The need for dissemination of early-stage research is gaining in importance, but what are best practices for distribution and how do you ensure your research can be easily accessed? The conference has long been the primary vehicle for alerting your community to these preliminary findings. But the value of conferences for this purpose has real limitations. Researchers must be able to both attend and present, and a host of conflicting sessions and priorities compete for attendees’ time and focus. Most of all, there is a lack of standardized tracking of conference content and the inability to search, access, and reference the material post-conference. Here are three practical strategies perfect for a time where in-person meetings are impossible. Better yet, they’re ideas we should embrace well beyond the COVID-19 era for maximum research dissemination.
1. Availability – not all outlets are created equally. When thinking about posting your posters or presentations online, if it’s not discoverable, it is of limited use. To be discoverable, some basic best practices of online publishing should be applied. Most critically, the assignment of a DOI allows for reliable linking, searching, organization, and tracking – not just today, but well into the future, providing you with a traceable path from early stage research through to final publication.
2. Promotion – learning to build your own personal brand allows you to drive the amplification of your own research. In today’s digital environment, there are many easy outlets you can use. First, make sure you have and use your ORCID ID to pave the way for easy tracking and organization of all your research. Then make use of social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn and society, university, or discipline-based networking sites, to highlight your research and connect with peers. For those who want to take it a step further, establishing your own branded webpage and developing a blog where you can discuss your findings publicly is another way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your community.
3. Networking – broadening and developing your community is a goal for every researcher looking to establish their career, find mentors, and develop collaborative relationships. These networks serve as established pipelines for dissemination of your early stage research as well. Joining your professional society and then volunteering to assist or participating in society activities with leaders in your field helps identify you as a leader, too. Engaging with your network by email, through interactive virtual discussion groups, Slack channels, and social media chats will help further amplify your work.
In this unprecedented time of social distancing and massive conference cancellations, researchers are being challenged to share their work absent in-person interactions. Doing so with these practical strategies in mind will ensure that early stage research is distributed as broadly as possible and has the maximum impact on future scientific developments. Even when physical conferences return to the landscape, researchers can benefit from supplementing conference attendance with these strategies. Ensuring the widest possible dissemination and conversation around your research doesn’t just help you; it helps advance the scientific process.
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