There are many reasons why a researcher or a research department wants to increase the visibility of their research. It can be as simple as wanting to improve the academic impact by gaining more views and citations for their research articles. However, others may wish to increase their visibility to attract more opportunities for collaboration or even to highlight their research impact on the larger society.
No matter what your goal or intention is, it is essential to communicate your research across to the right groups of people, that is, knowing your audience. By doing so, you can tailor and design your communication strategies appropriately. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to increase your research visibility and will largely depend on the purpose and type of your research. In this guide, you will find some guiding questions, which we hope, can give you some directions to help you achieve your goal of increasing the visibility of your research.
What is the purpose of your research?
First, think about why you are doing the research. Are you attempting to develop a theory and build new knowledge in your research field? Are you trying to solve a real-world problem or improve an existing situation so that it can benefit a specific group of people?
Understanding the purpose of your research helps you identify whom you need to communicate your research to, which brings us to the next question.
Who are the stakeholders of your research?
Stakeholders of your research are usually people who are interested in and/or benefited from your works. Different stakeholders will also focus on different aspects of your research. University administrators and funders are clearly very important stakeholders of your research and they may largely concentrate on research metrics. Whereas, other important stakeholders like potential research collaborators or industry partners, potential research students, or even government and policymaker may focus on other aspects of your research such as impact on industry and society.
Knowing your target audience, the specific stakeholder, can help you determine different strategies to increase your visibility by considering the platforms, media, and language used to communicate your research.
Can they access your work?
It would be a pity if people who are interested in your work cannot access the full version of your research. Making your work open access would definitely help both academics and non-academics to read your works for free.
For traditional research outputs, consider publishing in OA journals, or depositing the manuscript in PolyU Institutional Research Archive (PIRA). You can also archive your non-traditional outputs in PIRA, such as an exhibition catalog.
Depending on the nature of your work, it may also be a good idea to archive the underpinning research data in a data repository or publish them in a data journal. This facilitates the reproduction of your research so that your findings become more accessible through future research works.
You may also repackage your research work into open-licensed teaching and learning resources and share it on the PolyU OER Portal so that there is one more channel for people to see your work and reuse its content for teaching and learning purposes.
Can they understand your work?
This is very important especially when you need to communicate your research to non-academic stakeholders. You can get some useful tips from A Practical Guide to Communicating with Non-Scientists.
Also, seek opportunities to explain your works through public media, either in written or verbally, if the findings involve public interests. This allows you to share the interesting stories behind the scene which makes your research much more tangible to the general public. Some publishers offer tools, e.g. Kudos, to help their authors explain and promote their research works. Watch a video to learn how it works.Some academic institutions also demonstrate the contribution of their research to society through impact case studies, which are written in simple and direct languages for both academic and non-academic stakeholders.
How can they discover your work?
This very much depends on who your target audience is and where you intend to promote your research.
For traditional publications, appropriate titles and keywords can make your works more easily to be found by other researchers via search engines. You can find suggestions from publishers, e.g. Wiley, Elsevier, Springer. In addition, try to use a consistent format of your name, and/or an author ID such as ORCID to ensure that your works will be attributed to you. When quoting affiliation to PolyU, use the full term "The Hong Kong Polytechnic University". (Check PolyU's Handbook for Projects and Grants for more details.)
To improve the discoverability of a webpage of your works, you may consider Search Engine Optimation (SEO), which helps to improve a website's ranking in search engines. You can learn how SEO works and help Google find and understand your content from the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide.
You can also showcase the outstanding works from the students under your supervision through PolyU Outstanding Work by Students (OWS) platform. These works are searchable on Google and Google Scholar which makes your contribution more visible at both individual and departmental level (see an example).
For researchers targeting stakeholders from certain communities of interest, government agencies, businesses, and industries, try to promote your research on social media platforms or approach them proactively with a well-written report/proposal, prototype, or anything that can help convince them.
Last but not least...
Don't forget the quality of your work will always matter. Helping the world to be a better place and improving the welfare of human beings is essential to gain attention to your research works!