6 Ways to Build and Extend Your Network as a Scientific Researcher
Making a difference is at the heart of being a scientific researcher. Whether that positive change is life-saving healthcare, combatting climate change or simplifying everyday life, scientific research is all about making a difference. Promoting scientific research effectively is vital for maximising research impact.
As a researcher, you have a responsibility to build a reputation in your field as well as the wider research community. You want to share your research and demonstrate its impact to the world. But it’s also important to promote yourself alongside your outputs. An active researcher presence will improve your chances of being cited in respected journals. It can also aid in finding new collaborators and funding sources, as well as maximising research visibility and impact.
It’s no secret that securing positions and funding is growingly competitive. And building a strong research presence can help with this. Your profile as a scientific researcher is necessary to build relationships and grow and nurture a robust network, which can help with career development and progression.
A strong network is a scientific researcher’s greatest asset. So here are some hot tips for building (and nurturing) a presence as an academic researcher.
1. Generate an online profile
First and foremost, an online presence is essential for a scientific researcher today. As a minimum, you should have a professional profile, which should include:
- Any institutional and industrial affiliations,
- A simple bio with current research projects,
- Any recent publications
- Your contact details.
Typically, academic institutions and research groups have designated web pages to exhibit profiles as well as any recent work and achievements. Additionally, one of the greatest tools for promotion is social media. The most common social media tools for professional use include LinkedIn, Twitter, and ResearchGate. All of these platforms are excellent ways to stay in the know about innovative research both within and outside of your respective field.
So go ahead and set up online profiles for yourself. (And remember to keep them up-to-date!)
2. Engage on social platforms
Now you have an online profile. So, what next? Use it!
Social media is an efficient way to network far and wide. You can follow topics of interest, fellow researchers, research institutions, professional organisations and companies in your field. As such, these platforms can be an effective route to share your work and discover other work occurring in your field.
Connect with those in similar positions and read about what they’re doing. Find people in positions in industry and see how academic research translates to real-world products. Read articles on new discoveries, laws, and policies – things that govern your research.
Inspire yourself and inspire others. Share not only your research, but also your story as a scientific researcher. How did you come to be where you are? Why your field? Why that university? What problems have you faced and how have you overcome them? The life behind the research is just as important as the research itself. Research culture is its own thing that deserves airtime, and social media can be that place to share your voice and incite change.
It’s not only a chance to connect with people online, but also a way to learn about exciting opportunities, including conferences, workshops and seminars, where you can exchange knowledge and build new relationships. Get to know your field beyond just names on journal papers or figureheads on panels. All vital things for research impact and career progression.
Funding and collaborations can be integral to innovative research. And networking can be an effective route beyond traditional ways to secure both funding and professional partnerships. Share your activities and achievements – you never know who is reading! An increasing amount of career opportunities are shared on social media, so make sure you stand out.
To get the most out of social media, you do need to put the time and effort in. Keep your profiles up-to-date and stay in the loop, and before you know it you’ll have a web of contacts all over the world!
3. Make time for networking events
An online profile is only part of building and extending your research network.
Even in this digital age, one of the best ways to share your research is through conferences. Conferences can be single- or multi-day events where scientific researchers showcase their research findings, discuss with fellow researchers, and generate new ideas to explore. These events are great ways to expose yourself to the research community and learn of cutting-edge research happening all around you.
Scientific researchers and professionals of all levels attend these events and it is the perfect opportunity to pick their brains and expand your network. Most talks are followed by Q&A sessions, and most conferences have informal evening events, both of which provide the opportunity to have conversations with fellow attendees. These conversations can be the sharing of opinions, ideas, or advice, and can end with the exchange of contact information for further discussions.
In addition to conferences, other networking events can come in the form of workshops and seminars, where you can share your research in smaller settings. Another excellent way to share your research findings is to present to your own research group. These people who you may share an office or lab with can be a safe network for discussion. More often than not, if you’re having difficulty understanding data or accessing relevant information or equipment, your own research group are an excellent place to start. And they will have connections of their own, so even if they themselves can’t help, chances are they know someone who will. So don’t forget to utilise the skillsets closest to you!
4. Write about your findings
Writing is also vital to building and extending your network. You can do all the lab work and data analysis you want, but if you haven’t got it written down, then people can’t see it. So publish your work, both in traditional and open access journals. Alternatively, write blogs about your research. Get the word (and your name as a scientific researcher) out there! All of this will help you gain recognition, which in turn will attract others in the research ecosystem to check out your work.
5. Get in touch with your outreach team
Often, departments and institutions have designated teams for development and outreach, with their aim to disseminate scientific research to a wider audience. This audience can include fellow researchers, industrial connections, and the general public.
Get to know your outreach team and discuss your research with them. Find ways to include your research in marketing materials, use their industry contacts to start conversations, and get to know the process behind research dissemination. This way, you can expose your research to a wider community for collaboration. Or even have the chance of exposure to foundations and private donors seeking opportunities to fund research.
If your department or institution doesn’t have an office for communications and outreach, you can always reach out to local media outlets, including newspapers, radio networks, or relevant scientific podcasts.
Use the tools at your disposal to continually grow your research network!
6. Create an ORCiD
Finally, an excellent tool for scientific researchers is in the form of an ORCID iD. ORCID is a non-profit organisation with the aim of giving researchers control and recognition of their own work. An ORCID iD is a unique digital identifier for scientific researchers, to distinguish you from every other researcher out there. Your iD can be connected with your professional information – affiliations, grants, publications, peer review, etc. – to ensure that you get credit for all your contributions. The unique identifier’s associated profile stores automatic links to your research and similarly links your research to you. Essentially, ORCiD allows you to spend more time conducting your research and less time managing it!
Written by Ella Cliff. Edited by Jake Mitchell.
Copyrights reserved unless otherwise agreed – IN-PART Publishing Ltd., 2022: ‘6 Ways to Build and Extend Your Network as a Scientific Researcher’
We believe brilliant connections can solve real-world problems. We match research pioneers from academia with decision-makers in industry sectors striving for a greater positive impact.
Our goal is to enable connections from around the world to match academic research with industry on a level playing field. Through our intelligent, matchmaking platform we showcase leading university innovations and connect academics with an international community of decision-makers in industry, creating meaningful dialogue and partnership.
Connect, a digital partnering platform for university-industry collaboration.
250+ universities and research institutes around the world currently showcase their research and innovation on IN-PART to find new collaboration partners in industry. R&D teams get free access to the platform (create an account here). There are no hidden costs and we don’t claim downstream success fees.
Discover, a bespoke scouting service for open innovation.
With the aim of solving a technical requirement or challenge, Discover enables R&D teams to identify new opportunities for commercialisation or to solicit proposals for new research from our extended academic network, which has confirmed touchpoints in 1,500+ universities and institutes worldwide.
Image credit: Nana_studio / Adobe Stock License