When spending time (and potentially money) on increasing your visibility as researcher, evaluating your visibility in general and how specific steps contribute to it, is key. Here, we look at some tools which can help you evaluate your efforts.
The famous: "Google yourself"
The most well-known step to assess your visibility is to google yourself. If possible, use a device different to your own or use at least incognito mode on your own systems to avoid the search engines telling you what you want to hear, but showing you reality.
Are you appearing on page one? Which of your work is found easily? How recent is the information that can be found? Is there any content that could be perceived negative or even harm your reputation? What are other things that come up when looking for your name?
When doing this, make sure to take action on any negative or harmful content.
Assessing the reach and impact of your research work
The infamous “Publish or Perish”. As scientists our visibility is (unfortunately) tightly linked to our publication record, leading to the maxim “pubish or perish”.
A publication ideally also makes an impact (shocking, I know); thus, analysing and understanding the scale and relevance of your research is important.
Various tools exists to help you analyse your own impact and also compare it to others. If you have for example a GoogleScholar or ResearchGate account, they will provide you with basic statistics.
You can also use more sophisticated tools such as, “Anne-Wil Harzing (2010-2013). Author citation analysis across disciplines. Chapter 16, The Publish or Perish book; https://harzing.com/resources/publish-or-perish” allowing you to examine your impact and visibility.
Altmetrics or alternative bibliometrics, such as Altmetrics, plumX, or dimensions are very useful tools for analysing how often your publications were for example tweeted or covered in media, adding an additional layer of information to your visibility analysis.
Analysing your website
If you have a website, consider analysing your webpage traffic as well as your so-called bounce rate. Website and page traffic analysis shows you at the very least how many people access your webpage and how much time they spend on your webpage. Spending time on analysing your website traffic you can also start to examine other things, such as “where” your traffic is coming from, e.g. social media, search engines, or link entry. For example, are people coming from Twitter or Instagram? Did you have a sudden peak of website access after a post or event? Can you derive geopgraphical locations of people accessing your website?
The so called “bounce rate” shows you how long people stay on your webpage and which pages are visited. For example, you would not want people to just visit your landing page and spend a few seconds there before leaving, but have them spent a few minutes on your webpage exploring additional pages and interact with content.
A few tips to achieve this:
1) high quality website (e.g. appealing layout, easy to navigate, satisfactory speed)
2) high quality and relevant content (e.g. well written, few-to-no typos, relevant/interesting)
3) interlink the pages (e.g. previous-next)
Assessing your Twitter traction
I am using Twitter as example here as many scientist use Twitter to connect with other researchers, learn about new things, and engage in science communication. One simple way to evaluate your impact when using Twitter is Twitter Analytics. It is embedded into Twitter, allowing you to examine your number of tweets, tweet impressions, profile visits, and follower changes. Using this toll will allow you to examine your traction as well as which of your tweets are successful and which ones actually fall through the cracks. Similarly, you can use immediate readouts of your tweets: e.g. likes, shares, impressions, total engagements, etc.
As general rule of thumb, if you have not had any tweet interaction within 20 minutes of posting it is very unlikely that your tweet will gain traction at later time points.
Together, spending time on evaluating your visibilty and impact will not only help you assess your current status, but also how to drive it in the future by assessing the things that have a positive or negative impact.