media platforms. There are many you can choose from – Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram to name some popular ones. You don’t have to be on all but being present on one or two is important. Being on social media can be a lot to take in, especially if you haven’t had accounts before.

    Here are two resources to read to help get you started: Essential social media and digital communication skills for researchers, and how to best promote your research on social media.

  • Consider building your own website. Creating your own website can help carve out a more defined space on the internet. This can take a lot of work, but it can be very useful to showcase your publications, media publications, and any appearances or additional work you have been involved with as a researcher.

  • Actively engage in research networking communities. You could become a member of ResearchGate – a very popular academic social network. There are many features which support academics in gaining a reputation including the ability to build a detailed profile. You can share your publications, connect with colleagues, collaborate, get involved in Q&As, and search jobs. The platform also assigns scores to its members, related to a range of factors,(such as, number of publications), to help them measure their impact.

Engage with the media

Every 2 years, close to 2 million journal articles are published each year. If you think your research would be of interest to a wider, non-specialist audience, consider pitching to the media. Many media outlets are interested in stories from researchers.

It can be tricky shifting from academic writing to a journalistic style of writing, but the results can be worth it. There have been many examples of blog posts from researchers that have gone viral, and resulted in academic opportunities as a result.

There are multiple ways to work with the media. Look at our guide working with the media to promote your research to get familiar with the benefits, making the most of media opportunities, and understanding what journalists might be looking for.

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Final notes

You need to craft your own approach to building your brand and reputation, to improve your research visibility. There is no right or wrong way. Just make sure you do your own research to determine your approach, and remember that the extra effort can be worth it. Take control of your own brand, and who knows where the opportunities may lead.

Where to next?

If you’ve found these tips helpful, take a look at:  

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