Congratulations! Your research has been published
The journey from starting your study to getting your paper published wasn’t easy. You have had to carefully conduct your research, write it up as an article, select the right academic journal for publication, and meticulously prepare your paper for submission. However, the journey is not over. Sharing and promoting your research is a crucial (and often overlooked) step to gaining visibility and making a bigger impact with your findings. Because the ultimate goal of research is to build upon existing knowledge and make a meaningful (and visible) contribution to the body of work in your field, reaching the right audience can be as important as the actual content itself.
With that in mind, let's look at ways in which your work can reach a wide audience and have the impact you hope for:
Pay attention to how you share your research
It's not enough to just post a link to your paper on a social media platform, for example, and expect it to be picked up by your target audience and go viral. As with commercial marketing, scholarly promotion requires thought and effort, and you must share your work in a format that is easily consumable.
What does this mean, exactly?
Your research needs to stand out and catch the audience’s eye. Visual aids are your friend here, as they are visually appealing and can be more easily absorbed than text. You can generate interest by presenting key points of your study in the form of visual aids like interactive graphs and models. Post these visual aids to relevant places such as discussion forums, social media, institutional websites, or your blog if you have one (which is highly recommended).
Make your academic article easy to search for
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a powerful means of ensuring a high rank for your article in search-engine results. Search engines create their indexes and ranks on the basis of keywords and links. The title and abstract are the first points of entry to your published article, so make sure you include relevant keywords in them. Use descriptive keywords in your image captions to lead readers to your article through image results.
Backlinking is an effective method of increasing the relevance of your article in search results. Backlinks are links to your article that appear on other websites. This means that the more places a link to your article appears, the higher it appears in search results. Use your contacts to have your article linked on relevant web pages (university sites, research blogs, and so on).
Use free sharing periods to generate maximum interest
Many journals and publications offer authors an initial period during which they can share their articles for free with peers and the general public. Highlight this opportunity on your social media and in academic circles. A common reason why readers may not get to your article is a reluctance to pay for access (perhaps they lack an organisational subscription). The free-access period enables you to get around this paywall for a limited period, and if you manage to generate sufficient interest in your research, other scholars are more likely to consider paying to read your article.
Reach out to like-minded academics and organisations
Consider the scholars and research bodies that would be interested in your work, and reach out to them. The simplest way is to contact the authors you have cited in your article and share the news of your study and its contributions with them. A citation of their work is likely to encourage other scholars to share and promote your article in their academic and social circles, generating wider reach.
The next step is to ask your institution whether they would be interested in mentioning your work in official press releases and periodicals. Having your work included under an organisational banner will give it more credibility and increase the chances of people reading it, thus creating a greater impact.
Consider paying for easier access to your article
If you or your institution possesses the required funding or resources, consider publishing your article in open-access or hybrid journals. As mentioned above, the absence of a paywall is an enormous boost to the likelihood of readers getting through to your article. If you combine free or low-cost access with the appropriate SEO, it will result in markedly improved readership. These readers are likely to then share your work in their own circles and highlight the lack of a subscription requirement, resulting in greater interest and visibility.
Use social media and blogs to publicise your work
Social media platforms are effective tools for gaining visibility. Build a credible and strong presence on social media; for example, update your LinkedIn profile with your skills and list of publications. A stronger profile will result in higher consideration from your virtual circle when you post about your latest publication.
One of the best ways to get your work recognised is posting it to the relevant listservs, Facebook/LinkedIn groups, H-Net groups, and so on within your research field. Academics with similar interests will be more inclined to take an interest in your work and share news about it with others. This requires you to be active in these fora and positively engage with the members to build a reputation.
If you are new to the mechanics of social media, Twitter is an excellent place to start. It is easy to set up and enables concise and effective conversations with your audience without requiring too much involvement. As a bonus measure, complete the Twitter verification process to enhance your perception among your followers.
Consider translating your publication for the non-English-speaking academic community
An academic translation of your publication helps open doors to a wider audience and is the first step to building your reputation in the international academic scene. However, translation is more than just rendering your work in a different language. It is important to consider the culture, mindset, and knowledge of the new target audience.
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