With societal impact being one of the goals of research, asking researchers to create a brand for themselves might sound counter-intuitive. However, to create societal impact, researchers have to highlight not just their research, but also themselves. One of the benefits of doing so is to increase the visibility of the research in order to reach a wider audience.
Creating your own brand as a researcher is not a one-day journey, however. In the latest Researcher Academy webinar, Joshua Barham, winner of the 2017 Reaxys PhD prize, shared his “So, expose” strategies to build a personal brand and make your research stand out. Though Josh is a chemist, the below tips are generally relevant and applicable for researchers from most if not all disciplines.
- S - scientific conferences
Attending scientific conferences should not be a surprising recommendation for researchers as most of you will likely have some experiences on the conference circuit already. However, not necessarily all scientists know how to optimize these opportunities. Giving a presentation is the best strategy when it comes to visibility at conferences. But if you’re not yet confident enough to speak to a crowd, presenting posters is an alternative option. You can also get more exposure by participating in competitions or prizes. Such events offer valuable chances to promote your brand and expand your networks with fellow candidates and experts in the field.
- O – outreach
As the landscape for science nowadays becomes more competitive and complex globally, it is critically important for researchers to communicate as accessibly as possible – using “plain English” or the equivalent. Doing so will help clarify and amplify the significance of your work to a wider public audience, which in turn can result in more funding and recognition. Furthermore, layperson communication of research often attracts more media attention which can afford you the recognition needed to nurture your brand.
Another good practice to raise your outreach is to get involved in research funding bodies. Josh pointed to his volunteering to present the U.K.’s Royal Society of Chemistry input to a Parliamentary Select Committee as an example, as well as his posing a question to the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser. This question was later covered by the media and earned him significant publicity.
- Ex – EXPOs/equipment user perspectives
As most scientists will use some form of equipment or software for their research, there is a less common but very effective method of raising your visibility: giving your “user perspective” on the equipment at EXPOs. During these activities, you can implicitly promote your work to the industry by combining it in your presentation. Additionally, you can also volunteer to support the company’s exhibition booth before and after the presentation as it allows you to interact with industry representatives and/or other exhibitors.
In case reviewing equipment or software is not relevant to you, it is still highly recommended to attend such events as they offer a good opportunity to network with both industrial and academic audiences and benefit from exposure to academia-industry collaborations.
- P - publications
What if you’re a young scientist who is just in the early stage of your research career and whose networks are still limited? Publication is the answer! It is not only the most obvious strategy but also an especially important method as publication is the first step for almost all researchers in the journey of self-branding. Pay attention to the bibliometrics (e.g. the CiteScore or Impact Factor) of the journal you want to publish and make strategic use of the title, pictures and figures where relevant in your manuscripts as they are eye-catching and informative.
NB, though the more publications you produce, the more you are known and recognized, it is always better to prioritize the quality over quantity of your papers.
- O - organisational press releases
Another way you can effectively promote your personal brand is by means of organisational press releases. In many cases your university, company or institute will already have a well-developed audience and one which could be relevant for your future career advancement. You can either share your achievements, awards or just simply your story and interesting insights with your organisation via this channel.
- S - social media
Social media can assist researchers to profile their work, exchange ideas, results and interact with like-minded peers. The benefits of using social media are abundant but it’s important to know how to optimize its power. A great way to engage passive scrollers is using catchy, one-line questions or statements that challenge preconceptions. Including a URL link to the paper, tagging other co-authors, using hashtags, pictures and tailored language for different platforms also adds more relevance to your social posts.
Beside traditional social media platforms for researchers as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, it is worth looking into other tools for research promotion such as YouTube, Reddit, Mendey groups to share your research journey or knowledge on recent trends.
- Electronic scientific resources
Last but not least, you can increase your visibility by joining researcher networks such as Mendeley and Google Scholar. You can use such tools to promote yourself as an expert in your chosen area. By doing so, you not only cultivate your personal brand but are also contributing to academic society as a whole.
In addition to these seven key strategies, developing a personalised or group website to collect publications, media stories, etc. or giving TED talks are also potential ways to make you stand out from the crowd and nurture your personal brand.
To learn more about other insightful tips and practices, to better communicate your research and to learn how to create a brand, you can watch the full webinar recording at the Elsevier Researcher Academy. If you still have questions after doing so, do not hesitate to post in the associated Mendeley group where the team will endeavour to find expert answers for you.