More so than ever, research and its communication are happening in the digital world. Considering how much is published online every single day, it can be challenging to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Maximising the reach and visibility of your work is key to increasing citations and to creating your research identity. Below are three great ways of developing your online identity as a researcher, whether you’re starting from scratch or just wanting to enhance your current online presence.

1. Engage with your online research profiles

All of the large databases will either give you the option to create a profile (i.e., Google Scholar and Publons) or will create a profile for you when you publish (i.e. Scopus). It is important to monitor these profiles, as they can give you valuable insights into how people are using and citing your work.

It is also important to make sure the information on these profiles is correct, as occasional mistakes can happen. For example, your profile could be merged with another person who has the same or similar name as yourself. Engaging with your profiles also allows you to make sure all documents that are (or should be) indexed in a database are attributed to you!

In addition to engaging with two of the largest databases, Google Scholar and Scopus, we require all University of Essex Research staff to set up an ORCID profile, and to add this to your profile on the Research Information System (RIS). Your ORCID profile is kind of like an online CV for researchers, and is used for identifying researchers when submitting to journal articles, in grant applications and in the REF. ORCID is a great tool to keep track of not only your publications, but also all of your research activities, as you have full control. 

If you have not set up your profiles, and are not sure where to start – don’t worry! Luckily, we are here to help you manage your online research profiles or correct any mistakes you might notice. Get in touch with the Scholarly Communications and Research Support team in Library and Cultural Services if you want support via email or Zoom. 

2. Build a following on social media

Twitter can be a great place to find out about new research in your area, join academic debates, build networks with potential partners and encourage engagement with your research.

You might be wondering what to share, but by planning ahead you can use Twitter to promote new articles or books, your latest blog posts, and highlight content you think is interesting.

We recommend using Twitter to position yourself as an expert in your field, so it’s best to stick to your specialist subject area.

We would also encourage you to think about social media as a conversation so you can encourage discussions about your latest findings, your expert opinion on topical debates, research areas you’d like to explore and new publications.

Don’t forget that tweeting about the work of others in your field will help you build an effective network and show your interest in the field.

There has been some research which indicates that tweeting about your research can increase citations [], and in addition to this we think it is fundamentally a good idea to look to engage with people about your research.

Being forced to communicate through a limited number of characters also makes you concentrate on your message and hones your writing skills.

The great thing about Twitter is you can build connections with the people or organisations talking about the things you are interested in. That might be colleagues and researchers in your field; your research partners and funders, speakers at conferences; think tanks, charities, businesses and organisations that could benefit from your findings or anyone you want to connect with.

There is a lot to learn, from hashtags through to threads, and the Communications Office runs regular courses around using Twitter and can also provide a one-to-one session on getting started.

You can read more about getting started on Essex Blogs.

There are other social media channels such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. It’s worth thinking about your audience and what platforms they engage with. Our experience is that Twitter is the most popular amongst academics at the moment, but things change, and we’d love to hear your feedback if you are finding particular platforms useful.

We are finding LinkedIn is emerging as a platform which is becoming increasingly popular amongst academics, students and graduates for sharing professional news and views.

LinkedIn is once again a powerful way to build networks and make connections by sharing the right content for your audience, so we’re happy to talk you through the platform and we’ll be developing targeted training in the coming year.

3. Use your knowledge to write blogs

A great way to encourage more people to engage with your research is to write a blog about it so you can explain its significance and impact.

Blogs are online articles which look at subjects in a more personal, informal and conversational way.

The University has a blogging platform [] to make it as easy as possible to start blogging and also works closely with The Conversation, the independent news site which publishes articles from the academic and research community. You might be invited to contribute a blog on another website or there might be a blog you particularly want to write for. We are here to support you to get started on your blogging career.

Blogs are perfect places to discuss your latest research in a more informal way, but you can still link out to journal articles.

You can also discuss a project you’re leading or to share an experience which could help others – this might not directly lead to engagement with your work, but will encourage interest in finding out more when you do publish.

You can also use that content on other channels – sharing it through social media channels, in emails and highlighting in newsletters.

As with social media blogs are a great way to encourage conversations so you can show your personality, and you should aim to use language everyone will understand. 

Blogs come in lots of different formats, but a good way of thinking about your blog is that you are trying to solve a problem for the reader.

That means you are giving your audience a good reason to keep reading and also provides a good framework for your blog.

Fortunately, there are lots of blogs by academics which can give you ideas, for example, Research Whisperer.

The brilliant thing about blogs is the ability to link out to content, references, supporting evidence and of course your articles. Readers want to be taken deep into subjects and you can help them by offering the right links.

You can find out more by reading our blog about writing a blog and our blog about kickstarting your blog.

For more support around writing blogs or using social media to promote research email:

From Monday 7 February to Friday 18 February 2022, we are running a range of sessions to support you in maximising your online profiles. See the Online Research Profiles pages on the Library and Cultural Services webpages for more information!