The digital environment offers researchers a wide variety of means to build and deploy their online identity, reputation and personal academic brand to increase the dissemination of their work and their opportunities for collaboration. In this article we identify the main platforms that researchers can employ:
- Researcher’s website or web page
- Blog or video-blog
- Author profiles
- Social media
The researcher’s website or web page
This should be considered the researcher’s primary digital residence. From it, the researcher can offer a hub or gateway to his or her entire online presence, from a medium over which he or she has control. It usually has the following sections:
- Presentation (“About”). Home page or main page, which is usually the most visited. Brief description of the researcher (identity). It is important to include a photograph (or, failing that, an avatar). It is also interesting to include links to the main author profiles (for example, ORCID and Google Scholar Citations).
- Research. Subsections: A) Publications (Monographs, Book chapters, Journal articles, Conference proceedings; B) Research projects.
- Teaching. Information on courses taught, evaluations received, etc. can be included here.
- Service. Academic management activities, professional representation (associations), service to the scientific community (peer review, thesis direction and participation in thesis tribunals, etc.).
- Complete curriculum vitae. The possibility of downloading a PDF version of the researcher’s CV in different formats is usually offered.
- Contact information. Contact details or, for greater security, a contact form can be provided.
Many universities, departments or research groups now offer their researchers the possibility of creating a page to identify and promote their contributions. The problem is often that in these environments the researcher must adhere to standardized schemes that may limit their ability to adequately develop their online presence and will not be able to develop custom web analytics, essential to measure individual conversion goals. In these cases it is therefore often advisable to develop your own site.
When building the site, the most basic format would be the one provided by the About.me service. Google Sites provides an environment for developing basic sites. However, to develop a more complete website, which allows us to develop customized analytics, we will have to contract a domain and hosting service in which we can work with a CMS such as WordPress, the most popular solution for publishing content on the web.
Once the website is built, it will be necessary to make it known, including the URL of the home page in all our profiles. Nowadays the exchange of business cards between researchers seems to be a thing of the past, but it can still be useful, especially at scientific events and meetings. In these cases, it is advisable to include the URL to the researcher’s website. Alternatively, you can also generate a QR code from the ULR of the site and instead of offering a business card, you can show the QR on your cell phone (or on your presentation slides) so that others can capture it.
Blogs and video-blogs
Many researchers incorporate a blog into their website, thus forming an integral part of their digital residency. In other cases, external blogs can be published using tools such as WordPress, Blogger, or Google Blog. Blogs allow the publication of more extensive texts than the microblogging of social networks. In them, authors report on the progress of their research, their recent readings, comment on current scientific topics, etc. It is a magnificent tool for displaying digital identity and gaining reputation, since it is a leisurely style of publication that generates closeness and credibility in the reader.
Research Blogging can be used to give greater visibility to posts on comments and reviews of papers published in peer-reviewed journals.
In today’s audiovisual culture, the researcher can benefit from tools such as Youtube for the publication of his blog, achieving greater connection with his audience.
Blog articles and videoblogs can contribute in a very important way to attract traffic to the researcher’s site, to the URLs that are considered key to contribute to the visibility and impact of their work.
These days, there are numerous platforms that provide researchers with the means to make themselves known and disseminate their work. Two main types of platforms can be distinguished (Nicholas et al. 2015, p. 6):
- Platforms based on the traditional view of academic reputation, focused on citation and publication, such as Google Scholar and Researcher ID, have been used as a basis for the development of a more comprehensive and accurate citation and publication strategy..
- Emerging platforms, based on the principles of Science 2.0 and social media measurement, highlighting the visibility and digital presence of researchers. Among them, the following types and examples can be observed:
- Altmetric services: Kudos, Impactstory
- Citizen science platforms: Foldit, Socientize
- Source code repositories: Github
- Data repositories: Dryad
- Academic social network services by discipline: myexperiment, Scitable
- Lab e-notebooks: labfolder
- Multidisciplinary academic social network services: Academia, labroots, ResearchGate
- Open peer review: Pubpeer, Publons
- Professional social networks: LinkedIn
- Reference managers with social features: BibSonomy, Mendeley, Zotero
Generalist (non-academic) social networks and social media are also very useful for researchers, as they allow them to be in contact not only with other researchers, but also with professionals and citizens.
- Social networks and applications allow the researcher:
- Promote their professional identity (Who am I?).
- Promote their work (process) and scientific production (result) (What do I do?).
- Evaluate the work of others (What do I think about what you do?).
- Comment on news, comments of others, etc. (What do I think about what is happening or being said?).
- Give your evaluators an idea of the impact of your work as a whole and your commitment to scientific dissemination, transparency, collaboration and outreach through altmetric services (What impact does my work have on society?).