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Tools for Authors: Enhancing Your Impact

This libguide provides guidance for authors in support of their scholarship efforts.

Tips for Authors

  • Establish (or “brand”) your presence
  • Utilize strategies for discoverability
  • Consider multiple avenues of dissemination for various audiences
  • Document your outputs and activities
  • Think beyond the journal article
  • Track your work
  • Go beyond numbers to tell your story

Why Does Enhancing Your Impact Matter?

How can authors optimize their dissemination and enhance their research in order to demonstrate quantifiable and meaningful indicators of impact that transcend traditional scientific output measures? What strategies can authors utilize to reach audiences such as funding organizations, colleagues, healthcare providers, policy-makers, students, governmental bodies, the media, consumers, professional organizations and potential clinical trial participants? What options are available for authors to promote resource sharing and publishing productivity?

 

See the Strategies for Enhancing Research Impact box.

Why is enhancing your research important?

>Confirm and validate research findings
>Time-stamp for documenting research findings
>Build upon existing knowledge base
>Inform researchers and clinicians of updated research findings
 >Spur ideas for further areas of research
 >Report to industry of findings that could lead to useful clinical applications
>Inform the community of potential new health interventions
 >Share with clinical research trial participants the results of the research in which they participated
>Inform policy-makers of findings in order to effect change in health care policy and practice

Strategies for Enhancing Research Impact

Establish Your Profile and Identity

  • Authors are highly recommended to use the same variation of their name consistently throughout the course of their academic studies and future professional activities. If the name is a common name, consider adding a middle name to distinguish it from other authors or changing the name itself. Consistency enhances retrieval and helps to disambiguate author names in databases. Uniqueness of a name helps establishes a “presence” for an author. See Establishing Your Author Name and Presence for more information.
  • Register for an ORCID ID. Registering for an ORCID identifier helps to promote discoverability among multiple information platforms and workflows as well as establishing a unique presence for researchers and scholars, regardless of name variants or affiliation history. Registration for the ORCID ID is free and privacy settings are controlled by the individual. See Create an ORCID ID, Add Information, Import Works and Connectivity.
ORCID provides a universal, non-proprietary solution by linking your publications/research activities to you.
  • Check the website of the academic or research institution you are affiliated with to make sure that your name is noted correctly.
  • Check out the Author Identifier feature in the SCOPUS database. The SCOPUS database addresses the issue of author name variants and reconciles authors who use different variations of their names throughout their careers. Authors are highly recommended to review their profile in SCOPUS to confirm the profile is correct, and set up alerts for their works. Authors can contact SCOPUS to request corrections to their name profile. See How do I request corrections to author details?or contact Cathy Sarli for corrections.
  • Authors are highly encouraged to use a standardized version of an affiliation address using no abbreviations. The Washington University Style Guide provides guidance on how to note your affiliation and related information.

Enhance Discoverability and Dissemination

  • Cultivate a series of academic and professional networks by participating in committees or other related activities. Volunteer for conference-related activities, participate in committees that issue position statements or clinical guidelines, act as a reviewer or Editor-in-Chief for a journal, serve as a mentor, develop relationships with policy-makers on the state or national level, be part of a team for conducting a systematic review, teach a Continuing Education class, serve as a grant application reviewer, participate in responsible conduct of research or curriculum committees affiliated with an academic or institution, serve on Institutional Review Boards or committees for animal studies, and other related activities.
  • Follow reporting guidelines appropriate to your area of research. See the Guidelines for Reporting of Research box.
  • Post a CV online and make it publicly available for others to view. One way to post a CV is to use the NIH Biosketch tool SciENcv available via NCBI.  
  • Publish as much as possible. Publication productivity demonstrates willingness to share research findings and helps foster knowledge transfer. See Selecting a Journal for Publication for guidance on selecting an appropriate journal.
  • Present preliminary research findings at conferences or other symposia. Conferences are an excellent venue for disseminating new research findings and enhancing your visibility. 
  • Formulate a concise, well-constructed title and abstract for a work. The title is your hook to grab the attention of readers. A declarative title is recommended. Include crucial keywords (both natural language and controlled vocabulary words) in the abstract. Most databases allow for searching of words noted in a title and an abstract, and secondly, a clear abstract allows users to quickly discern the basis of the work when reviewing a list of results generated by a search query. It is recommended that authors construct an abstract that includes as many specific keywords that summarize the content of the work. What is the work about? Be specific in describing the work to enhance retrieval of the work in databases and search engines. 
See the classic 1947 work by Dr. Estelle Brodman “How to Write a Paper” on the importance of a title.
  • Review the publisher copyright form for a manuscript and retain as many rights to the work that to allow for maximum flexibility to re-use the work.
  • Consider the desired audience when choosing a journal for publication.  Topic-specific journals or journals published by a specialized society may disseminate research results on a topic more efficiently to a desired audience than general science journals, such as Nature or Journal of the American Medical Association. More specialized journals, even with a potentially smaller readership, may offer an author broader dissemination of relevant research results to their peers in their specific field of research. 
  • Publish “negative” as well as positive research findings. Publication of negative findings leads to further applicability of research and prevents others from duplicating research.  
  • Publish a manuscript in a journal that is currently indexed by PubMed/MEDLINE. Citations in PubMed/MEDLINE are “crawled” by Google Scholar which can help promote the visibility and accessibility of a work.
  • Consider publishing a work in an open access journal. Open access journals allow authors to retain rights to the work that allow for many options for further dissemination of the research.
  • Publish negative research findings. The Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal that provides a platform for the publication and discussion of unexpected, controversial, provocative and/or negative results in the context of current tenets.
  • Self-archive the final, peer-reviewed manuscript version of a journal articles in an institutional repository. Many major academic or research institutions have institutional digital repositories that archive the work of authors affiliated with the institution. Some institutional digital repositories allow for creation of specific online communities that showcase the research output of an author or group such as a research study, a department or a center. Digital Commons@Becker is the institutional repository for the School of Medicine and accepts most file formats including white papers, podcasts, slide presentations, posters, among others. Please contact Amy Suiter for more information.
  • Consider making your figures available through FigShare and your presentation materials available in your institutional repository or on a sharing site such as SlideShare so that others may discover and share your materials post-event. You might also consider submitting your content to a permanent, citable archive such as F1000Posters.
  • If the work relates to a research study, create a website devoted to the research study and post materials such as peer-reviewed versions of manuscripts of journal publications, conference abstracts, supplemental materials such as images, illustrations, slides, or specimens, progress reports, to name a few. Authors are encouraged to review any copyright forms to confirm that they have the right to post materials on an institutional website. If the right to post a manuscript on an institutional website cannot be obtained, create links to the manuscript from your website using the PMID from a PubMed/MEDLINE citation or persistent URLs/DOIs that link directly to the publisher’s website.  If the research study involves work that may be of interest to consumers or potential clinical trial participants, provide information tailored for the layperson.
  • If there is a website related to a research study, website developers should utilize SEO (search engine optimization) strategies to enhance retrieval of materials by search engines such as Google.  The web developer should confirm that the web page titles describe the content of the website and include the name of the research study. Metatags that note appropriate keywords should be included in the page header section. Search engines look at this “hidden content” and use this as a basis for search results page rankings.
  • Add your works to platforms such as Zendodo, Mendeley, or Citeulike and start a “library” of publications related to a research project or by author and share the research project library with others.
  • If a work pertains to potential translational medicine applications, consider including a discussion of how the research could translate into clinical outcomes. This may provide insight for policy-makers as to the potential impact of the research study. See the Aims and Scope section of Translational Research: The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine for guidance on how to include potential translational medicine applications in your manuscript.
  • Start a blog devoted to the research project. Check out ResearchBlogging.org which is a site that allows bloggers to write about peer-reviewed research, but also to share that work with readers and bloggers around the world to learn about cutting-edge research developments. Need help? See "How to Write a Blogpost From Your Journal Article."
  • Create a podcast or video describing the research project and submit the podcast to YouTube. Many major academic or research institutions have created their own YouTube channels and provide video services at no charge. Washington University School of Medicine’s YouTube channel has many examples of videos created by authors.
  • Issue press releases for significant findings and partner with the institutional media office to deliver findings to local media outlets. Be willing to provide interviews with the media that explain the research study or area of research.
  • Tweet about your research. Many authors use Twitter to announce new publications or other research products. Include the DOI or a link to your article along with text to announce a new article.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and many others offer unique opportunities to connect and communicate with people across the globe.

Contact the Office of Medical Public Affairs prior to launching any social media initiatives.

  • Conduct outreach visits or provide seminars to other institutions/scientists, policy-makers, practicing physicians, consumers and health care providers to discuss a research study or topic related to current research efforts.
  • Collaborate with authors and researchers from other institutions and from other subject areas.
  • If the nature of the work is clinical, consider discussing clinical issues that arise with research investigators to help identify possible new areas of research to undertake, or vice versa. Such collaborative efforts help to accelerate translational research efforts.
  • Publish in trade journals. Trade journals allow for a greater audience reach such as clinicians, consumers, policy-makers and industry. Increase awareness of your research beyond academia.
  • Document all forms of research outputs such as journal articles, outreach visits, research data, conference materials, patents, etc. Keeping track of research outputs is crucial to documenting impact of research. See the Assessing the Impact of Research website to learn more about documenting the impact of research.