Get savvy about online impact

Dennis Relojo is the Founder of Psychreg and is the Editor-in-Chief of the new Psychreg Journal of Psychology.

He serves as an editorial board member for a number of peer-reviewed journals. Dennis holds a Master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Hertfordshire.

His research interests include educational psychology and special education.

You can connect with him through Twitter @DennisRelojo and his website. His ORCID is 0000-0001-8898-2077

Online media provides a host of possibilities for disseminating research. Including video clips in journal articles, for example, can really enhance traditional research outputs. Unfortunately, at the moment online media is often viewed as an accessory to research, rather than as an important element in a unified research lifecycle.

Photo by Markus Spiske |
Photo by Markus Spiske |

The way that people find and consume information is constantly changing: from traditional (i.e. watching television) through Web searching (think Google) to digital (mobile apps). These changes are having some big effects on research, as well as everywhere else.

Traditionally, researchers disseminated their work by attending conferences, publishing in journals (both academic and industry) and giving lectures (both to the public and to students). Online media now provides more channels and a bigger space to disseminate our work: through both general and academic social networking services, blogposts, podcasts and vlogs.

We have a wider reach for public engagement and greater control over our message. It also provides us with opportunities to do things differently.

The basics

The first thing a savvy scholar should focus on is your online identity. When you search for your own name, do you even show up in the first page of results?

The vast majority of Google users only click on links on the first page of Google when performing a search. This sounds a bit scary, especially if you don’t know what appears on the first page. The good news is that there are things you can do to improve it.

Here are some tips on how you can shape your online identity:

  1. Have your own website. Some researchers already have institutional profiles. If your university doesn’t provide one, or you don’t have a university affiliation, think about creating your own free page on or setting up a free blog at WordPress.
  2. Create an ORCID account. An ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a non-proprietary alphanumeric code to uniquely identify scientific and other academic authors and contributors.
  3. Create a profile on professional sites such as Google Scholar, ResearchGate, LinkedIn, Mendeley or
  4. Ensure that you have an appropriate image.
  5. Contribute. For example, write blogposts. Though you are paid to write publishable research and not blogposts, think of blogs as opportunities to create accessible outlets for your research.

Create connections

Being a savvy scholar is also about creating connections via the digital world. Whether your preferred social media service is Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, here are ways to help you achieve this:

  1. Follow interesting researchers online. My background is in psychology, and on my blog, I’ve compiled a list of celebrity psychologists on Twitter. #ScholarSunday is another great way to find interesting academics.
  2. Use hashtags appropriately. #ECRchat, #WithAPhD, #PhDchat & #PhDlife are popular ones. You will soon discover field-specific hashtags as you spend more time on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
  3. Sign up for services that can help you. For finding research collaborators, you can join Piirus or create a profile on Loop or Mendeley; for finding donors and funding, you can join Publiconn. Subscribe to YouTube channels (such as Microsoft Research) and listen to podcasts.

Even with these resources to help, some academics remain reluctant to be savvy scholars for fear of being accused of self-promotion. Disseminating your research online is marketing, a strategy to reach a wider audience. Don’t think of it as self-promotion; think of it as confident promotion.

Talk about your work

In disseminating your work online, here are some things to consider:

  1. Share your data and get credit for it. You can blog about it or talk on a podcast/video.
  2. Employ a spoke-hub distribution method. You might contribute guest posts to blogs or be a guest on a podcast or a vlog, but always point your audience back to your website (or your institutional profile).
  3. Learn how to properly cite online contents. I love this illustration from APA, showing ‘standard’ sources and the extended world of social media sources.

To effectively communicate online you have to drop the jargon. Avoid using it; it doesn’t make you sound smarter and audience are less likely to be engaged. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Key message: What is the main point?
  2. Audience connection: Why should people care?
  3. Evidence: Why people should believe you?

Find your audience

Now, let’s talk about research impact. A great way that I have discovered to increase your impact is through Kudos. The platform allows you to open up your research so new audiences can find and understand it, and track the most effective networks for getting your work read, discussed, and cited. It also gives you chance to learn where to focus your efforts to make the best use of your time. This can help in improving the metrics that you use to evaluate your impact.

External Diffusion can also help. It is “a web hub specifically built to help researchers spread the word about their work and make an impact through science communication and online outreach.”

Research dissemination can take many directions, but as savvy scholars we should use online media to build our research impact. Harnessing the power of online media can prove to be a robust strategy, not only for research dissemination but, more importantly, for knowledge mobilisation.


  1. Would the first part of improving your online visibility not be to locate the community you think would most benefit from reading your work and trying to locate where they are online?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jonathan and Dennis

      I actually think that it is more complicated than that.

      I absolutely agree that you should locate the community who are interested, and focus on them. However, to a certain extent, you are limited by your networks in doing this. That is, you only know the people that you know, and it is hard to reach beyond them to the people that you don’t know.

      Journals provide a proxy for academic audiences, but a poor one, in my experience. They generally only provide one way interaction (author -> reader), and are very loosely networked, if at all. Also Google Scholar seems to have changed the way that academics interact with journals. People now seem to be searching and browsing through many, many journals, rather than subscribing to a few.

      Conferences provide a better venue for finding academic peers, but there is a limit to the number that you can go to, and some people find them overwhelming and alienating.

      Social media, on the other hand, is a ‘bread upon the waters’ approach. You don’t know where your message is going to go, but you are distributing it widely, not narrowly. Through blogs and other ‘presence’ online, you are telling people who you are and what you are interested in. If you aren’t online, people can’t find you. Being social makes it easier for people to find you.

      Social media also provides you with much more of a two-way channel. You can engage with your audience, and they can engage with you.

      You allow network effects to come into play – finding people who are interested in your work (and you in theirs) will lead to more people. As the network gets bigger, it gets more effective at finding new members. Finally, it is a sustainable activity – you can put as much (or as little) time into as you feel you are able. If you find it is rewarding, you are probably going to do more. If it doesn’t work for you, you can scale back your commitments, or abandon it completely.

      On the other hand, it isn’t for everybody. Some people love some aspects, but not others. For some, it doesn’t work at all.


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