Advice for successful academic research – now all in one place!

I’ve published a number of posts over the years on this blog that have provided advice on how to undertake successful academic research. I’ve created a short PDF document that brings six of these posts together in the one place. It is available here: Lupton – Advice for Successful Academic Research.

This is the content of the PDF:

  1. 30 Tips for Successful Academic Research and Publishing
  2. 15 Top Tips for Revising Journal Articles
  3. Ten Tips for Increasing Your Academic Visibility
  4. Tips for Qualitative Researchers Seeking Funding – What Not to Leave Out of Your Grant Applications
  5. Opening Up Your Research – Self-Archiving for Sociologists
  6. Why I Blog

 

Ten tips for increasing your academic visibility

It is important that academic researchers draw attention to their research. We don’t engage in scholarship just for our own benefit. We want others to be aware of and use our research, including those outside the academy. Quite apart from the high value given to factors such as impact, stakeholder engagement and numbers of citations to your work, promoting goodwill and strong networks with your colleagues is important for your flourishing, including feeling part of a community and that you are making a difference.

Here are some ideas for increasing the visibility of your research to as great a range of publics as possible.

  1. Actively use social media: blog, tweet, sign up to Facebook groups of interest or make one of your own to bring like-minded researchers together. Use these networks to publicise your activities – including new publications, calls for papers, and event announcements. Be a good academic citizen and also publicise the outputs and activities of your colleagues – they will likely return the favour.
  2. Sign up to platforms such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu and maintain your profile, updating new publications on it. These platforms provide an easy way for people to request copies of your publications and for you to share them.
  3. Publish preprints and postprints in open access outlets such as your university e-repository, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, Social Science Research Network etc. This will make your work readily accessible for those who can’t access academic journals.
  4. Ensure that you have a Google Scholar profile that lists all your publications and citations. I can’t emphasise enough how important this is to make your publications and citations visible in one place. Google Scholar automatically links to all your open access publications as well, helping people to readily find your work. Important! – ensure that you check your profile regularly to weed out any inaccuracies that the Google Scholar algorithms may have created, such as not including a publication of yours or wrongly attributing someone else’s publications (and citations) to you. An inaccurate Google Scholar profile is not a good look, particularly if it appears that you are taking credit for someone else’s work.
  5. Sign up to Google Scholar alerts for your name – this will mean that every time you are cited, GS will email you a notification. This a fantastic way not only of seeing who is citing you but also how they are using and building on your work.
  6. Create some kind of web presence for your research projects, so that you can share updates, calls for participants, invite feedback on preliminary findings, announce events and list outputs (hopefully with as many as possible available in open access form). Consider including a section that provides resources such as links to other relevant websites and research groups, methods toolkits, curriculum ideas and reading lists.
  7. Take every opportunity to do interviews for mass media outlets and write pieces about your research for forums such as The Conversation.
  8. Make podcasts and videos to talk about your own research or interview other academics working in your area about their research.
  9. Don’t be afraid to self-cite in your publications (particularly if you are female – research shows that women academics are far less likely to cite their own work than are men).
  10. Use a platform like Slideshare to publish your presentation slides.

Edited to add: Also be aware that at times, increased visibility can bring with it unwanted negative attention, particularly if you research contentious or controversial topics that bring out the trolls, and if you are identify with a marginalised or vulnerable social group. If this is you, be careful in your choices about how to communicate your research publicly. (Thanks to Emma Renold for drawing attention to these issues when commenting on this post.)

Tips for qualitative researchers seeking funding – what NOT to leave out of your grant applications

It is grant reviewing season and I’ve been reading through some very interesting applications from some accomplished qualitative researchers in the social sciences and media studies. The rationale and background for projects are usually very well described and justified, as are the track records of the applicants.

But I’ve seen some common areas across several of the applications that need more detail. These are:

  1. There is often not enough (or sometimes even any) information about the approach taken to analysing the qualitative data you are collecting. Simply saying you are ‘using NVivo to analyse the data’ and leaving it at that is not enough. NVivo seems to have become a magic word to use to explain and justify qualitative data analysis. But it is just a data management tool. I want to know what you are going to do with it. There are many approaches to analysing qualitative data. Which approach are you using? Have you had previous experience with this approach? Please justify the reason for your approach and provide some information about what you will be looking for in the data, and why.
  2. If you are recruiting research participants for interviews, focus groups or other types of participation, please provide details of whether you have used your recruitment methods before and how successful they were. I know from experience that recruiting participants can be difficult and time-consuming, and achieving this successfully is crucial to the feasibility of your project. I would like you to explain to me more carefully how you are going to find people, and how you will keep them involved if they are required for more than one activity or you are asking them to be involved over quite a long time in the project.
  3. This issue is particularly important if you are proposing to recruit hard-to-reach or marginalised social groups, and also high-status groups (such as busy professionals, for whom time is money). Here you need to provide even more information about how you will successfully recruit these participants and commit them to be involved. What will persuade them to be part of your study?
  4. Which leads on to the ethics of recruiting participants from marginalised groups, or those you wish to engage in discussions about potentially distressing experiences. How will you persuade these people to want to speak to you? How will you protect them from harm, if you are raising sensitive and distressing issues and inviting them to discuss them with you? How will you protect yourself and other researchers involved in the project from the distress you may yourselves feel at discussing sensitive and very personal issues which may be very sad or otherwise confronting for all involved? I am concerned to see that often these very important issues are not discussed in enough detail, or are even glossed over, as if the applicants do not consider them important or have not considered their implications.
  5. Many qualitative researchers now make statements suggesting that their research will have impact outside universities. Yet here again, often not enough fine details are provided to convince assessors and funders how feasible these claims are. Please tell us more about how this impact will be achieved.
  6. And finally … many major funding bodies now mandate that the publications generated from the projects they fund should be made available open access. Yet very few qualitative researchers demonstrate any awareness of this, or describe how they will meet these requirements. Here again, more detail is required. Will you be depositing your publications into your university’s e-repository? Will you need to ask for funding in your budget to pay journals to publish your accepted manuscript as open access? Please explain your strategy.