Researcher Visibility: Research Impact
We can all agree that our visibility is closely linked to our reputation, our network and making an impact. Generally our visibility as a researcher is linked to our professional qualification, seniority, publications, citations, and H-index. Additionally, our research focus also influences our visibility, for example if you work on something very niche your audience will naturally be smaller in comparison to working on something with a broader audience. However, in addition to all these factors, we can also make a conscious effort to drive visibility ourselves.
Research impact is the contribution that research makes to stakeholders beyond your immediate academic surrounding.
Impact: Is the change that happens based on your research and actions.
Pathways to impact: Steps taken to achieve and foster research impact.
Relevance: Importance or significance of your work.
Scale: The reach of your work.
Types of impact
Academic: Contribution to knowledge, protocols, and education, making a change in your field.
Cultural: Changes in behaviour, opinion, or attitude.
Economic: Changes in costs, procedure changes, profits, and funding.
Environmental: Changes in environmental benefits, nature, habitats, conservation, and preservation.
Social: Changes in (improving) circumstances and education, including health and wellbeing.
Policy: Changes in guidelines and laws.
Technology: Changes in procedures, patents, and knowledge exchange.
Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic it became clear how important research impact is; including the understanding and communication of disease progression, medications, modelling of virus spread, and the search for a vaccine. Similarly, the need for science communication became increasingly clear with wanting the general public to understand highly complex topics, such as what is a virus, R rate, vaccine, antibodies, and immunity.
Visibility as researcher
Being a visible researcher with established networks and collaborations can increase our opportunities, such as invitations for talks, panel discussions, and research projects. Similarly, being a visible researcher can serve as a platform to engage with patients and the public. Additionally, our visibility will in one way or another influence our chances for funding. For example, (a) when submitting an application, the members of interview panels are very likely to search for you on the internet, (b) our visibility can give context to our interests and competencies, and (c) if people know about our research they are more likely to cite our work. Thus, visibility can increase our research impact.
Taking active steps
Taking active steps to managing our visibility as researcher will benefit us in the short as well as the long run. Especially with the various internet platforms being available, one can increase their visibility to audiences worldwide and 24/7 very easily.
Another motivation to use internet platforms is the variety of mediums available, allowing you to find the channels you are most comfortable with or practice certain skills. This is exemplified by blogs, allowing informal non-academic language, or using Twitter, which requires you to be extremely concise.
So, independent of your motivation and which medium you choose, increasing your visibility as researcher can help you practice your communication skills, increase your network, and provide you with new opportunities.