Helpful Tips for Sharing Your Academic or Scientific Research Online
So strong is the current trend to share information and activities, both personal and professional, in online contexts that even the most reluctant academics and scientists are beginning to post their writing and blog about their research. Universities and research institutions now encourage the web-based activities they questioned only a decade or two ago, and recent studies suggest that the online promotion of advanced research tends to increase citations and thus contribute to the many benefits that come with higher citation rates. For those familiar with social media and online communication, this trend is welcome indeed, though constructing a professional rather than a personal identity may require some thought. For those who have never even had a Facebook page or Twitter account, the online presentation of research is daunting to say the least, and they may find the following tips especially helpful.
• Be yourself. Your unique experience and fresh perspective as the conductor of advanced research are valuable commodities in an online context. They are required if you are to report your methods and discoveries accurately and enthusiastically, and they will make your writing more interesting to a wide range of readers than a homogenised or falsely objectified approach could.
• Focus on the professional. Being yourself does not mean sharing everything with your readers when you are wearing your scholarly cap. Your focus should be your research, your teaching and other career-oriented activities. This does not mean that you cannot mention the disaster that ensued when you lost the key to your car last week, but the information you share should be primarily professional. A Facebook page could be used for more personal information, and some of your readers will encounter you in both venues, so keep in mind that every bit of information you post online may shape the identity readers discover. Never post inappropriate or compromising material anywhere.
• Tell a story. More and more scholars are advised to learn from the principles of fiction and tell a story as they report their research. Audiences for scholarship are varied in a way they have not been in the past, and even highly specialised academic and scientific journals ask their authors to anticipate a wide range of readers. Rendering your online writing more appealing and engaging by telling a story in each article you write, even if it is only the simplified story of a tiny stage in your research, tends to win more online readers than a more traditional scholarly approach does.
• Master the short form. Today’s online readers, even many of those who are accustomed to scholarly texts, want answers quickly. Three seconds, two sentences, a single paragraph – all have been used to characterise the amount of time and text the online writer has in which to catch the attention of someone who has happened upon his or her article. This means that you need to make immediately clear what you are writing about and why it is worth reading. It is therefore necessary to master the short form by packing your first words with interest and meaning, and it is also necessary to master the short form by presenting material of true significance and substance within the confines of, say, a short blog post.
• Write well for clarity and format your writing for accessibility. As a scholar presumably publishing or aiming to publish your research, you are also a professional writer, so your prose should show it in all public venues.