Competition is fierce when it comes to forging a reputation in academia and the onus is on students and other researchers to demonstrate relevance. Self-promotion may not always come naturally, but it pays to expand the reach of your work online if you want a successful career or research program.
Qualifications are just the beginning
Masters and PhDs are now more common and do not guarantee a career in academia. Building a lasting, secure and rewarding career might mean moving beyond your comfort zone.
US figures show that those with postdoctoral degrees are often underemployed, even in the much touted STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
Whether your heart is set on teaching, research or you’re open to other paths, it takes creativity and a willingness to promote your work to get ahead in your field.
Sharing your work is essential
Being published in credible journals is important. You want your research to be seen and read by your peers and others in your industry.
When researchers at James Cook University in Australia wanted to understand what factors predict the publication success of scientists, they studied 1,400 biologists on four continents. What they discovered was surprising: scientists who publish early in their careers and publish often are most likely to achieve long-term success, regardless of where they obtained their PhD.
This suggests that consistently building momentum and your public profile is just as important as the work itself. Regular and consistent efforts to share and promote your work are essential.
Research needs real-world audiences
Promoting research data beyond academic circles is of growing importance for both individuals and research programs. Fostering a reputation for great research will not only help your career, it builds your institution’s standing and improves your team’s chances of securing future funding.
In a society where ‘post-truth’ is named 2016 Word of the Year, the ability to engender public trust in research is vital. You may put most of your energy into being published in well-read journals, but you should also complement your work and successes you achieve with professional promotional platforms.
Students and researchers cannot shy away from popular media as a means to share facts and evidence — they must embrace it, and that requires engaging people online.
How to boost the impact of your work
Promoting your work credibly means being able to control your message. Consider a targeted, stand-alone website to showcase your study in a particular area. The public is still hungry for knowledge when they can see how it impacts or improves their lives or the world they live in.
Invest in a unique Top-Level Domain to create a one-stop-shop: directing journalists, industry professionals and other academics to your own .study url to discover your research is both powerful and memorable – as well as being easy to share widely. A dedicated site allows you to offer a level of detail and customization not possible on an institutional or university site. You could provide links to articles, plain-English explanations, videos, blogs about the research process and real-world applications, or social media streams encouraging greater interaction with your work.
While the quality and significance of your work as a student or researcher will always matter, your influence will improve if you embrace self-promotion.