Monday, 10 August 2015

Impact Challenge Archives


Impact Challenge Day 9: find your community on Twitter

The next two days of the Impact Challenge will cover the biggest social media platforms on the planet: Twitter and Facebook.
Twitter is a microblogging site with 560 million active users, and more than 1 in 40 researchers are reportedly active on the site.
Scientists who use Twitter tend to be effusive in their
praise: Twitter helps them stay on top of news in their field, find new
publications, get speaking and publishing opportunities, communicate
their research directly to the public, and–perhaps most importantly–find
a sense of community. In fact, among researchers who use social media
in a professional context, 83% declared Twitter to be the most useful tool they use.
Today, we’ll explore Twitter’s usefulness for you.
We’ll get you onto the site, engaging others, finding the best sources
of information in your field, and measuring the diffusion of your
research among other researchers and the public.

Sign up

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Creating a Twitter account is dead simple: logon to and sign up for an account.
On the next screen, you’ll be prompted by Twitter to choose
a handle–make it similar to your blog handle or your name, so your
professional “brand” matches across platforms.
Complete the rest of the setup steps–find other users to
follow and connect your email account to import other contacts–then head
to your email to confirm your account.
All done? Now it’s time to do the important stuff.

Personalize your account

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First, add a photo to your “avatar” by clicking the blue
camera icon in the upper left-hand corner, next to your name. Make it
simple by adding the same photo that you used for LinkedIn or your
website; it’s easy change if you want to add another photo in the
Next, add a short bio. This is your chance to explain who you are in 160 characters or less. LSE Impact Blog recommends
stating your experience and research interests, university or
organizational affiliation, and a link to your blog. We also recommend
adding a few hashtags (more on those in a moment) that can connect you
to other users with similar interests across the platform. For example,
I’ve added “#libraries #altmetrics #craftbeer” to my bio.
To add your bio, click on your username beside your avatar
and on your profile page, click the “Edit Profile” button the right-hand
side of your profile. There, you can add your bio and a link to your
blog or website.
Got your basic account set up? Now it’s time to start engaging with other scientists and the public.

Find people to follow

Twitter users share research articles, news, and tidbits
about their lives on a daily basis. Your next step is to find users who
share your interests and to “follow” them to start receiving their
Twitter tries to make it as easy as possible for you to
find other people to follow via the “Who to Follow” panel on the
righthand side of your profile, seen above. Their recommendations are
usually either spot on (you can see above they’ve suggested OpenScience for me) or completely off the mark (they suggested WomensHealthMag
to me based only on the fact that I’m female and that I selected
“Health” as one of my interests upon signing up–under the mistaken
assumption that “Health” = “Healthcare”). The more people you follow,
though, the better their system gets at finding you new suggestions.
Click on the “View all” link in the “Who to follow” panel to get a long
list of suggested users.
Another great way to find people to follow is to search
Twitter for particular interests. From any page on Twitter, type a
keyword into the Search box at the upper right-hand corner of the page.
On the results page, click “People” in the left-hand navigation bar to
narrow the results to Twitter users who match your interest.
You can see here that I’ve searched for the term
“bioinformatics” and narrowed the results to include Twitter users who
match that term:
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Read through the search results, keeping an eye out for familiar
names and interesting bios. When you find a user you want updates from,
click the “Follow” button to the right of their bio. Now, when you’re on
your homepage you’ll see their recent updates:

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There are several other good ways to find people to follow:

  • Take a look at who others are following (on their profile, click “Following”) and follow them,
  • Find curated Twitter Lists on the profiles of those you follow, like these lists for Scientists and STEM Academics (click “Lists” on their profile pages, then scan the lists they’ve created to find ones relevant to your area of research), and
  • Watch the updates on your Twitter homepage for unfamiliar
    names–chances are that someone has “retweeted” (shared someone else’s
    update with their audience) a user that you’d be interested in getting
    updates from.
Try to follow at least twenty colleagues and organizations
in your field to begin with, and take some time to read through each
user’s “timeline” (updates on their profile page) to learn more about
them and their interests. You’re going to start chatting with your
colleagues in our next step.

Making connections on Twitter

Now we get into the meat of the challenge: making connections with others in your field.
One of the things that makes Twitter so great is that it is
a no-pressure forum to spark conversations with your colleagues about a
variety of topics, including but not limited to your shared area of
study. Twitter also helps you find members of the public who are
interested in your area of study.
Researchers who participated in a recent study of academics’ use of social media reportedly appreciate Twitter because:
  • ‘Love the ability to chat to colleagues on Twitter, better than
    seeing each other just once a year at conferences and actually I have
    “met” people on Twitter before meeting them IRL at conference.’
  • ‘My focus is science outreach to general audiences. These formats
    [Facebook, Twitter, Storify] are easy to use and my audiences are there.
    It helps me disseminate information about science, science news and the
    process of science to broader audiences.’
  • ‘Twitter allows me to make connections to folks that I would not otherwise have – journalists, policy professionals.’
You’re going to engage with others by tweeting at
them–writing short messages that either respond to one of their updates,
ask questions, or share information with them. Let’s talk now about
what makes for good “tweeting.”

Basics of composing a tweet

Tweets are the 140 character messages that users compose to
update others on a variety of things: their opinions on a study, recent
news, a thought-provoking blog post, and so on. You can write anything
in your updates, and attach photos and location information, too.
Some things you might want to share with others include:
  • recent papers in your field (both papers you’ve written and others’ articles)
  • news and blog posts relevant to your discipline (science policy,
    funding announcements, articles from Nature News, New Scientist, the
    Impactstory blog, and your other favorite sources of information)
  • your opinion on developments in your field, others’ research, and so on (don’t be afraid to (respectfully) rock the boat)
  • a funny thing that happened in your lab, at a conference, or in the classroom
  • happenings from your personal life (are you enjoying your vacation?
    Did you meet a wallaby for the first time in your life? Are you proud of
    your most recent 5k race time?)
No matter what you tweet about, there are some basic things
you can do to make your tweets more interesting to others (and thus
more likely to be shared via a retweet):
  • use hashtags (a word or phrase that follows the “#” sign, like “#scicomm” or “#tenure”)
  • attach a photo to your tweet (when composing a tweet, click the “Add photo” camera icon and upload a picture from your computer),
  • consider following the 5-3-2 rule:
    social media experts recommend that for every 10 updates you post, 5
    should be content from others that are relevant to your followers, 3
    should be professional content, and 2 should be personal updates
When in doubt, just remember to keep it professional and you can’t really go wrong.

Tweeting at conferences

Now that you’re tweeting, let’s explore some of the benefits (and drawbacks) to tweeting at conferences.
Some academics swear by tweeting at conferences, because it
provides an easy way to learn new things and meet new people by
following and participating in conversations. As Bik & Goldstein explain,
Tweeting from conferences
(discussing cutting-edge research developments, linking to journal
articles or lab websites, e.g., …) can introduce other scientists to
valuable content, and consequently provide networking opportunities for
users who actively post during meetings…Journalists and scientists
following a conference tweet stream may be additionally introduced to
new groups of researchers (particularly early-career scientists or those
scientists who are new to Twitter) with relevant and related interests;
conference tweeting can thus serve to enhance in-person networking
opportunities by expanding these activities to online spheres.
Further, Jonathan Lawson points out
that it allows students and early career researchers, in particular, to
participate in a “backchannel” that’s not dominated by the most
established researchers, like the conferences themselves sometimes are.
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The next time you’re attending a conference, find out what
the meeting’s hashtag is, and then search for and follow it to “listen
in” on the conversation. (We searched for and followed tweets for #EuroSciPy, at right.) A popular way to follow conference hashtags is TweetChat, which filters out the non-conference tweets in your timeline, making conference-related tweets easier to follow.
And when you’re ready to participate, you can add your
voice by writing tweets that include the conference hashtag. When you’re
listening to a talk, summarize the main points for your followers, add your own commentary to the speaker’s, and share related papers and websites. Just make sure you have the presenters’ permission to tweet about their talk; some would prefer to keep their findings off the internet until they have published on them.
You can also tweet using the conference hashtag to organize
informal “tweetups”, which can help build relationships and ward off
boredom in unfamiliar cities (“Invigorated after Stodden’s great
keynote! Anyone up for grabbing a coffee before the reception to talk
about it? #meeting2014”).
For more “how to’s” on conference tweeting, check out SouthernFriedScience’s primer on tweeting at conferences.

Measuring your success

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Twitter’s new Analytics dashboard can help you measure the success of your outreach efforts.

Logon to Twitter Analytics and review your latest tweets
that share links to your blog or your papers. On the dashboard view
(pictured above), you’ll see all of your tweets and a summary of your
impressions and engagements.
The number of impressions are time your tweets appeared on
someone’s timelines. The number of engagements are the number of times
your tweets have been retweeted, clicked through, or clicked on to learn
more information about what you shared. They help you measure the
amount of exposure you’re receiving and others’ interest in what you’re
tweeting, respectively.
The dashboard view is good at summarizing your impressions
and engagements over various time periods. The default view is for the
past 28 days, but you can click the calendar button in the upper right
hand corner to select a date range of your choosing–useful if you want
to see what effect tweeting at a conference had upon the amount of
exposure you’re getting, for example.
To see the drill-down engagement metrics for a specific tweet, click on the tweet. You’ll see something like this:
Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 6.02.31 PM.png
In addition to simple engagement and impression metrics, LSE Impact Blog also recommends recording the following:

At the end of each month,
Twitter can be used as a painless metric to assess how your tweeting is
working for you and your project. Showing the growth in your followers
and the number of people who read your research blog can also be helpful
for funding applications. You could make short notes on the following:
    • The number of followers you have
    • The names of those who could be useful for future collaboration
    • Invitations to write blog posts or speak at events, which have come via Twitter
    • Number of hits to your own blog posts via Twitter
Over time, you can build upon what you’ve learned from your
Twitter metrics, tweeting more content that your followers will love,
in a manner that will engage them the most.


Twitter is, like many of the other platforms we’ve covered
so far, a for-profit company. Though it’s technically free to use, you
pay for your account by allowing Twitter show ads in your timeline and access and sell your personal data to other companies.
Twitter has also recently announced plans to experiment
with users’ timelines, meaning that the uncensored, time-based updates
you see on your homescreen could soon be replaced with updates selected by an algorithm. That’s something that Facebook currently does, and it led to a near blackout on updates for its users about one of the biggest news items of the year in the US: the Ferguson protests.
What could it mean for you? Well, if Twitter’s future
algorithms inadvertently decide that your tweets about H1N1 studies or
field research or science funding aren’t compelling to your users, it
could remove them from others’ homepages, killing potential
conversations and connections.


For today’s homework, you’re going to find other researchers to engage and begin tweeting in earnest.
We recommend following 20 people to begin with, adding a
few each day using the techniques described above (keyword searches,
Twitter lists, and following researchers that your colleagues are
following). Aim to follow at least 100 people by the end of the month.
In the next few days, as you start to get a few followers,
take some time to learn more about them. Using the Twitter Analytics
“Followers” dashboard, check out their interests, what countries your
followers are tweeting from, and who else they’re following–this can be a
great source of new people to follow!
Finally, commit to tweeting at least 20 times over the next
week. It will help populate your timeline, which will make others more
likely to follow you. Share at least one of your own blog posts, one of
your articles, and engage someone else in conversation.
If tweeting that often seems like a lot–don’t worry! The
day after next, we’ll show you how to automate your social media updates
using tools like Buffer and Tweetdeck. But first, we’ll cover whether
using Facebook in a professional context is right for you during
tomorrow’s Impact Challenge.

Impact Challenge Day 8: promote your research with Kudos

far we’ve covered several ways to promote your work among your
colleagues, but how can you better promote your work to the public?
The public is increasingly interested in the results of
taxpayer-funded research, and the government agencies who fund you want
to know your “broader impacts”. What can you do about it?  Getting your
work in front of those who understand what you do can be difficult
enough; how can you expect laypeople to see it and, more importantly, to “get it”?
Nowadays, there are a lot of platforms available that can help you promote your work. One of your options is Kudos. Kudos
is a for-profit company built to help researchers explain their studies
to both the public and others in their field. And yet, its customers
aren’t authors but publishers.
Kudos’ customer list includes both toll-access and open
access publishers, including eLife, Elsevier, the Royal Society of
Chemistry. Publishers pay Kudos to get access to premium features for
their authors. But anyone can sign up for free and use Kudos’ basic
promotion and analytics tools to learn if others are reading and
discussing their work online.
Today, we’ll help you check out Kudos as a tool for promoting your papers. Let’s dig in.

Sign up for an account

Head to
and click the “Register” button in the upper right-hand corner. On the
next screen, add as much professional information as possible, including
your ORCID ID–this will help Kudos automatically find your articles in
the next step. When you’ve entered all your information, click the green
“Sign up” button, and then login to your email to confirm your account.

Claim your publications

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Next, Kudos will list publications it believes to be yours. Add them
to your profile by clicking the green button beside each title. If you
make a mistake, you can always “unclaim” the paper by clicking the
button again.

If any of your publications are missing, you can search for them by title or by adding a DOI.
Are all of your papers added? Great, let’s move on.

Explain your publications

Now, we get to the useful part of Kudos’ platform: explaining your articles.
All of the following steps will help those outside of your
field better understand your research and why it’s important. This is an
important but time-intensive part of the outreach process. So, you’ll
likely just want to do the following for three or four of your papers
that you need the most help promoting to the public.

Short title

Some paper titles can end up being long and jargon-filled.
Adding a short title can help make your paper more discoverable by
others in your field and beyond.
When writing your short title, try to strike a balance
between phrases that your target audience will search for and phrases
that are easy for your those outside of your core audience to understand. The LSE Impact Blog recommends “a full ‘narrative title’ that clearly summarizes the substance of what the article argues or what has been found out.”
So, this title (“Quindolinocryptotackieine:
the elucidation of a novel indoloquinoline alkaloid structure through
the use of computer-assisted structure elucidation and 2D NMR”) might
end up looking more like this (“A computer-aided exploration of a new
indoloquinoline alkaloid structure, quindolinocryptotackieine”) when

Lay summary

This is your chance to explain the study in detail, with
public engagement in mind. Why does your research matter, and where does
it fit in the bigger picture? Overall, try to avoid jargon, keep your
sentences simple, and answer the question that’s inevitably in your
readers’ heads: “What’s in it for me?”
More information on writing lay summaries can be found on the Digital Curation Centre and Asthma UK websites.

Impact statement

Kudos describes the Impact Statement section as “an
explanation of what is most unique and/or timely about your work, and
what difference it might make.” This is your chance to go into more
detail about why your study was worth publishing about. How did it
expand upon previous studies? What problems did it solve for the world?
How might your readers’ lives be affected by the outcome?

Add links to supplemental materials and rich media

If you have figures, a video, or any other type of
supplemental material, add links to each paper in this step. Creating
these backlinks can help up your papers’ ranking in search results, and
those supplemental materials can help your readers better understand
your papers.

Share your papers

Next, you’re going to share your papers with your colleagues and the public.
On your publication page, click the green “Share now”
button in the middle of the page. You’ll next be prompted to post your
paper to Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere online using a special Kudos
URL that includes a tracking code. The code will help you measure how
often that link to your paper has been clicked on, which in turn will
measure the effectiveness of Kudos’ outreach mechanisms.
If you want to share your paper to Twitter and Facebook,
connect those services to Kudos. If you’d prefer to share it via email,
on your shiny new blog, or elsewhere on the Web, choose the “Share Online” option and then select what kind of trackable URL you want to use.

Measure the success of your outreach

In addition to the trackable Kudos URL that you’ve now
shared on the Web, you can discover the level of attention your work has
received overall via Kudos’ integration with
Here’s how to access your metrics: on any page for your
publications, click on the blue “Publication Metrics” button to see a
table of your articles and the attention they’ve received online. There
are two types of metrics you can see on this table: Kudos-specific
metrics and metrics.
Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 6.37.57 PM.png

Kudos metrics

Kudos reports the number of share referrals, Kudos views,
click throughs, and full-text downloads your paper has received. These
metrics really only tell you about the success of promoting your paper
on Kudos–they’re unable to tell you how often your paper has been shared
using other links and DOIs.
Nonetheless, Kudos users do find these metrics useful–they helped this scientist see a definite bump in full-text downloads after he claimed one of his papers. metrics

These metrics can tell you about the attention your work
has received on the Web overall–to a limited extent. Currently,
Kudos lists the score–a weighted sum of your news
coverage, blog posts, Twitter mentions, and other online shares and
mentions your work has received.
We’re not big fans of this score because the exact weights
are not published, making it difficult to interpret. A better option is
to click the “More Details” icon to the immediate right of  any of your
papers’ titles to drill-down into what specific types of attention your
article has received online. That said, the score can be used with
caution to get a quick overview of which of your articles are getting
more online attention than others. We’ll talk more later in the Impact
Challenge about how to get more useful, in-depth, and transparent
metrics of impact from, Impactstory, and other sources.


While Kudos makes it easy to claim papers, other features
are more time consuming. The biggest drawback is the amount of time
needed to write short titles, lay summaries, and impact statements for
each of your articles.
There’s no way around it–you’ll have to put in some serious
thought to write ‘em, and that translates to a lot of time. So, you’ll
likely want to only write those titles, summaries, and impact statements
for the papers you most want to have public exposure.
We also have reservations about the Kudos business model.
It has pros and cons, for sure: it’s free to researchers (pro), but it’s
primarily supported by publishers’ money, which means that researchers’
needs may not always be their top priority (con).
Another con is that in the Kudos model, promotion of
publishers’ content becomes a responsibility of the authors, rather than
publishers’ marketing teams. That said, your promotion efforts also
help you, and Kudos provides a solid framework to guide you–a definite


You may have noticed the number of big fat “X”s that I currently have on my Kudos Author Dashboard:
Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 6.37.57 PM.png
That’s Kudos’ way of telling me what promotion and outreach steps remain for my papers.

Your homework is to get at least three of your papers that
you think might garner the most public interest onto Kudos, and to turn
most of your “X”s into check marks. If you don’t yet have a Twitter or
use your Facebook account professionally, that’s fine–just be sure to
share your paper via email and blog about it. You’re also welcome to
share a Kudos link to one or more of your papers in the comments below.
As for Twitter and using Facebook professionally–those are your two next challenges. See you back here tomorrow!
Updated 11/11/14: edited to explain how to find drill-down metrics for score.

Impact Challenge Day 7: Establish your expertise with a science blog

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In today’s challenge, we’ll create a virtual watercooler for you to
meet colleagues and debate research in your field. How? On your very own

A blog can help you establish expertise, forge new
intellectual bonds in your discipline, and give you a place to test out
new ideas and promote your research. And it’s surprisingly easy to
maintain if you set it up right.
Let’s get cracking!

Choose a platform

First things first: let’s pick the technology you’ll use to blog.
One popular option is WordPress. WordPress comes in both open source and hosted
flavors. If you use the former, you’ll have complete control over the
look and feel of your blog, but also the responsibility for installing
and maintaining the code on your website. The latter is better for those
who aren’t as technically inclined or who worry less about the ability
to control their blog’s appearance. For either option, WordPress offers
an easy-to-use editing interface, solid analytics, and well-designed
themes and plugins.
The Jekyll platform
is a cult favorite that’s used by many tech-savvy, GitHub-lovin’
academics. It offers near-infinite flexibility of design, the ability to
write posts in Markdown, and easy installation for those already on
GitHub Pages. It doesn’t come with analytics out of the box, though, so
you’ll have to install a separate plugin for Google Analytics. For a full guide to setting up Jekyll, check out this Smashing Magazine piece.
Two other blogging platforms are popular among academics: Medium and Tumblr. Both are free to use. Medium is very easy to setup, offers a sleek design, and helps promote your posts among other Medium readers.
The latter feature means that you won’t necessarily have control over
what posts are promoted on your blog, however, which is a drawback.
Tumblr is similarly simple to set up, offers a more customizable design than Medium, and is well-suited for image-based research blogging–appealing
to informaticists who use data visualizations, those who want to blog
about figures, and so on. A downside of the platform is that it’s most
popular with teens and early twenty-somethings, so it could be difficult
to find a community of established scientists on the platform.
You might be wondering, “Where’s the Blogger recommendation?”
While Blogger is an out-of-the-box blogging platform that’s similar to
WordPress in many ways, in my opinion it doesn’t offer the flexibility
of design, easy website integration and domain name registration, or
usability that WordPress does. That said, it is used by prolific
academic bloggers like Jonathan Eisen and Tanya Golash-Boza. You’re welcome to test it out for yourself!
Once you’ve chosen your platform, go ahead and set up your blog. Here are some tips for doing so:
  • You’ll have to register for a blog handle if you’re using WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr ( If you don’t have a catchy blog title in mind, feel free to choose your name–it’ll help people find you!
  • If you’d prefer to have a catchy name for your blog, brainstorm some ideas. Some fun and informative blog handles I like are “Pharyngula,” “Freakonometrics,” and “Thread & Circuits.”
  • Create the look and feel you want for your blog, choosing a theme for your WordPress or Jekyll blog that matches your tastes. You might also consider choosing a theme based on its SEO-optimization.
Got your blog set up and ready to roll? Now it’s time to decide what you’re going to write.

Possible uses for your blog

There are a few ways that academics tend use their blogs:
to publicize their own work, to discuss others’ research, or some
combination of the two. Here are some examples.

Spreading the word about your research

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Jonathan Eisen is famous for (among other reasons) using his blog to spread the word about his own research.
Back in 2011, he published a paper in PLOS ONE.
Normally, academics will use their university’s press office to explain
their publications’ significance to the media and the public; Eisen
decided he wanted to tell the story of his study himself. So, he took to his blog.
The study picked up a lot of press coverage (including the The Economist and New Scientist), received more views and altmetrics compared to other PLOS ONE
papers published in the same discipline and year, and–best of
all–allowed the person who was best acquainted with the research to talk
about it with the world.
Another option is to blog about your in-progress work. Blogs are excellent for engagement,
and can be useful to get feedback from your peers on challenging
problems or new ways to view your results. Be careful not to scoop
yourself, though–if you plan to formally publish on a study, you might
consider waiting on reporting your final results.

Commenting on others’ research

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Many academics use their blogs as a form of
post-publication peer review, offering their feedback on recent
publications in their field.
Rosie Redfield is among the most famous to do so, having written a stellar take-down of the over-hyped “arsenic life” paper
that was published in 2010. Her blog allowed her to respond to the
article within days of its publication. (Compare that to the two years
it took for her formal response article to be published!) That speed,
along with the fact that she can engage rapidly and often with her
readers via the blog’s comments section, makes blogging an excellent
forum for post-publication peer review.

What else can you do with your blog?

You can use it for advocacy, editorializing, and event promotion, among many other things. The sky’s the limit!

Decide on a posting schedule and stick to it

Got an idea of what you want to blog about? Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to blog.
Many “blogging for beginners” guides recommend setting a
posting schedule for yourself. That can be once a week, once a month, or
however often you can manage.
Why do you want a schedule? Regular posts are key to having
an audience that’ll return to your blog. And having a framework to work
from keeps you organized in the rest of your life.
Key to finding a schedule that works for you is having
realistic expectations about the amount of time it’ll take you to
research and write a blog post. And that will depend upon what you’ve
decided to blog about.
Write one or two posts to start out with, timing how long
it takes for each. (You can expect that number to go down over time, as
you get better at writing more quickly.) Then, look at your schedule and
see how often you can spare that chunk of time. That’s your posting

Brainstorm posts in advance

Got your schedule decided upon? Now it’s time to make life
easier on your future-self by brainstorming a boatload of post ideas at
Starting a blog can be intimidating because it’s hard to
imagine that you’ll have things to write about on a regular basis.
Having this master list of ideas that you can return to again and again
is reassuring. It also makes it much easier to stick to your blogging
In addition to interesting topics, recently published
papers, and personal updates on your research, some other easy wins can
be found by repurposing stuff you’re doing in the rest of your life into
“low-cost” posts. As computer scientist Matt Might explains,
The secret to low-cost academic blogging is to make blogging a natural byproduct of all the things that academics already do.
  • Doing an interesting lecture? Put your lecture notes in a blog post.
  • Writing a detailed email reply? “Reply to public” with a blog post.
  • Answering the same question a second time? Put it in a blog post.
  • Writing interesting code? Comment a snippet into a post.
  • Doing something geeky at home? Blog about what you learned.
Aim to come up with at least 50 post topics before moving onto the next step: writing headlines that will snag readers.

Write effective headlines

Headlines are your best way to get a piece of your readers’
limited attention bandwidth. Some keys to writing headlines that work, according to the blogging experts at Buffer:
  • Put the most compelling stuff in the first and last three words of
    your headline (research tells us that most readers will only absorb that
  • Keep your headlines to 50-ish characters or less, so it won’t get truncated by search engines
  • Use psychology to compel people to read your post (headlines that are surprising, ask questions, super-specific or follow these other principles are proven effective)
So what does this look like in reality? Here are some examples:
  • Why are vegans the best lab workers? (asks question, follows “6-word” principle, element of surprise)
  • 5 ways Mike Eisen’s dead wrong about Open Access (specific, follows “6-word” principle, element of surprise)
  • How I landed a postdoc gig without even trying (tells readers “how to”, piques curiosity)
A surefire way to keep your readers hooked, no matter what,
is making sure your blog posts’ titles matches each’s content. If
they’re too obtuse or “click-baity”, people will stop clicking through
to read your blog.
Remember: practice makes perfect. Writing good headlines is
hard work. That’s why people get paid to do it for a living! You’ll
likely write and re-write a headline several times before you find one
that resonates with you.

Make your posts more popular with images

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 10.24.12 AM.png
Images can help break up blocks of text, making your posts more readable (and thus more popular). And they also can help illustrate your points.
Aside from blogging images found in papers you’re reviewing
or that you’ve created, my number one recommended place to find free
images is the Flickr Creative Commons search (though sometimes there’s a lot of chaff that needs separating out). Buffer has also compiled a list of other free and public domain images you can use in your posts.

Learn about your readers

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 5.57.34 PM.png
Your final task is to set up an analytics service so you can learn about your readers.
Two popular options, Google Analytics and WordPress’s built-in statistics package,
can tell you how many visitors your blog has received, what countries
they’re coming from, what websites and search engines led them to your
blog, what posts they’re reading, and much more.
Google Analytics, in particular, can be overwhelming to
use–it’s a powerful tool that can seem like overkill for the novice.
CUNY’s Academic Commons blog has a great starter guide to the service.


Your homework is deceptively simple: choose from among the
blog topics you’ve brainstormed and write a post with a great headline.
Seriously–that’s it!
We’ll see you back here on Monday to talk about publication self-promotion platform Kudos.

Impact Challenge Day 6: Create an academic website

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 3.16.34 PM.png
Over the past five days, you’ve set up profiles on a variety of
professional social networking platforms. Today, we’re going to create
the hub that will bring them all together: a professional website.

You might already have a university-issued webpage, perhaps
linked to your departmental website. They’re all right for showcasing
basic information about you, but they often do your research a
Because of their rigid formatting and style requirements,
you  often can’t link out to your full text publications, showcase
scholarship that’s not shaped like an article, or add the number of
articles and other scholarly products that best explains your career.
And the other important things you do–teaching, mentoring, service, and
so on? You often can’t showcase them at all.
Today, we’re going to help you create a flexible website
that will easily bring together all of your identities. You’ll learn how
to embed and automate content so you don’t have to constantly update
your website. And we’ll get you started with recommendations for both
DIY and “plug and play” website hosts that offer solid search engine
optimization to–you guessed it–increase your “googleability.”

Choosing a hosting solution

If you’re lucky, your institution offers a free hosting
solution. For those who don’t have access to free hosting, let’s cover
your options.
Now, there are basic hosting solutions like Hostgator,
Dreamhost, etc, but you’ll need to sling html to make them work. Here,
we’ll focus on some solutions that offer a little more scaffolding out
of the box.
Let’s start with the hosts that are easiest for novices to use.
Squarespace is
an out-of-the-box hosting solution. You can code your own site or use
their slick-looking design templates to create and customize your
website. They’ve also got a built-in blogging platform–which will be
useful for tomorrow’s challenge–and reportedly better SEO than other drag-and-drop website builders. The lowest tier of the service costs $10/month or $96/year. Example: Samuel N. Crane
sites are popular among academics. We’ll cover the platform in detail
tomorrow, but it’s essentially a blogging platform that can be
shoehorned into serving as a website. It offers good SEO, a
simple-to-use interface, and out-of-the-box design “themes” that are as
pretty (if not as easily customizable) as Squarespace’s.
sites are free to create, but certain services like extra hosting space
and domain name registration cost extra. Example: Joanna Dunlap
Github Pages
is a popular hosting option for the tech-savvy researcher. If you’re
already a user of the platform, Pages is a (relatively) simple solution.
It allows for custom URLs and connects with a Markdown-enabled blogging
platform called Jekyll (again, useful for tomorrow’s challenge). It’s
free, which makes the 100 MB per file and 1 GB per repository space
limits forgivable. Check out this guide to get started. Example: Ahmed Moustafa

Do some market research

Now that you’ve got a host for your website, your next job
is to learn what makes an academic website great. Search for others in
your discipline, academics in other fields, and even professionals who
work outside of the Ivory Tower. The point is to find sites that you
want to emulate for both design and content, make some mental notes
about what makes them “work,” and maybe even bookmark them for later
In addition to the examples we provided in the previous section, we recommend checking out these sites for some inspiration:
  • Christopher Madan:
    Chris is a postdoc at Boston College. This website is both visually
    appealing (great use of icons, photos, and formatting) and prominently
    includes important information about his career milestones (an “Intro to
    Matlab” book he wrote, links to publications and his CV, and a
    front-and-center bio that tells you what he’s all about).
  • Carly Strasser:
    Carly is a marine biologist turned Research Data Specialist with the
    California Digital Library. Her website works because it’s clean and
    simple, while making her expertise clear. She includes links to both
    papers and presentations, and also a prominent link to her blog–an
    important outreach tool.
  • Mike Brennan: Mike is an “alt-ac”–a
    researcher-turned-technologist and project lead at Second Muse. His
    website doesn’t have the slickest design, but it doesn’t matter. He
    nails his research career narrative by including front-and-center media
    coverage, links to publications and talks, and a list of awards. It’s
    easy to figure out how to contact him and links to personal photos and
    his record label give you a sense of his personality.
Got a sense of what a solid professional website looks like? Good, now let’s move on to what you should include in yours.

Essential components of a great professional website

As we’ve seen from Mike’s example, design is just aspect of
your professional website. Let’s dig into the key types of content that
you should include.

A short bio and recent photograph

Don’t use your bio to recount your entire career–that’s
what your CV is for. Instead, be sure to state the most important thing
about yourself first and foremost, and fill in the rest with broad
Who are you and what makes you tick as a researcher? What
have your most important accomplishments been to date? Write a paragraph
or two, then take a knife to it, cutting it down to bare essentials.
Want more advice on writing good bios? Guides to writing an effective bio can be found here and here.
And remember what we learned from yesterday’s challenge
about good professional photos? Apply those guidelines to help you
choose a good photograph for your website or, even better, just reuse
the same photo from your LinkedIn profile.
Once you’ve got your bio and your photo ready to go, you’ll
need to decide where to include it. I recommend keeping it simple by
adding both to your homepage, but you can include them in a separate
“About” or “Bio” page, instead.

Research interests

Now you’re going to tell others about your research. Your Research Interests page should be a punchier version of your Research Statement. If you’ve applied for a job or a promotion in the past few years, you likely have one handy.
The purpose of this section is to get others interested in
your research, and help them understand how you’ve contributed to your
discipline. You’ll describe what you’ve accomplished to date and what
problems you’re currently working on.
Keep in mind that the Research Interests page should be
much shorter than a formal Research Statement–no more than 2-3
paragraphs. Any longer and you risk losing your readers. Some jargon is
acceptable in this section, but don’t go overboard–write as though
you’re explaining your work to another academic who’s not in your
You might also choose to summarize some projects that
you’ve most recently worked on (or for which you’re particularly well
known) on this page. A paragraph or two per project is all that’s
needed. Alternatively, you can break these descriptions out into a
standalone Projects page.

Teaching & pedagogical materials

If you’re currently teaching or have taught in the past and
want to highlight that experience, a Teaching page is the place to do
it. List the courses you’ve taught, when you taught them, and include
syllabi and any class materials here.
Similarly, if you want to highlight your mentoring
activities or service to your field in their own standalone pages, you
can do that, too.

Contact information

If others are interested in your work, how can they best
reach you? Include both your current university contact information on
this page and–most importantly–an email address that won’t easily go out
of date if you switch institutions (your personal email address will
work, if you’re comfortable listing it).
And because this is the 21st century–and you’re quickly
becoming a very connected scholar–this is a good place to list links to
your other profiles from across the web.

Your CV

The only thing more annoying than keeping your CV
up-to-date is remembering to upload it to your website after you’ve
changed it.
I’m going to share with you a super-efficient hack that
made updating my CV downright pleasurable: embedding your CV in your
website using Dropbox, so any changes you make automatically appear
If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, you can sign up for one here for free.
In Dropbox, copy a Word version of your CV into the “Public” folder. Make sure your CV is up-to-date, and then save it as a PDF.
On your website, create a separate webpage for your CV. Then, insert this code where you want the embedded PDF to appear:
<iframe style=”width: 610px; height: 850px;” src=”[URLHASH]/[CV FILENAME].pdf” frameborder=”1″ width=”320″ height=”240″></iframe>
The URL you’ll use can be found by right-clicking on your
CV while in Dropbox, selecting “Copy Public Link,” and pasting it into
the code above.
When all is said and done, you’ll have an embedded CV in your website that looks like this:
Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.04.28 PM.png
And the best part is, whenever you need to update your CV, you can
just update the Word file that’s in your Public Dropbox folder, re-save
it (using the same filename) as a PDF, and the updated version will
automatically appear on your website! Awesome, huh?

Your scholarship

Now that others have a sense of all the scholarly products
you’ve ever created thanks to your CV, it’s time to get others access to
your most important works.
On this page, you’ll list your publications, talks, data,
software, and any other  scholarly products that you want to highlight.
The purpose of this page isn’t to replicate what’s on your CV; it’s so
your website’s visitors can get a 50,000 foot view of your quality as a
There are two popular ways to create pages for your
scholarship: put everything you’ve ever created onto a page; or
highlight only your best or most recent work. We’re going to take the
latter approach, because it’s easier to maintain over time.
Copy your best scholarly works from your CV to this page. Include the full citation and a link to the resource itself, like so:
Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.12.26 PM.png
Make it easy on your website visitors by listing no more than 20 products total.

An alternative approach to creating a standalone page for your scholarship is to create an Impactstory profile,
which can capture all of your outputs, links to full-text, and their
metrics into a single profile that’s embeddable into your website.
Holly’s linked to her Impactstory profile from her website, as we see
above. But more on that in an upcoming challenge!


First of all, take a deep breath. You have a website and that’s no small feat! Way to go!
Now let’s add links to the profiles you’ve created so far (, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, Mendeley, and LinkedIn).
You might also add Google Analytics to your site, so you can tell you how often your site is visited and by what demographics.
Next, decide if you want to register for a domain name. There’s a lot of reasons why you might want to do so,
but I’m personally of the opinion that as long as you’ve got a unique
name and good SEO, you don’t need to. If you do decide to register your
own domain name, know that Squarespace offers free registration and
WordPress allows you to register through their site for a fee. I’ve
heard good things about third-party registrar Namecheap, too.
Finally, take some time to experiment. The beauty of owning
your own website is the freedom it offers. I’d recommend playing around
with automating updates to your website. One way is to embed an RSS feed for your blog or Twitter stream
(if you already have them–if not, we’ll cover both soon). You could
also embed a calendar that easily lets others know when you’re available
during work hours (hopefully freeing you of scheduling agony in the
future). Google, Outlook, and third-party app UpTo calendars are good candidates for that.

Day 6: Success!

Now that you’ve got a website, we’re going to get you a
blog to go with it. It’s an indispensable tool for building expertise
and recognition in your field. See you tomorrow!

Impact Challenge Day 5: make LinkedIn work for your research

academics used LinkedIn “just in case someone contacts them.” Our job
today is to make your LinkedIn profile great enough that others will be eager to contact you. We’re also going to build out your network a bit, so others can see the high profile work you’ve done.
For today’s challenge, we’re going to:
  • Highlight your best work
  • Connect with other researchers
  • Create a profile that presents the best version of you and also doesn’t need a lot of regular maintenance

Step 1: Create a solid, low-maintenance profile

You want to create a profile that presents the very best
version of you, and also doesn’t need a lot of regular maintenance. (Who
has time for that?) You’ll do this by writing a headline and summary
that makes it clear in general terms why you’re a smart and talented
researcher and choosing a profile photo that’s both professional and

Make yourself memorable with a good headline

LinkedIn includes a short text blurb next to each person’s
name in search results. They call this your “Headline,” and just like a
newspaper headline, it’s meant to stimulate enough interest to make the
reader want more.
Here are some keys to writing a great LinkedIn headline:

  1. Describe yourself with the right words:
    Brainstorm a few keywords that are relevant to the field you’re
    targeting. Spend a few minutes searching for others in your field, and
    borrowing from keywords found in their profiles and Headlines. For
    instance, check out Arianna C’s
    Headline: “Conceptual Modelling, Facilitation, Research Management,
    Research Networking and Matching”. Right away, the viewer knows what
    Arianna is an expert at. Your headline should do the same.

  2. Be succinct: Never use two words when one will do. (Hard for academics, I know. :) ) Barbara K., who works in biotech, has a great Headline that follows this rule: “Microbiologist with R & D experience.”

  3. Show your expert status: What makes you
    the chemical engineer/genomics researcher/neuroscientist? Do you put in
    the most hours, score the biggest grants, or get the best instructor
    evaluations from students? This is your value proposition–what makes you
    great. Those with less experience like recent graduates can supplement
    this section by showing their passion for a topic. (I.e., “Computer
    scientist with a passion for undergraduate education.”)

  4. Use a tried and true formula to writing your headline: 3 keywords + 1 value proposition = Headline success, according to career coach Diana YK Chan.
    So what does that look like? Taking the keywords from (1) and value
    proposition from (3) above, we can create a Headline that reads,
    “Computer scientist with a passion for undergraduate education and
    experience in conceptual modelling and research management.” Cool, huh?
Well-written headlines are also key to making you more
findable online–important for those of us who need disambiguation from
similarly-named researchers beyond ORCID.

Make yourself approachable with the right photo

The next step to making yourself memorable to get a good photo on your profile. Here are three tips to remember:

  • Don’t tilt your head.
    Lots of folks, especially women, do this in photos to look more
    friendly, but it ends up making you look unassertive instead. Be

  • Turn your shoulders; the straight-on post yells “mugshot.

  • Try posting an action shot, emphasizing for the viewer what you’re good at. A good example is this photo that demonstrates public speaking ability:

Craft a compelling summary section

Your Summary is an opportunity to provide a 50,000 foot
view into your career and studies to date. Don’t just use this section
to repeat information found elsewhere on your profile. Instead, write a
short narrative of your professional life and career aspirations, using
some of the keywords left over from writing your Headline. When writing
your Summary, aim to be specific and make your value clear.
Don’t use technical jargon, but do provide concrete details
about your research and why it matters. Make yourself a person, not
just another name in a discipline. Describe what you’ve done and why it
Here’s a great example: Elizabeth Iorns, breast cancer researcher and entrepreneur, explains to profile viewers that:
“Based on her own
experiences as a young investigator seeking expert collaborations, Dr.
Iorns co-founded Science Exchange. In 2012, after recognizing the need
to create a positive incentive system that rewards independent
validation of results, Dr. Iorns created the Reproducibility
Right there is specific proof that
she gets stuff done: she’s created solutions in response to service gaps
for scientists. Impressive!

Step 2: Highlight your best work

Next, let’s prepare for making a good impression on your
LinkedIn network by highlighting the work that’s most important to
you. And you’re going to get others to notice it by making sure some of
it’s eye-catching.

Brag about your best publications and awards

Consider your publications and awards the vegetables–the
stuff you really want to be consumed. You’re going to make others notice
them by listing them alongside the sweets–your eye-catching content.
You’ll want to highlight only your best publications
(especially those where you’re a lead author) and most prestigious
awards (i.e., skip the $500 undergraduate scholarship from your local
Elks club). List no more than 5 total.
Here’s how to add them: in Edit Profile mode, you’ll see a
“Recommended for you” panel to the right of your profile photo and
header section. Click the “Publications” tile to add that section to
your profile.
On the Publications section, you’ll need to manually add publication details. Here are the most important details to include:
  • Title (this one’s a no-brainer)
  • Publication URL (so others can click through to read your work)
  • Description (include your abstract in this space)
You can also add your co-authors, if they’re on LinkedIn and you’re already connected.

Now that your articles are added,
drag the Publications section to appear just above or below any
eye-catching content on your profile.

Add some eye-catching content

With a little ingenuity you can make LinkedIn pretty good
for showcasing what scientists have a lot of: posters, slide decks, and
figures for manuscripts.
If you’ve ever given a talk at a conference, or submitted a
figure with a manuscript for publication, you can upload it here,
giving viewers a better taste of your work.
Neuroscientist Bradley Voytek has added a Wow Factor to his profile with a link to a TEDx talk he gave on his research. Pharmacology professor Ramy Aziz
showcases his best conference talks using links to Slideshare slide
decks. And Github repositories make an appearance alongside slide decks
on postdoc Cristhian Parra’s profile (pictured above).
You too can upload links to your best–and most visually
stimulating–work for a slick-looking profile that sets you apart from
others. Here’s how: add links, photos, slideshows, and videos directly
to your profile using the Upload icon on your profile’s Summary and
Experience sections.
One caveat to adding content to your profile: LinkedIn does
not offer analytics that show you how often your work is viewed or
downloaded on the site. So, you’ll be unable to say with certainty what
LinkedIn has done for your readership and so on, but that’s okay:
LinkedIn is more about relationships and the boost they’ll give your
reputation, instead. Read on.

Step 3: Connect with other researchers

Connecting with other researchers on LinkedIn is just one
more way to build an audience for your research. Connections help you
maintain relationships with past and current colleagues, who are likely
interested in the work you’re doing and want to read about it.
It’s surprisingly easy to find people you already know and add them to your network on LinkedIn.
Use the Add Connections tab in the top right corner of your profile to connect LinkedIn to your email account.
LinkedIn then suggests Connections based on your contacts.
An important rule to follow for LinkedIn is to only select Connections
you actually know and feel comfortable asking to keep in touch (former
collaborators, co-workers, and friends are good choices).
When Connecting, it’s a nice touch to send a message saying hello. Networking is all about building meaningful relationships, not how many people you have in your virtual Rolodex.


LinkedIn is a decent tool for professional visibility, but
it’s not without its headaches. Chief among them is that it’s yet
another information silo. (And that’s why you’re setting up a profile
that’s going to be easy to maintain, so you don’t have to update it but
once a year.) LinkedIn’s also overzealous with their notification
emails, sending more in a month than most of us would care to receive in
a year. Luckily, they’re easy to turn off; check out this blog post for a short-and-sweet how-to.


Add your best work

First things first: get at least three of your most
important publications onto your profile, add some eye-catching content,
then rearrange your profile sections so your Publications get prime
real estate next to the most visually-stimulating pieces on your

Make yourself more “googleable”

Next, you need to make it easy for others to view your
profile. What good is a killer LinkedIn profile if no one can find it,
or if your profile is so locked down they can only see your name?
Check your “public profile” settings (go to Privacy &
Settings > Edit your public profile) to make sure people can see what
you want them to. What might others want to see? Your past experience,
summary, and education, for starters; also include your best
Next, double-check your settings by signing out of LinkedIn completely and searching for yourself on both LinkedIn and Google.

Expand your network

Finally, let’s expand your network by requesting an
introduction to a new contact. If done correctly, it can get you name
recognition with important researchers.
Here’s an example of how that would work: I’m not currently
Connected to genomics researcher Mike Eisen on LinkedIn, but let’s say I
want to collaborate with him to do some research on a great idea I
The first thing I need to do to connect with him is find a contact that we have in common.

So, I visit Mike’s profile. On the left-hand side is a “How
You’re Connected” graphic. I can scroll through the list of contacts we
have in common to find a suitable middleman–Mendeley’s William Gunn.
Next, I would click on the “Ask William about Mike” link.
In the dialog box that appears, I’d write my request for an introduction
and send it to William. The request should follow three key rules:

Be specific

William might take 10 minutes out of his day to write a
recommendation for me, so I shouldn’t waste his time. That means telling
him exactly why I want to meet Mike: what Mike does that interests me
(he’s a genomics researcher), and what I’m looking to get out of an
introduction (an opportunity to tell him about my great research idea:
widgets for genomics researchers).

Include a “pitch” as to why an introduction would be valuable

Likewise, I should make it clear what Mike would get out of
meeting me. What do I bring to the table? In this case, it’d be the
chance to learn about a well-received new widget, and a future NSF grant

Show appreciation, and also provide William with an “easy out”

William’s time is valuable, so I should make it clear that
I’m thankful that he’s considering writing an Introduction. A good way
to do that in addition to saying thanks is to give him a way to beg off
without feeling too guilty.
Two additional rules for special scenarios are: 1) If we
didn’t know each other well, I’d want to remind William how we met, and
2) If William does introduce Mike and I, I should follow up with an
update and thanks.
An example introduction request can be found on this blogpost.
One final note: keep your requests for introductions to
“2nd degree connections”–that is, friends of friends–because your
chances of getting a meaningful introduction to a stranger through a
friend of a friend of a friend depends on too many variables to be successful.

Congrats, you’ve made it to the weekend!

You’ve just completed the Day 5 challenge. Congrats! We’re very proud of you.

But don’t go anywhere just yet! We’ll be bringing you two
challenges over the weekend: creating an effective website and starting a
professional blog. See you tomorrow!

Impact Challenge Day 4: Connect with other researchers on

Next up for our Impact Challenge is Mendeley.
Are you surprised? While there was pushback against Mendeley after it was unexpectedly bought by Elsevier a few years ago, and it is marketed more as a reference manager than a social network,
Mendeley remains popular with many academics and librarians. It offers
ways to connect with other researchers that you can’t find on other
Mendeley Web (the online counterpart to the desktop reference management software) is similar to Google Scholar
in several ways. What’s distinctive about Mendeley is that it offers
better opportunities to interact with other researchers and get your
research in front of communities that might be interested in it, in a
context where they’re largely interacting with scholarship they intend
to actually read and cite.
Moreover, Mendeley’s Readership Statistics can tell you a
lot about the demographics that have bookmarked your work–an important
indicator of who’s reading your work and who might cite it in the
We’re also going to talk in this post about Zotero, which
is quite similar to Mendeley. We’re big supporters of Zotero because
it’s an open-source non-profit, and we see that as a killer feature for
science tools. However, although it really shines as a reference
manager, Zotero’s community features are less powerful–mostly because
they have less activity. So we’ll provide links and information on how
to do some of these steps in Zotero, but not in as much detail.

Step 1: Create a profile

Logon to and click the “Create a free profile”
button. Create a login and, on the next screen, enter your general
field of study and your academic status (student, professor, postdoc,
As you advance to the next screen, beware: Mendeley Desktop
will automatically start downloading to your computer. (You’ll need it
to make the next step a bit easier on yourself, but you can also make do
without it. Your call.) Download it and install it if you plan to use
it for the next step–importing your publications.
Zotero alternative: Logon to, click
“Register” in the upper right-hand corner, and register for an account.
Once you’ve validated your new account, click your username in the upper
right-hand corner (where it says, “Welcome, username!”) and then click
on the “Edit Profile” link on the next screen to head to the Profile
section of your Zotero settings. There, you can create a profile.

Step 2: Import your publications

If you didn’t install Mendeley Desktop, here’s how to add your references manually using Mendeley Web:

  • Click the “My Library” tab, then the “Add Document” icon.

  • On the “Add New Document” dialog box that appears, select
    “My Publications” from the “Add to” drop-down menu, then use the “Type”
    drop-down menu to specify what type of document you’re adding to your
    “My Publications” list (article, book section, thesis, etc).

  • The dialog box will automatically expand, giving you many
    fields to fill out with descriptive information for that publication.
    Complete as many as possible, so others can find your publication more
    easily. If an Open Access link to the full-text of your publication
    exists, provide it in the URL box. And be sure to add a DOI, if you’ve
    got one. Click “Save” when finished.

  • Rinse and repeat as necessary, until all your articles are added to your profile.
If you’ve got Mendeley Desktop installed, your job is much easier. Export your publications in .bib format from Google Scholar (which we covered in yesterday’s challenge), and then:

  • Fire up Desktop and select “My Publications” from the “My Library” panel in the upper left corner of the screen.

  • Click File > Import > BibTeX (.bib) on the main menu.

  • On your computer, find the citations.bib file you exported
    from Google Scholar, select it, and click “Open”. Mendeley will begin to
    import these publications automagically.

  • In the dialog box that appears, confirm that you are the
    author of the documents that you’re importing, and that you have the
    rights to share them on Mendeley. Click “I agree.”

  • Click the “Sync” button at the top of the Desktop screen to Sync your local Mendeley library with your Mendeley Web library.
That’s it! You’ve just added all your publications to your
Mendeley profile. And you know how to add any missing publications that
didn’t auto-import, to boot.
Here’s what your profile page will look like, now that you’ve added publications to your My Publications library:
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 9.12.32 PM.png
Zotero alternative: to auto-import your publications from a BiBTeX file, follow these instructions. To manually add publications, follow these instructions.

Step 3: Follow other researchers

Now you’re ready to connect with other researchers.
Consider this step akin to introducing yourself at a conference over
coffee: informal, done in passing, and allowing others to put a face to a
First, you’ll need to find others to follow. Search for
colleagues or well-known researchers in your field by name from the
Mendeley search bar in the upper right-hand screen of Mendeley Web:
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 9.17.39 PM.png
Be sure to select “People” from the drop-down menu, so you search for profiles and not for papers that they’ve authored.

When you find their profile, click on their name in the
search results, and then click the “Follow” button on the right-hand
side of the profile:
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 9.20.56 PM.png
That’s it! Now you’ll receive
updates on your Mendeley homepage when they’ve added a new publication
to their profile or done something else on the site, like join a group.

Zotero alternative: Zotero works in a very similar way.
Search for your colleague, find their profile, and click the red
“Follow” button at the top-right of their profile to begin following

Step 4: Join groups relevant to your research

If Step 3 was like introducing yourself during a conference
coffee break, Step 4 is like joining a “Birds of a Feather” group over
lunch, to talk about common interests and get to know each other a bit
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 9.27.13 PM.png
Mendeley groups are places where researchers interested in a common
topic can virtually congregate to post comments and share papers. It’s a
good place to find researchers in your field who might be interested in
your publications. And it’s also the single best place on the platform
to learn about work that’s recently been published and is being talked
about in your discipline.

To find a group, search for a subject using the search
toolbar you used for Step 3, making sure to select “Groups” from the
drop-down menu. Look through the search results and click through to
group pages to determine if the group is still active (some groups were
abandoned long-ago).
If so, join it! And then sit back and enjoy all the new
knowledge that your fellow group members will drop on you in the coming
days, which you can view from either the group page or your Mendeley
And you can feel free to drop some knowledge on them, too.
Share your articles, if relevant to the group’s scope. Pose questions
and answer others’ questions. Openly solicit collaborators if you’ve got
an interesting project in the pot that you need help on, like Abbas
here has:
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 9.43.54 PM.png
Use groups like you would any other professional networking
opportunity: as a place to forge new connections with researchers you
might not have a chance to meet otherwise.
Zotero alternative: Zotero works in a very similar way.
Search for a group topic, find a group you want to join, and click the
red “Join Group” button at the top of the page.

Step 5: Learn who’s bookmarking your work

Once your work is on Mendeley, you can learn some basic information
about who’s saving it in their libraries via Mendeley’s Readership
Statistics. And that’s interesting to know because Mendeley bookmarks
are a leading indicator for later citations.
To see the readership demographics for your publications,
head to the article’s page on Mendeley. On the right side of the screen,
you’ll see a small Readership Statistics panel:
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 9.58.08 PM.png
Readership Statistics can tell you how many readers you
have on Mendeley (meaning, how many people have bookmarked your
publication), what discipline they belong to, their academic status, and
their country. Very basic information, to be sure, but it’s definitely
more than you’d know about your readers if you were looking at the
number of readers alone.
Zotero alternative: Zotero doesn’t yet offer readership statistics or any other altmetrics for publications on their site, but they will soon. Stay tuned!


Perhaps the biggest limitation to Mendeley is their
association with Elsevier. Mendeley was acquired by the publishing
behemoth in early 2013, while the ghastly, Elsevier-backed Research Works Act fail was still fresh in many academics’ minds.
As danah boyd points out, even after Elsevier dropped support for the RWA and the “#mendelete” fracas ended, Elsevier was (and is) still doing a lot that’s not researcher-friendly. And yet, some of us continue to eat at McDonald’s knowing what goes into their chicken nuggets.
Like any big organization, Elsevier does some stuff right and some
stuff wrong, and it’s up to researchers to decide how it all balances
out; there’s lots of room for reasonable folks to disagree. For what
it’s worth: at Impactstory, one of us is a Zotero early adopter and
code-contributor, one of us has switched from Mendeley to Zotero, and
one of us uses both :)
Drawbacks to the platform itself? You can’t easily extract
readership information for your publications unless you use Mendeley’s
open API (too high a barrier for many of us to pass). So, you’ll need to
cut-and-paste that information into your website, CV, or annual review,
just as you would when using Google Scholar. (It’s relatively easy to
extract readership numbers using third-party services like Impactstory,
on the other hand. More on that in the days to come.)
A final drawback: if you want to add new publications,
you’ll have to do it yourself. Mendeley doesn’t auto-add new
publications to your profile like Google Scholar or other platforms can.


First, complete your profile by manually adding any works that the BibTeX import from Google Scholar didn’t catch.
Next, build your network by following at least five other
researchers in your field, and joining at least two groups. On each of
the groups you’ve joined, share at least one publication, whether it’s
one you’ve authored or one written by someone else. Remember, make sure
they’re relevant to the group, or else you’ll be pegged as a spammer.
Over the next few days, log onto Mendeley Web (or Zotero
Web) at least one more time, and become acquainted with your homescreen
timeline to stay abreast of new research that’s been added to groups or
your colleagues’ profiles.
Finally, learn how to export your publications–and the rest
of your library–from Mendeley, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel
attempting to set up a profile for your publications on another
platform. Here’s how to get your library out of Mendeley in BibTeX

  • In Mendeley Desktop, select all publications you want to export.

  • From the main menu, click File > Export.

  • In the dialog box that appears, choose BibTeX from the
    drop-down menu, rename your bibliography if you want, and choose a safe
    place to store the .bib file. Click “Save” and you’re done!

Are you hangin’ in there?

You’ve now completed your Day 4 challenge, meaning you’re
over halfway finished with Week 1, and over 10% finished with the entire
month. That’s some free math, from us to you :)
Tomorrow, we’ll master LinkedIn. Get ready!

Impact Challenge Day 3: Create a Google Scholar Profile

covered two of academia’s most popular social networks for the November
Impact Challenge so far. Let’s now dig into the research platform
that’s most often used by researchers: Google Scholar.
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 12.00.58 PM.png
Google Scholar offers a popular way
to create a profile that showcases your own papers and the citations
they’ve received. It also calculates a platform-dependent h-index, which
many researchers love to track (for better or
for worse).

In today’s challenge, we’re going to get you onto Google
Scholar, so you can up your scholarly SEO (aka “googleability”), more
easily share your publications with new readers, and discover new
citations to your work from across the entire scholarly web.

Step 1: Create your basic profile

Log on to  and click the “My Citations” link at the top of the page to get your account setup started.
On the first screen, add your affiliation information and
university email address, so Google Scholar can confirm your account.
Add keywords that are relevant to your research interests, so others can
find you when browsing a subject area. Provide a link to your
university homepage, if you have one. Click “Next Step,” and–that’s it!
Your basic profile is done. Now, let’s add some publications to it.

Step 2: Add publications

Google has likely already been
indexing your work for some time now as part of their mission as a
scholarly search engine. So, this step is pretty easy, compared to what
it takes to get your work on to or ResearchGate.
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 5.24.05 PM.png

Google Scholar will provide you with a list of publications
they think belong to you. You’ll need to read through the list of
publications that it suggests as yours and select which ones you want to
add to your profile. Beware–if you have a common name, it’s likely
there’s some publications in this list that don’t belong to you. And
there’s also possibly content that you don’t want on your profile
because it’s not a scholarly article, or is not representative of your
current research path, and so on. Read through the publications list and
deselect any that you do not want to add to your profile, like the
below newsletter item that Google Scholar thinks is a scholarly article,
then click the grey “Add” button at the top of your profile.
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 12.17.07 PM.png
Next, confirm you want Google to automatically add new publications
to your profile in the future. Note that this might add publications you
didn’t author to your profile if you’ve got a very common name, but can
be worth it for the time it saves you approving new articles every

Your profile is now almost complete! Two more steps: add a
photo by clicking the “Change Photo” link on your profile homepage, and
set your private profile to “Public.”

Step 3: Make your profile public

Your profile is private if you’ve just created it. Change
your profile visibility by clicking “Edit” next to “My profile is
private” and then selecting “My profile is public” in the drop-down box.

Bonus: Add co-authors

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 6.00.26 PM.png
While your profile is technically complete, you’ll want to take
advantage of Google Scholar’s built-in co-authorship network. Adding
co-authors is a good way to let others know you’re now on Google
Scholar, and will be useful later on in the Challenge, when we set up
automatic alerts that can help you stay on top of new research in your

To add a suggested co-author, find the “Add Co-authors”
section on the top right-hand section of your profile, then click the
plus-sign next to each co-author you want to add.
That’s it! Now you’ve got a Google Scholar profile that
helps you track when your work has been cited both in the peer-reviewed
literature and elsewhere (more on that in a moment), and is yet another
scholarly landing page that’ll connect others with your publications.
The best part? Google Scholar’s pretty good at automatically adding new
stuff to your profile, meaning you won’t have to do a lot of work to
keep it up.


Dirty data in the form of incorrect publications isn’t the only limitation of Google Scholar you should be aware of. The quality of Google Scholar citations has also been questioned,
because they’re different from what scholars have traditionally
considered to be a citation worth counting: a citation in the
peer-reviewed literature.
Google Scholar counts citations from pretty much anywhere
they can find them. That means their citation count often includes
citations from online undergraduate papers, slides, white papers and
similar sources. Because of this, Google Scholar citation counts are much higher than those from competitors like Scopus and Web of Science.
That can be a good thing. But you can also argue it’s “inflating” citation counts unfairly. It also makes Google Scholar’s citation counts quite susceptible to gaming techniques like using fake publications to fraudulently raise the numbers. We’ve not heard many evaluators complaining about these issues so far, but it’s good to be aware of.
Google Scholar also shares a limitation with ResearchGate and it’s somewhat of an information silo.
You cannot export your citation data, meaning that even if you were to
amass very impressive citation statistics on the platform, the only way
to get them onto your website, CV, or an annual report is to copy and paste them–way
too much tedium for most scientists to endure. Their siloed approach to
platform building definitely contributes to researchers’ profile fatigue.
Its final major limitation? There’s no telling if it will be around tomorrow. Remember Google Reader? Google has a history of killing beloved products when the bottom line is in question.  It’s not exaggerating to say that Google Scholar Profiles could literally go away at any moment.
That said, the benefits of the platform outweigh the
downsides for many. And we’re going to give you a way to beat part of
the “information silo” problem in today’s homework.


Google Scholar can only automate so much. To fully complete
your Google Scholar profile, let’s manually add any missing articles.
And let’s also teach you how to export your publication information from
Google Scholar, because you’ll want to reuse it on other platforms.

1. Add missing articles

You might have an article or two that Google Scholar didn’t
automatically add to your profile. If that’s the case, you’ll need to
add it manually.
Click the “Add” button in the grey toolbar in the top of your profile.
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 5.39.53 PM.png
On the next page, click the “Add articles manually” link in the left-hand toolbar. Then you’ll see this screen:

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 5.41.58 PM.png
It’s here where you can add new papers to your profile. Include as
much descriptive information as possible–it makes it easier for Google
Scholar to find citations to your work. Click “Save” after you’ve
finished adding your article metadata, and repeat as necessary until all
of your publications are on Google Scholar.

2. Clean up your Google Scholar Profile data

Thanks to Google Scholar Profiles’ “auto add” functionality, your Profile might include some articles you didn’t author.
If that’s the case, you can remove them in one of two ways:

  • clicking on the title of each offending article to get to
    the article’s page, and then clicking the “Delete” button in the top
    green bar

  • from the main Profile page, ticking the boxes next to each
    incorrect article and selecting the “Delete” from the drop-down menu in
    the top grey bar
If you want to prevent incorrect articles from appearing on
your profile in the first place, you can change your Profile settings
to require Google Scholar to email you for approval before adding
anything. To make this change, from your main Profile page, click the
drop-down menu that appears in the top grey bar. Select “Profile
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 5.35.22 PM.png
On the next page,  change the setting to “Don’t automatically update my profile.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 5.37.03 PM.png

Prefer to roll the dice? You can keep a close eye on what
articles are automatically added to your profile by signing up for
alerts and manually removing any incorrect additions that appear. Here’s
how to sign up for alerts: click the blue “Follow” button at the top of
your profile, select “Follow new articles,” enter your email address,
and click “Create alert.”

3. Learn how to export your publications list in BiBTeX format

There will likely be a time when you’ll want to export your Google Scholar publications to another service like Impactstory or Mendeley. Here’s how to do that.
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 5.51.17 PM.png

Tick the box next to each article whose details you want to
export, or tick the top left-hand box to select all articles on your
profile. With the relevant articles selected, click the“Export”
button like we see on the right here, then choose BiBTeX. Next, choose
to export either the selected articles or all articles from your
profile, then click the final “Export” button to download your
“citations.bib” file.

4. Explore your citations

Your final bit of homework is to enjoy learning about all the
different places you’ve been cited. Because Google Scholar indexes
citations from across the entire scholarly web, there’s likely a lot of
places in the world that you’re being cited, in many different
publication formats.

Take some time to look not only at the numbers Google Scholar
provides, but to also click through the numbers to see the actual citing
publications themselves. Read them. See if you can’t connect with the
authors on ResearchGate or, if you’re so inclined.

And if you haven’t yet been cited, don’t despair! Now that more
people have the opportunity to find your research on Google Scholar and
elsewhere, the citations likely aren’t far away.

In coming days, we’ll cover how to use Google Scholar to stay abreast
of new research in your field and new citations to your work. Stay

Impact Challenge Day 2: Make a ResearchGate profile

Yesterday, you used to make new connections, find new readers for your work, and track how often your work is being read.
Today, we’ll help you master the other major player in the
scholarly social network space, ResearchGate. ResearchGate, which claims
5 million scientists as users, will help you connect with many
researchers who aren’t on (especially those outside North
America). It can also help you understand your readers through
platform-specific metrics, and confirm your status as a helpful expert
in your field with their “Q&A” feature.
Given ResearchGate’s similarity to, I won’t
rehash the basics of setting up a profile and getting your publications
online. Go ahead and sign up, setup your account (remember to add
detailed affiliation information and a photo), and add a publication or
Got your basic profile up and running? Great! Let’s drill
down into those three unique features of ResearchGate that you’re going
to explore for your Day 2 Challenge.

Finding other researchers & publications

Finding other researchers and publications on ResearchGate
works a bit differently than on Rather than allow you to
specify “research interests” and find other researchers that way,
ResearchGate automatically creates a network for you based on who you’ve
cited, who you follow and what discipline you selected when setting up
your profile.
So, key to creating a robust network is uploading papers
with citations to be text-mined, and searching for and following other
researchers in your field.
Searching for other researchers in your field is easy:
using the search bar at the top of the screen, type in your colleague’s
name. If they’re on the site, they’ll appear in the dynamic search
results, as we see below with Impactstory Advisor Lorena Barba:
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 11.51.38 AM.png
Click on their name in the search
results to be taken to their page, where you can explore their
publications, co-authors, and so on, and also follow them to receive

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.03.43 PM.png

ResearchGate also text-mines the publications you’ve
uploaded to find out who you’ve cited; they add both researchers you’ve
cited and who have cited you to your network, as well as colleagues from
your department and institution.
Here’s how to explore your network: click the
“Publications” tab at the top of your screen to begin exploring the
publications that are in your network. You can browse the most recent
publications in your area of interest, your network, and so on, using
the navigation bar seen above.
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 10.47.38 AM
If you find an interesting publication, you can click the paper title
to read the paper or click on the author’s name to be taken to their
profile, where you can explore their other publications or choose to
follow them, adding a new colleague to your network in a snap.

ResearchGate Score & Stats

If you’re into metrics, the ResearchGate score and stats offer lots to explore. The ResearchGate score
is an indicator of your popularity and engagement on the site: the more
publications and followers you have, plus the more questions you ask
and answer, all add up to your score. Check out Christoph Lutz’s
ResearchGate score–one of the more diversely-sourced scores I’ve seen to
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 12.02.01 PM.png
ResearchGate also helpfully provides a percentile (seen above on the
right-hand side), so you know how a score stacks up against other users
on the site. The score isn’t normalized by field, though, so beware that
using the score to compare yourself to others isn’t recommended.

All that said, ResearchGate scores are fun to play around with and explore. Just be sure not to take them too seriously.
The stats are also illuminating: they tell
you how often your publications have been viewed and cited on
ResearchGate both recently and over time, what your top publications
are, and the popularity of your profile and any questions you may have
asked on the site’s Q&A section. On your profile page, you’ll see a
summary of your stats:
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 12.24.07 PM.png
If you click on those stats, you’ll be taken to your stats page, which breaks down all of your metrics with nice visualizations:
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 12.25.33 PM.png
A caveat: like stats,
ResearchGate stats are only for content hosted on ResearchGate, so it
can’t tell you much about readership or citations of your work that’s
hosted on other platforms.


Now that we’ve made some passive connections by following
other researchers, let’s build some relationships by contributing to the
Q&A section of the site.
On the Q&A section, anyone can
pose a question, and if it’s related to your area of expertise,
ResearchGate will give you the opportunity to answer. We’ll talk more
about the benefits of participating in the Q&A section of the site
in the coming days, but basically it’s a good opportunity to help other
researchers and get your name out there.

Click on “Q&A” at the top of your screen and explore
the various questions that have been posed in your discipline in recent
weeks. You can also search for other topics, and pose questions
Two more cool ResearchGate features worth mentioning: they mint DOIs, meaning that if you need a permanent identifier for an unpublished work, you can get one for free (though keep in mind that they haven’t announced a preservation plan,
meaning their DOIs might be less stable over time than DOIs issued by a
CLOCKSSS-backed repository like Figshare). And you can also request
Open Reviews of your work, which allows anyone on ResearchGate who’s in
your area of expertise to give you feedback–a useful mechanism for
inviting others to read your paper. It’s a feature that hasn’t seen much
uptake, but is full of possibilities in terms of connecting other
researchers to your work.


Several readers have pointed out that and
ResearchGate are information silos–you put information and effort into
the site, and can’t easily extract and reuse it later. And they’re
absolutely correct. That’s a big downside of these services and a great
reason to check out open alternatives like PeerLibrary, ORCID, and
Impactstory (more on the latter two services in the days to come).
Some other drawbacks to both and ResearchGate:
they’re both for-profit, venture capital funded platforms, meaning that
their responsibility isn’t to academics but to investors. And sure,
they’re both free, which seems like an advantage until you remember that
it means that you are the product, not the customer.
One solution to these drawbacks is to limit the amount of
time you spend adding new content to your profiles on these sites, and
instead use them as a kind of “landing page” that can simply help others
find you and your three or four most important publications. Even if
you don’t have all your publications on either site, their social
networking features are still useful to make connections and increase
readership for your most important work.
In the coming days, we’ll cover other web services that
offer auto-updates and data portability, so you don’t end up suffering
from Profile Fatigue.
Two more things:
  1. Be sure to check your ResearchGate notification settings to cut down on spam. They send more emails than most email-fatigued academics care to receive.
  2. Make sure you’ve opted-out of sending invitations, so you don’t accidentally contribute to spamming others.


Set up your ResearchGate profile and at least three
publications you think deserve attention. Next, search for at least 5
colleagues or well-known researchers in your field and follow each of
them. Once you’ve established a network, take 10 minutes to explore the
“Publications” tab of ResearchGate, browsing publications that have been
recently published in your network.
In the coming days, take another 10 minutes to explore your
ResearchGate score and stats. Are there any that surprise you, in terms
of what’s getting a lot of readers? How might you incorporate this
information into your professional life outside of ResearchGate: would
you put it on your CV or website, into an annual review or grant
application in order to showcase your “broader impacts”? It’s ok if you
say “no” to these ideas–the point is to get you thinking about what
these metrics mean, and if and when you might use them professionally.
As for the Q&A section of ResearchGate–we’ll cover that soon. Stay tuned!

Day 2: Nailed it.

Now you’ve got connections on two of academia’s biggest social
networks, and you’ve increased potential exposure for your publications,
to boot. You’ve also got two new sources of metrics that’ll show how
often you’re read and cited.

Are you ready for Day 3? We’re going to cover Google
Scholar Profiles–a great tool for finding citations, upping your
“googleability” even further, and staying on top of new publications in
your field.
Until then, we welcome bragging about your ResearchGate mastery in the comments below! Questions also welcome. :)
PS It’s Day 2 and the November Impact Challenge is in full swing. It’s work, right? But stick with it–the work is worth it!
In 28 more days, your network and professional visibility
will be in a place many scholars take years to reach, and ready to grow
even more.
And today, we’d like to give you a extra little incentive.
Here’s a deal: if you can finish all 30 days, we’ll hook you up with
this free t-shirt to show off your achievement!
Screencap of the "Finisher" t-shirt, showing a boxer in silhouette with the  words "Finisher: November Impact Challenge" on it.
More info to come!

November Impact Challenge Day 1: Make a profile on

Welcome to the November Impact Challenge!
Over the next 30 days, we’re going to work together to supercharge your research impact. You’ll:

  • upgrade your professional visibility by conquering social media,

  • boost your readership and citations by getting your work online,

  • stay atop your field’s latest developments with automated alerting,

  • lock in the key connections with colleagues that’ll boost your career, and

  • dazzle evaluators with comprehensive tracking and reporting on your own impacts.
Each day’s challenge will look like this: we’ll describe
that day’s important principle–why it’s important, how you can get
started, and some resources to help you excel–and then share a homework
assignment, where you’ll apply the concepts we cover in that day’s post.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in, starting with scholarly social media.

Make a profile on

You know all those things you wish your CV was smart enough
to do–embed your papers, automatically give you readership statistics,
and so on? and ResearchGate (which we’ll cover in
tomorrow’s challenge) are two academic social networks that allow you to
do these things and a lot more.
Perhaps more importantly, they’re places where your
colleagues are spending a lot of their time. Actively participating on
one or both networks will give you ample opportunity to have greater
reach with other researchers. And getting your publications and
presentations onto these sites will make it easier for others to
encounter your work, not only for the social network they help you
build, but also to improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of your
research, making you much more “googleable”.
Generally speaking, both platforms allow you to do the following:

  • Create a profile that summarizes your research

  • Upload your publications, so others can find them

  • Find and follow other researchers, so you can receive automatic updates on their new publications

  • Find and read others’ publications

  • See platform-specific metrics that indicate the readership and reach you have on those sites
Today, we’ll cover getting started with Let’s dig into the basics of setting up a profile and uploading your work.

Basic profile setup

Logon to
If you’re a firm believer in keeping your professional online presence
separate from your personal one, you’ll likely want to sign up using
your university email address. Otherwise, you can sign up using your
Facebook or Google profile.
From here, you’ll be directed through the basic signup process.

Post a publication

How do you choose what to share? If you’re an established
researcher, this will be easy: just choose your most “famous” (read:
highly cited) paper. If you’re a junior researcher or a student,
choosing might be tougher. A peer-reviewed paper is always a good bet,
as-is a preprint or a presentation that’s closely related to your most
current topic of research.
Got a paper in mind? Now comes the
not-as-fun-but-incredibly-necessary part: making sure you’ve got the
rights to post it. Most academics don’t realize that they generally sign
away their copyright when publishing an article with a traditional
publisher. And that means you may not have the rights to post the
publisher’s version of your article on (If you negotiated
to keep your copyright or published with an authors’ rights-respecting
journal like PLOS Biology, give yourself a pat on the back and skip the following paragraph.)
If you don’t have copyright for your paper, all hope is not
lost! You likely have the right to post your version of the article
(often the unedited, unformatted version). Head over to Sherpa/Romeo
and look up the journal you published in. You’ll see any and all
restrictions that the publisher has placed on how you can share your
If you can post your article, let’s upload it to Click the green “Upload a paper” button and, on your
computer, find the publication you want to upload. Click “Open” and
watch as begins to upload your paper.
Once it’s uploaded, the title of your publication will be
automatically extracted. Make any corrections necessary to the title,
then click in the “Find a Research Interest” box below the title. Add
some keywords that will help others find your publication. Click save.

Add your affiliation and interests to your profile

Adding an affiliation is important because it will add you
to a subdomain of built for your university, and that will
allow you to more easily find your colleagues. The site will try to
guess your affiliation based on your email address or IP address; make
any corrections needed and add your department information and title.
Click “Save & Continue,” then add your research interests on the
following page. These are also important; they’ll help others find you
and your work.

Connect with colleagues

In this final step, you’ll be prompted to either connect
your Facebook account or an email account to, which will
search your contacts and suggest connections. Select and confirm anyone
you want to follow on the site. I recommend starting out small, to keep
from being overwhelmed by updates.

Congrats, you’ve now got an profile!

You can continue to spruce it up by adding more
publications, as well as adding a photo of yourself and other research
interests and publications, and connecting your Academia profile to
other services like Twitter and LinkedIn, if you’re already on ‘em. (If
not, don’t worry–we’ll cover that soon.)


Now that you have a profile, set aside half an hour to
explore three important uses of exploring “research
interests” in order to discover other researchers and publications;
getting more of your most important publications online; and using the Analytics feature
to discover who’s following you, how often others are reading and
downloading your work, and in which countries your work is most popular.
Research interests: To get started exploring, click on the research interests in your profile:
Screencap of Jonathan Eisen's profile, highlighting his research interests
For the search results that appear, take some time to
explore the profiles of others who share your interest(s) and follow
anyone that looks interesting. Click on the Documents tab of the search
results and explore relevant papers and presentations (below is an
example of what the “Human Microbiome” research interest page looks
like); I’m willing to bet you’ll find many papers and connections that
you weren’t aware of before.
Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 8.42.52 PM.png
You can also search for other research interests using the search bar at the top of the screen.
Upload more papers & presentations: click the
“Upload papers” tab at the top  right corner of your screen and upload
at least two more papers or presentations that you think are worthy of
attention. Remember to abide by any copyright restrictions that might
exist, and also be sure to add as much descriptive information as
possible, adding the complete title, co-authors, and research interests
for your paper, all of which will make it easier for others to find.

Analytics: click the “Analytics” tab at
the top of your screen and poke around a bit. Because you just created
your profile, it’s possible you won’t yet have any metrics. But in as
little as a few days, you’ll begin to see download and pageview
statistics for your profile and your publications (as seen below), and
other interesting information like maps, all of which can help you
better understand the use your work is getting from other researchers!
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 1.34.58 PM
So–you’ve claimed your professional presence on one of
academia’s biggest social networks and learned how to use it to find
other researchers and publications. More importantly, you’ve optimized
your profile so others can find you and your research much more easily.
Congrats! Day 1 Challenge: achievement unlocked!

Let’s see your results

Post a link to your profile in the comments, and let us know if you have any questions or tips on how to use
See you tomorrow for our Day 2 challenge: mastering ResearchGate!

Impact Challenge Archives - Page 3 of 3 - Impactstory blog

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