In early June, Adrian J. Ebsary, the online community specialist at the University of Ottawa, presented “Social Media for Citation Driving” at the 2015 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Ottawa, Canada. These tips, drawn from his larger talk, explain how academics and researchers can—and should—increase citations using social media.
Step 1—Establish your online “brand”
- Your “brand” is the basic unit of social media.
- Much like an ORCID identifier, the personal brand you establish online in transportable; it will follow you from job to job and institution to institution.
- It should be the same name, including initials, that you use in publications and thus will be recognizable.
- It connects you directly with your peers, so be personable.
Blog about your research. Failing that, see if other bloggers will do so. Information scientist Hadas Shema finds that “for some, but not all, journals articles blogged in [research blogs] tend to subsequently receive more citations than other articles from the same journal.”
Join academic social networking sites such as Academica, Citeulike, ResearchGate, and even LinkedIn to flag your own research articles for other authors.
Step 2—Get discovered
Social media, blogging, and contributing to Wikipedia will increase your visibility, increase your professional network, and demonstrate your outreach efforts. Basic “search-engine optimization” will do the same for your published research. Repeat key phrases in your abstract while writing naturally and assign keyword terms to the manuscript. In determining these keywords, consider what your target reader will look for—“chemist” is not the same as “chemistry,” for example.
- Some 86 percent of articles on first page of search results have the search term in the title, compared to 26 percent in the last page of results. And while papers with titles framed as questions are downloaded more than are other papers, they tend to be cited less often!
- Although Google Scholar currently doesn’t seem to use keyword searches in the body of the paper, authors should still use the keywords and synonyms in the article if possible.
- Authors should pay attention to the journal and/or conference name when writing titles and abstracts.
- There are tools, such as Google Adwords and Google Trends, that identify what people are looking for, but in academe, keywords with less volume often spark more interest among your target audience
Step 3—Grab a low-hanging piece of fruit
In the nine years since the 140-character (for now) microblogging site Twitter debuted, it has gained in prominence as a tool for discovering peer reviewed scholarship by other scholars. Even busy academics find time to cite papers—their own and others—to highlight research (and not to support arguments).
- Successful tweets in these cases tend to be more conversational, immediate, and interdisciplinary. In one sample from 2012, while half of academic tweets linked directly to the paper, the balance linked to blogs, news stories, or bookmarking services such as CiteULike, and those following the tweets tended to regard them as roughly equivalent to the original article.
But this doesn’t mean every author tweeting has a full command of the medium or its potential.
- Each link or media file consumes 23 characters for the link and one for the space.
- When composing a tweet, place text first, the link second, and hashtags and references last.
- Use a line return (Enter) before your link and hashtags instead of a space.
- Use no more than two hashtags per tweet—otherwise, you’re spam! And be ethical. Only #hashtag for the subject of the tweet.
- And remember, prominence in Twitter is achieved more by having followers than by following others.