Research visibility matters. It is key to optimising the reach of our research, and the citations that can result from increased research visibility can signal the extent to which our ideas have been taken up by, and shaped the thinking and behaviour of, others around the world. Research visibility may be indicated through citations, impact, altmetrics and more – no single measure is fully comprehensive.
Essex researchers routinely produce world-leading, transformative projects that change lives and we want our researchers to be as widely read and celebrated as possible. Reflecting our commitment to the responsible use of metrics, and as signatories of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), we do not conflate research visibility with research quality.
This means that we carefully consider the metrics we use, what they actually measure, and what that can tell us about our research. Maximising the visibility of our research across a plurality of indicators is fundamental to our research reputation, which is core to the University’s global presence and success. And crucially, of course, research visibility is a key means of creating pathways to impact. These are just some of the reasons why research visibility is an institutional priority.
In recent years, the University of Essex has had a focus on good practice and the small steps individuals can take to increase the reach of their work. By carefully thinking ahead when publishing and sharing work, and by incorporating small actions into normal routines, researchers can make it much easier for their work to be discovered.
So, how do you make sure your research stands out and is easy to find? Here are five things you can do to help others find and use your research.
Once your publications are online, you will have an online presence whether you engage with it or not. Taking steps to manage your online identity gives you control, so you can make sure the information is correct and well presented. This can make it easier for others to discover additional publications you have authored, or to find your profiles by searching for research areas and topics.
Google Scholar and ORCID are two key profiles for increasing research visibility. These are both profiles you will need to set up and manage yourself.
When setting up a Google Scholar profile, make sure you verify your profile using your Essex.ac.uk email address to add the University of Essex as an affiliation. You should also add research areas to make your profile easier to discover.
ORCID is an online identifier for researchers, and is almost like an online CV. You can link your ORCID with other databases so that information is pulled across automatically. You can also add publications manually if they are not found by the system. Having an ORCID is now a requirement for many publishers and grant applications, and it also is an excellent way of heightening the visibility of your research and activities.
In addition to managing your Google Scholar and ORCID profiles, we also recommend that you check if you have a Scopus profile and if the information appearing on that profile is correct. Please note that Scopus is a database of peer reviewed literature, and so there will be differences between what appears on your Scopus profile and your Google Scholar profile.
For more information about online research profiles, including short videos and written how-to guides, head to our Online Research Profiles guide.
A key way to ensure someone can use and cite your work is to make sure they can actually access it!
If your work is published behind a paywall, it can create barriers for those who are interested in using it. By publishing open access, you ensure immediate access to the work, meaning the reader can make use of it instantly.
Publishing open access is also a requirement for the Research Excellence Framework (REF), as journal articles and conference papers must be deposited in the repository within three months of acceptance to be REF-eligible. Generally at Essex, we ask that research is made as open as possible, and as closed as necessary. You can read more in the University’s Open Research Position Statement.
To support our researchers with open access, we have signed a range of deals with publishers that enable Essex authors to publish open access in a multitude of the highest quality journals without paying an Article Processing Charge (APC). We also have an institutional fund that can pay APCs in fully gold open access journals which aren’t covered by these deals, and open access journals with no fees can be found by using the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
Read more about how the institution can support you in making your work open access on our Open Access Publishing page.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a technique for increasing the likelihood of webpages being surfaced in searches, and focuses on using keywords.
Why is this relevant for research? For some search engines, like Google, you can influence the likelihood of your work appearing towards the top of the search with smart use of SEO. This is something you need to do when you write your paper, and in particular your title, abstract and keywords.
Carefully consider the words you are using in your title, and make sure these are the most relevant to your research. Vague titles that use very generic words have a lesser chance of being surfaced in a search, meaning your research is less likely to be discovered ‘by accident’.
Make sure the words from your title are repeated in the abstract, several times if possible. Repetition of a certain word strengthens the relationship between your publication and that specific word, which again makes it more likely that your paper will appear at the top of a search.
You can also add additional keywords when you submit your paper to the publisher. It helps to think about other languages (for example US or British spelling differences), and other words or phrases people might be searching for when looking for research similar to your work.
Published your work? Congratulations! Now is the time to think about how you can share your publication more widely. This can be as small as sharing your work on social media, or going to a conference to present your work to your network.
Actively sharing your publications more widely gives them that visibility boost – just remember to choose the right channels. If you don’t already know, figure out where your network and target audience is spending time, and direct your efforts into those places.
If you want to track engagement with your work, you can use Altmetric to see how your research is being shared and talked about in the news, on social media, and in policy documents. Just remember to use the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or URL to the published version when you share it, in order for Altmetric to track the engagement!
Collaborations, and especially international collaborations, attract more attention and have more networks to tap into when sharing your work. Collaborations can also allow you to combine expertise from other fields, which could strengthen the research questions, methods, and ultimately findings or theories within your research.
There are several ways you can find potential collaborators. For example, you can track citations to your work, and see who is citing you. There might be a researcher or research group who have consistent interest in your work that you could reach out to.
A lot of networking can also be done at conferences, where you often have more time and space to discuss ideas and explore what potential working relationships would be like before collaborating.
If you are interested in contributing to large, multi-country collaborations, you can engage with existing international networks that have open applications where you can offer your expertise, for example the Global Burden of Disease Network. You might also take advantage of existing datasets and tap into the community surrounding these, such as Understanding Society, which is the UK Household Longitudinal Study based at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex.
Having just explored five ways of increasing research visibility, it seems like the right time to highlight that in 2022 the University of Essex launched a new Research and Impact Award: Research Visibility Champion Award. The award was given to researchers who had significantly showcased a dedication to increasing the reach of their own research, setting a good example for researchers around them to improve their research visibility. There was one winner from each Faculty, and the three winners were:
Faculty of Arts and Humanities: Dr Alexandros Antoniou
Dr Alexandros Antoniou from the School of Law has actively sought ways to increase the research visibility of his own work, as well as the research from the School of Law through his post as Research Visibility Lead. In particular, Dr Alexandros Antoniou has taken steps to sharing his work further by publishing on platforms like The Conversation, The International Forum for Responsible Media (INFORRM) and the database of Council of Europe’s European Audiovisual Observatory. He is also the managing editor of the Essex Law Research (‘ELR’) blog, which focuses on showcasing the excellent research from scholars from the School of Law at the University of Essex.
Faculty of Social Sciences: Professor Meena Kumari
Professor Meena Kumari from Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) is an expert on research methodology for the collection of biological data in large scale studies and the preparation for such data for research. Professor Meena Kumari has put considerable energy into the development and utilisation of networks, both in terms of her own research and that of her Essex research team. Her proactive approach to networking and collaboration is evident in her citation metrics, such as her Google Scholar profile, where she has been cited 52,480 times – 32,369 of these citations are since 2017. Professor Meena Kumari was also listed as a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher in 2018, which is a huge achievement in terms of research visibility.
Faculty of Science and Health: Dr Miroslav Sirota
Dr Mirolav Sirota from the Psychology Department leads the Open Science Working Group at Essex which is also a founding member of The UK Network of Open Science Working Groups. Dr Miroslav Sirota has been leading the implementation of open science in the department and contributes to and encourages large-scale collaborations, which has enhanced the department’s research outputs (in terms of high-quality outlets and citations), research reputation and REF2021 research environment statement. As a result of his activities, our research has become more open, visible and transparent. This is evident in the significant increase in data made publicly available by staff, from 18.6% in 2016 to 54.7% in 2020.
If you have felt inspired by this post, but are still unsure how to start increasing your research visibility or would like more tailored information about the above issues, please contact the Scholarly Communications and Research Support Team within Library and Cultural Services. You can email email@example.com to book a one-to-one session, or to ask any questions you might have. We’re always happy to help!