Top 4 social platforms for researchers – What, Why and How

I recently published a post on LinkedIn outlining why researchers should be using social media (post can be found here). I would now like to outline the top 4 social platforms that researchers should be using and the reasons behind this.

With so many social media platforms it can be challenging and confusing to work out what to use and how to use it. This post may help you to navigate this issue.

Researchers have highlighted many common reasons for using social media.

  • Sharing info
  • Speed of information sending and receiving
  • Recognition and exposure, Access to others work
  • engagement with other audiences (government, service provision, industry experts, policy makers, the public)
  • Building connections with funders, and industry partners
  • Self promotion and branding
  • Availability of tools to and platforms to make processes more collaborative and easier

There is no right or wrong way to use social media but its important that we learn how to use it most effectively.

1. Twitter – Get a following to increase citations

What:

Twitter is a microblogging platform that enables users to send and read 140 character messages called tweets. The tweets can include video, pictures and links. Anyone can follow and see all tweets without being “added”. There are 2.5 million active users in Australia.

Why:

When used effectively Twitter brings the information to you. new Journal issues, relevant blogs and the like. It also is powerful for sharing your own work, creating new connections, mainstream media gets a lot of their stories from social media now, and of course there is increasing evidence of getting up to 20 times more citations of your peer reviewed articles. For this you need to have a good following, be a consistent and valuable user, but its worth the effort.

How:

To use twitter effectively its best if you have an appropriate twitter handle, know the optimal tweet lengths, use hashtags properly, know when to tweet, what to tweet, use appropriate etiquette, an tweet regular interesting content. It doesn’t always have to be about you.

2. LinkedIn – Grow your network for collaborations

What:

This is a business oriented social networking service. Although it has been traditionally business oriented it contains a large number of research organisations and groups. There are currently 1.9 Million academics on LinkedIn worldwide and 3.5 Million Users in Australia.

Why:

LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for building collaborations, particularly with non-academic people and organisations which can lead to increased opportunities to source alternative funding for your research. When you start to build a network on LinkedIn you can quickly grow your network, find people working in the organisations that you want to approach and work out who you know that can connect or introduce you to the right people.

How:

Set up your LinkedIn profile, connect to people and colleagues that you already have a relationship with. Ensure you use a professional photo, and make sure your Bio is great. Put as much detail as you can into your profile so that people can get to know you. Also check out some of the great research groups and stories on LinkedIn.

3. ResearchGate

What:

ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. ResearchGate has over 5 million members in 193 countries. It was designed by and specifically for scientists, to meet their diverse needs, and is touted as facebook for academics. Membership is free but is restricted to working scientists and academics (you need an academic institution email address). The major disciplines represented in ResearchGate are biology, medicine, computer science, physics, and chemistry.

Why:

Researchers like using research gate to be found, find others and share their work. This is one place that your work will definitely be found by potential collaborators and researchers that would like to cite your work.

How:

Create your profile, upload your publications, keep your profile up to date. Make sure to check the setting so that you can be notified when people make contact with you, request or cite your paper, and when others publish papers that you may be interested in.

4. Google Scholar

What:

“Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.”

Why:

Firstly, it’s free, easy to search and easy to be found. Secondly, having a google scholar presence will allow anyone searching google to find your work. This can be valuable, particularly when the person searching may be from the policy sector, industry, government or media rather than an academic.

How:

Create your profile, add your publications, make your profile public. As with all other social sites make sure to have a good photo and bio of yourself.

Well, there you have it, the top 4 social platforms that you need to be across if you are a researcher. Remember that this is your public profile that you are creating as a research professional, key word is professional. In this day and age it’s important to build your own brand as a professional and to promote what it is you do and most importantly why you do it.

As always your comments are welcome. If you would like more advice on using social media, or developing your brand as a researcher get in touch or book a chat with me to talk further.

Tamika