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Communication Tools and Strategies for the 21st Century Scientist

This presentation covers ways for scientists (and students) to increase online visibility of their work through visual media and media-sharing platforms, as well as social networking and blogging.

Karen McKee

on 19 May 2016

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Transcript of Communication Tools and Strategies for the 21st Century Scientist

Print Journal
Public Lectures
Social Media
Google Scholar
17th to
20th Century
Beyond the
21st Century?

Communication Tools & Strategies
for the
21st Century Scientist
A successful science career requires excellent communication skills,
not only in scientific writing and speaking but in new ways that
science is being communicated today through digital media, social
networking, and electronic publishing.
The 21st century scientist needs a professional online presence
The cornerstone of an online profile is a professional website....one that you control and can update regularly. When should you start one? Establish one while you are a student and then build on it as you progress in your career.
Share audio-visual products on video-sharing sites. If you produce videos about your research or create online lessons, a video channel allows you to centralize and organize such content.
Share your research findings or other information by posting slideshows,
posters, maps, and diagrams on platforms
such as Slideshare or Prezi.
Another way to increase online presence is with a science blog or a blog connected to your website where you talk about your activities, recent papers, new grants, etc. Blogging is not for everyone, of course. It takes work to create quality content on a regular basis. However, some of the benefits, especially for a junior scientist, include regular practice writing about science, keeping up with current events in the field, showing off communication skills, and raising visibility within a field.
Raise visibility of your topic with topic curation. There are curation platforms such as Scoopit, which allow the curator to set up an information gateway and provide tools to search the internet for content on a topic of interest using keywords. If you already use Google alerts to find information or current events related to your field, you might find this approach useful. Curation goes a step further and allows you to store those links and share them with others.
A one-page brief or factsheet can be created
with a template and posted online as a pdf.
Search engines will identify it as an image,
which may lead to a higher ranking than a
text-based link.
Post non-copyrighted figures, tables, supplementary data, and other media on sharing platforms such as Figshare and link back to the journal article.
Takeaway: Optimize your journal articles for search engines and use digital media to create multiple links to them.
Visual or video abstracts allow people to further explore and interact with your research findings. Post these visuals on media-sharing platforms or your website. Journals or science blogs may link to them or promote your work through social media.

If you publish a typical paper in a typical journal, its visibility online is usually quite low, even if it is open-access as this particular paper happens to be. How do you make such a paper more visible online?

Answer: Use visual media to create multiple, electronic pathways that lead people to it.
Takeaway: A regularly updated website or other online professional profile is essential for the 21st century scientist. Use media-sharing platforms, blogs, and topic curation to further expand online visibility.
3 Important Functions of Social Media
Social networks designed for scientists and other professionals can be used effectively to create a professional image, raise online visibility, and make contact with future collaborators, students, advisers, and employers. These are a few examples.
1. Connect with people of similar interests
2. Centralize and disseminate publications
3. Raise online visibility
Create profiles on other platforms such as ResearcherID and ORCID.
Create a profile, curate publications & post supplementary resources, track views/downloads/citations, follow/be followed, join groups and interact.
Curate publications and track citations
Create a profile, curate publications, list skills and endorsements, join groups, make connections.
Track and Compile All Metrics
aggregates metrics from these sources:
A scientist who has both article and non-article products (e.g., video, datasets, slideshows, blog posts) can aggregate and share the altmetrics of all their output through platforms such as this.
New eBook authoring applications allow creation of science books containing media-rich content. Mouse over to see player controls.
Use Pinterest to create a visual tour of
your laboratory and activities or to raise
visibility of your research topic.
Communication Skill Level
General social media can be used to make an impact beyond the scientific community.
Some journals, science societies, and individual scientists are using Twitter to highlight publications and also to discuss/debate current topics.
Many science organizations and individual researchers have Facebook pages where more extensive discussions can take place. Scientists can communicate and coordinate activities with their lab groups via Facebook.
1. Citations
2. IF of journal
3. Subjective assessment
4. Number of views and downloads
5. Researcher bookmarking
6. Social media discussions
7. Mentions in popular press
8. Datasets, maps, lessons, videos, and other products provided online
9. Impact on practice and policy
10. Impact on public understanding of science
Today, conference presentations and seminars can be recorded and provided online by scientific societies or by individuals where many more people can see your talk.
National Science Foundation
1. Technical merit
2. Broader impacts
Funding Sources
Use Twitter to:
1. Publicize new grants, publications, presentations and other activities
2. Solicit crowdsource funding, volunteer workers
3. Connect with external audiences (business, government, private)
Use Facebook to:
1. Communicate with and coordinate activities of a lab group or multi-investigator project.
2. Share and archive recent data and photos with group members
3. Hold on-going discussions
In the past, scientists gave talks at conferences
to small audiences.
Post slideshows and posters on
media-sharing platforms: citable,
searcheable, shareable.
Image source: Star Trek, Original Series
Writing & Speaking
New communication technologies
Few skills,
no strategy
Excellent skills,
and a strategy
Tweet or Perish?
I am more than
my h-index!
By optimizing your journal articles for search engines, you make them more readily discoverable.
Search Engine
Our original title: "The relative role of mangrove vegetation in maintenance of soil elevations within intertidal habitat"
Karen L. McKee
1. Any mention of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the author or any affiliated organization.
2. If you are a U.S. Government employee, follow your agency's guidelines for publishing and any online or social media activity related to your work.
You can share photographs of you, your research group, and your work on sites such as Flickr or Picasa Web or in an institutional media gallery. Add links back to your website or to other sites where your media is displayed.
Public domain image
Journal Articles
Video Abstracts
Watch a tutorial showing how to create a video abstract with a smartphone.
Mouse over to see video controls. 14:44 min
With a video abstract,
the author(s) can explain their work in their own words, demonstrate methods, or highlight applications. Mouse over to see video controls. 4:53 min
Additional Resources/Links

-The Scientist Videographer (electronic guidebook to creating science videos): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-scientist-videographer/id749398300?mt=11

-Research impact and visibility (good overview and links to researcher profile sites by Utrecht University Library): http://libguides.library.uu.nl/profiles

-Search engine optimization (SEO): For authors (Wiley): http://www.wiley.com/legacy/wileyblackwell/pdf/SEOforAuthorsLINKSrev.pdf

-Get noticed: Disseminate your research better (Elsevier): http://cdn.elsevier.com/assets/pdf_file/0004/145048/Authors_Dissemination_Brochure_170912.pdf

-From bibliometrics to altmetrics (College and Research Libraries): http://crln.acrl.org/content/73/10/596.full
SEO for Authors
3 Good Tips:
1. Use a descriptive title that contains one or more search terms people are likely to use to find information on your study topic. Search engines look for search terms in the title of an article.
Search Engine Optimization
Our final title: "How mangrove forests adjust to rising sea level"
2. Select additional keywords and phrases (especially synonyms that people might use to search) and place them in the keyword field.
3. Craft the abstract using relevant keywords and phrases; repeat these terms contextually throughout the abstract. Search engines look for terms that are repeated in the article to determine relevance.
Promote Your Article
Share the news about your article:
1. Your website or your institution's
2. Your blog
3. Linkedin
4. Facebook
5. Twitter
6. Mendeley
7. ResearchGate
Funding agencies such as NSF have for some time now required proposers to show the broader impacts of their research on society in addition to the technical merit of the proposed project. Metrics gauging that broader impact may eventually be used to assess grant proposals or the success of a research project.
Image: Michael Faraday giving the Christmas lecture in London by Alexander Blaikley (ca 1856). Public domain image in the U.S. and source country.
T.H.E. Hotshot
Print Books
As funding from traditional sources becomes more competitive, scientists must look for creative ways to conduct research. Crowdsource funding or citizen science volunteers may be used by students or young scientists,

To succeed, these approaches require online visibility and social media skills.
Create a Website
Share Photos
Start by examining your online presence.
Use media-sharing platforms to expand online visibility
Share Slideshows
Share Videos
Start a Blog
Raise Visibility of a Topic
Online Articles
Raise online visibility
of journal articles
Use Media-Sharing Platforms
Create a Research Brief
Create a Visual/Video Abstract
Put Conference Talks/Posters Online
Today, online lessons and courses reach a global audience.
Teach Online
Create Media-Rich Books
Google Scholar
Join professional networking/profiling sites
Use general social media
Pin It!
Metrics of Science Impact
Crowdsource Fund Your Research
Takeaway: The 21st Century scientist and educator can reach a much broader audience than in the past by using online platforms, digital media, and electronic publishing. New skills may be needed to prepare and deliver conference talks, online lessons or courses, and science books.
Takeaway: Creating profiles on professional networking sites raises online visibility of scientists and their work and can lead to new collaborations. General social media can help a scientist stay abreast of scientific advances and discussions and to make connections beyond the scientific community.
Takeaway: Becoming more skilled at communication, especially using new technologies, can have a beneficial impact on a scientist's ability to acquire funding to conduct research.
Create your own visual abstract with this template:
Tutorial: How to record your presentation with screencapture. Mouse over to see video controls (9:01 min).
That's me in 1973. I thought science was all about doing experiments, collecting samples, and analyzing data.
Ensure that your information is easy to find, is accurate, and is professional.
Shows traditional citations plus social media discussions and bookmarking.
Takeaway: Scientists now can keep track of and use the totality of their contributions to show impact on science and society.
Like many students,
I did not realize just
how important
communication skills
would be in my science career....or how much communication
technology would change.
Embed the visual abstract
on your website in the
publication list.
Scientists need to be skilled
in traditional communication
methods (writing, speaking)....
...but someone with a good
communication strategy can set themselves apart from the crowd.
Your communication strategy will depend on you and your career goals.
Click on link to see visual abstract:
Sites that aggregate both traditional and alternative metrics can be used to gauge a scientist's total impact on society, not just technical publications.
A researcher proposes a project in
a specific discipline.
A target funding level and timeframe
are set; then backers are solicited through
online visibility and social media.
Scientists originally communicated
their work through letters and
face-to-face conversations with colleagues
A letter from 22 February 1882 by Charles Darwin to the Czech traveller Emil Holub (public domain image in U.S.)
With the advent of the
internet and electronic
devices, communication
underwent a radical
Full transcript