Researchers spend countless hours drafting, revising, and perfecting their manuscripts before submission. Historically, the efforts end when a journal publishes the final version. However, in today’s scholarly publishing world, over 2 million articles are published each year, and savvy researchers are finding other ways to ensure that their work is noticed. Among the many possible avenues to share research, Twitter stands out as a fast and easy solution. Here are a few suggestions for using Twitter to find new readers (and potential citations):
Build a network of colleagues in your field
To have the best chance of reaching interested people, focus on building a network of researchers in your area of study. Chances are you know a couple of people on Twitter, so start by following them and telling them that you are on Twitter, too. Ask around at your next department meeting; you may be surprised who already has a Twitter account (after all, 1 in 40 scholars is active on Twitter). Colleagues with similar research interests are the most likely to give you good feedback on new work and to eventually cite you.
Engage with influencers in the scholarly publishing world
Chances are that you and your closest colleagues do not have very many Twitter followers. It can take a significant amount of time to cultivate a strong following. So if you can’t reach very many people directly, what can you do? For one, find influencers in your field. Influencers are people with strong followings (hundreds or even thousands of Twitter followers). Engage in conversations with these people, and offer links to your research if it is something that might interest them. Getting your comments or work retweeted by someone with a strong presence on Twitter can greatly increase your reach. Of course, you don’t want to just start tweeting your papers directly to an influencer; take the time to respond to their tweets and show an interest in their thoughts.
Choose a journal that actively shares new papers already
A number of journals are active on Twitter; Methods in Ecology and Evolution actually requires authors to provide a “tweetable” abstract of 120 characters. If your work is accepted by one of these journals, they will likely help you spread the news. Even if the journal that published your work is not on Twitter, you can share your work with other journals publishing related material. Again, you don’t want to simply spam every possible journal with tweets, but if your work is relevant to an article tweeted by a journal in your field, let them know.
Twitter is not a magic bullet, and there is no obvious correlation between Twitter mentions and subsequent citations at this time. Still, taking a few seconds to share a link could lead to hundreds of new readers, and you never know if one of them will be extremely interested in what they see.