5 Tips to Amplify the Impact of Your Scholarly Work

Individuals, departments and institutions are increasingly concerned with understanding and evaluating scholars, their output and productivity, as well as the impact of their scholarly work.  If you are an instructor or researcher, your own personal curiosity may lead you to search for strategies to demonstrate impact, or it may be a requirement for academic promotion, or to get tenure.  Here are 5 ways you can increase the impact of the work you do.

1. Make your work available to as wide an audience as possible

Making your work (or some version of it) open access is a great way to increase impact. Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of scholarly work, coupled with the rights specified by the scholar to reuse this work. Indiana University provides the IUScholarWorks and IUScholarWorks Open repositories to help scholars disseminate and preserve their work.  Works deposited in these repositories are assigned a permanent identifier that will not change over time, as well as descriptive keywords to make works discoverable to others. 

IUScholarWorks Open hosts articles published after February 2017 that are subject to the Indiana University Bloomington Faculty Open Access PolicyIUScholarWorks is a wider repository that is designed to host, preserve, and make discoverable a variety of scholarly work by any IU affiliate (e.g. white papers, presentations, data, educational materials, research articles,  poster presentations, etc.).

In addition, IU Libraries provides open access journal publishing options.  IUScholarWorks Open Journals is a suite of over 55 journals that offer open access publishing in a variety of disciplines such as education, vascular medicine, optometry history, digital heritage, newborn developmental care, languages, folklore, disability studies, and interdisciplinary undergraduate research.

2. Manage your scholarly identity and promote your work

Managing your online scholarly identity is an important strategy for scholarly impact – research offices and employers increasingly look at online profiles as a surrogate CV, and some services are already tracking and collating the work of scholars and generating impact profiles.  Two easy first steps in taking charge of your online identity are creating an ORCID iD and a Google Scholar profile. 

An ORCID iD is a persistent numeric identifier that is unique to you. Using ORCID connects you with a trusted record of your education and employment affiliation, and work that you have contributed including presentations, publications, or educational materials.  You can use the permanent identifier provided by IUScholarWorks in ORCID, so that others can access your work. Go to www.orcid.org  or consult our ORCID Libguide: guides.libraries.indiana.edu/Orcid-IU.  

Google Scholar is a tool that can be used to keep track of your own publications, and publications that cite your work. It can help you increase search engine optimization (SEO), and make your work more discoverable. Google Scholar indexes material deposited in IUScholarWorks and can send you an alert when it indexes work that should be attributed to you. For more information see https://libraries.indiana.edu/google-scholar.  If you already have a Google Scholar profile, review it to ensure that the record of your work is accurate and up to date.  

Many academics also social media and social sharing platforms to promote their work.  You can write a short plain-language summary of your work and include your IUScholarWorks permanent identifier so that others can review the work for themselves. You can also include your ORCID iD so that potential readers can see the full range of work that you have done.

3. Make an impact plan

The beginning of a semester is a great time for forward planning.  An impact plan should include:

  • The factors you will be evaluated on.
  • One or more achievable goals for your scholarly work over the semester.
  • Strategies and tools to help you increase, track and document the impact of that work.
  • A roadmap detailing steps and timeframes to implement the strategies and tools.

4. Learn what quantitative and qualitative indicators are suitable for evaluating your work and how they might be used

Best practice in scholarly evaluation recommends using multiple indicators to provide a more robust picture of attention, influence, and impact.

A common metric is citation counts, or the number of times that a published work has appeared in the reference list of research articles or books. This metric is best used in evaluating the usefulness of research articles, books, and datasets, but citations take time to accrue, and a work may be cited to critique or disparage it rather than for its usefulness.  Journal Impact factor is a venue-level measure reflecting the annual average number of citations of recent articles published in that journal. It can be useful in comparing the relative influence of journals within a discipline but is not a good indicator of the quality or usefulness of individual articles or authors.

Altmetrics include item views, downloads, media coverage, government policy mentions, and social media mentions.  These track attention, but are not accurate indicators of whether someone has actually read your work. Some social sharing sites (Mendeley, Academia.edu) offer readership statistics – again, this does not track actual reading but rather the number of users who have added an article into their personal library.

Altmetric providers and some repositories also track a user’s geographic location when they access an item.  While this can illustrate the geographic reach of a scholarly work, it can be affected by the use of VPN (virtual private networks) and some ISP (internet service provider) practices that mask users’ true locations

Qualitative indicators are equally important and may include:

  • Invitations e.g. to speak, facilitate, intervene, exhibit or consult
  • Grant funding
  • Patents/Licenses
  • Changes in professional or technical standards
  • Incorporation in workflows or implementation in your field
  • Participant feedback

IU librarians can help you use appropriate indicators to create a narrative around the scholarly contributions that are most valuable to you to make your case for scholarly excellence.

5. Consult with a Librarian

IU librarians will partner with you to:

  • Manage your online scholarly identity
  • Increase the visibility of your work.
  • Incorporate practices within your teaching and scholarship to facilitate gathering data on impact.
  • Understand how metrics and altmetrics are calculated and used, their benefits and limitations, and how to apply them to your work.
  • Identify and use qualitative indicators of impact.
  • Recommend other relevant services such as IU Libraries CV Service openscholarship.indiana.edu/oa-cv-service.   

To learn more about the impact services offered by IU Libraries, review our impact services page, or contact the Scholarly Communication Department at iusw@indiana.edu.