Increase your Research Impact

“Is my research making an impact?” is a question we all face as research scientists. Whether answering is for your own motivation, grant applications or public engagement, it is important to understand the outcomes and outputs of our research.

As a funded PhD student, I have recently had my first encounter with reporting the impact of my research and listing my publications, conferences I have attended, outcomes of my PhD, outreach events and so on. My immediate response to this was “ARGH WHAT DO I WRITE?” but after talking to other researchers with impact report writing experience and reviewing my CV that I had recently written, it was actually quite straightforward.

To make this even simpler, there are many different online profiles which allow you to upload your publications, interact with other researchers and which generate metrics to give you immediate insight into the impact of your research. The Impactstory blog offers a November Impact Challenge to introduce researchers to the many platforms available to increase research impact, visibility, professional networks and provide the tools to better evaluate impact.

Going through the blog posts, I have tried to summarise some of the useful tips and have set up several online profiles to test. The main points of the challenge focus on:

  • Find/upload your publications and citations
    Tools: Google scholar, Mendeley, academia.edu, Researchgate
  • Follow updates of research of colleagues and new publications in your field
    Tools: Google scholar, Mendeley, academia.edu, Researchgate, LinkedIn
  • Promote your research
    Tools: social media, blogs, press
  • Track your impact
    Tools: Google Analytics, Google scholar, Mendeley, academia.edu, Researchgate, …

Researchgate and academia.edu are very similar platforms, with the ability to upload/search for your publications, follow other researchers in your field, and read publications. They both also provide metrics with how many times your publications have been read, cited, etc.

Before signing up, it may be useful to see who within your network has profiles on each site, as I found that my publications were more accessible (ie. more people in my group/field) using Researchgate.

Mendeley is a free reference manager and social network which again allows you to upload or search for publications and use as a citation tool. I was unable to find many papers within my research interests, by using the “Particle physics” search. This suggests that I would need to manually upload interesting papers and my publications however the database has many, many papers covering a wide range of fields which may be useful for your research topic.

Google scholar profile searches automatically for online publications, adding them to your profile and notifying you when you have new citations or new publications. It is quite a basic platform, but for a list of publications and number of citations, very effective.

The above tools are all new to me. One problem I found is that there are no links between the individual platforms and no way to export your publications as a list. It would be very useful to be able to extract publications claimed on Google scholar and import to Researchgate or Mendeley rather than having to upload each publication individually.
EDIT 11/06/16: It’s really simple… goto your profile, click export, select all, ta-da!  
I find that Google scholar contains a more complete list of my publications.
When searching for my publications within Researchgate, I was able to “claim my profile” and it then provided many suggestions of other papers I am listed as an author however I had to sift through these, as it was also suggesting many papers with authors of similar names, which is the case also with Google scholar.

In contrast to testing new tools, I have been using LinkedIn for quite some time. I must admit I do not use it to its full potential and probably need to update my profile but it has some great features and allows you to connect with your professional network, write posts, list your publications, experience, skills and search for jobs. The difference between LinkedIn and the previously mentioned platforms is that it is designed to expand your professional network and increase your  visibility. It can be useful to get updates of the research of colleagues, but as most of the information is added manually, it is likely that many contacts do not keep this up to date. I’m not sure whether LinkedIn can be synced with the above platforms to automatically update your list of publications/skills/experience as they are added elsewhere.

Other ways to increase your impact from the Impactstory challenge include:

  • Set up an academic website
  • Science blogging
  • Social media
  • Data repository, software sharing (github), slideshare
  • Peer reviews

Finally, ORCID is another useful tool which assigns you a unique researcher identifier to allow people to find your publications using this ID. It can be beneficial if you have a common name or if you change your name. Again, I don’t yet see a way to import or sync your publications from Researchgate or Google scholar with ORCID but there are several search options, most of which require an additional account. [Edit: see edit above to export from Google scholar!]

I have had a very brief test of some of the platforms listed here. I’m sure there are numerous features which I am yet to discover. I would prefer if publications/citations could sync across the different platforms but as a basic insight into your publications, outcomes and widening your professional network, these networks might be a good starting point. For a complete list and introduction to setting up profiles, see Day 1 of the Impact challenge.

Do you use any of the above platforms? What features do you find most useful?

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