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Pavel Iosad and Warren Maguire at http://www.twitter.com

A crucial part of research involves promoting yourself. Self-promotion in academia can allow you to gain recognition for your work, increase your research impact, secure funding and create networks in your field. Self-promotion can be difficult for postdocs because of the power difference between them and their PI, they may be relatively new to the field, have few connections and working on a relatively isolated project.

The ways to promote yourself varies depending on discipline and country, so you need to understand what is acceptable and won’t come across as obnoxious. The best way to do this is to talk to people in your department – ask them how they got on a review panel and how they were invited to give a talk. In this post, I suggest some steps you can take to promote yourself.

In your department

The first step you should take is to make sure everyone in your department knows what you are researching. If your department does weekly lunchtime seminars, this is a great way to get your name out there and tell people what you are doing. You are also likely to get asked questions and be given feedback, which may be very useful.

Also, if you do a task for someone else, own up to it. Put your name on it if you can. This will ensure you are recognised for your work in your department.

Staff Quote:

Recognise your achievements…The perfect postdoc would have the fawning admiration of all her peers, but the real world doesn’t work like that. In academia, you can’t expect your colleagues to magically divine the amount of effort you’ve put in to something. If you receive a compliment, say thank you, but never be afraid to take ownership of your work.” (Postdoc Researcher at the University of Edinburgh’s Veterinary School).

Outside of your department

Conferences are a great way to raise your profile and make sure people know about your research. Networking at these events may provide you with new contacts with people who are interested in your work.

Giving talks at different institutions is also a great way to get your name out there. Ideally, you’ll be invited to give a talk, but this is uncommon unless you have had a few major papers. It might be appropriate to mention that you are interested in giving talks to your PI, as they may recommend you for talks they have been invited to but can’t attend.

Use you connections. If you are spending a few days in a city for a conference, ask someone in a local university whether they’d like you to talk. It’s unlikely that they will say no (departments are always looking for cheap speakers and they may even pay for your accommodation).

I’m aware that these methods all involve you ‘putting yourself out there’, which may be a nightmare for some people. Social media is also a great way to increase your online visibility inside and beyond your department. It can be useful to:

  • Make new networks and communicate with someone instantly
  • Collaborate internationally
  • Feel less isolated
  • Get your next job
  • Maintain networks and connections

An increasing number of researchers have their own websites including their current projects, research interests, CV and description. If someone googles your name, this would be the site that comes up first. It’s also important to ensure that your details on LinkedIn profile and your institution’s website are up to date.

If you use social media, make sure you make it very clear which sites are professional and personal. On your professional account, tell people about your current research and share new ideas. For example, the photo above shows how two linguistics researchers at the University of Edinburgh are using twitter to allow the public/students/other researchers to engage with their research. Social media is being used to promote research, so you should too. Some social media platforms will also allow you to receive comments, which people can use to give feedback and mention further ideas.

Blog by Andy Miah at LSE Top 5 social media platforms for research development

I hope this post made you think about what you have done so far to promote yourself and what you can do now to broaden your networks and increase your impact. Next week is the last week of my internship, so I’ll give you an overview of the exciting things I’ve been doing over the past 10 weeks!

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