A Guide to Using Social Media for Research Purposes (Version 2) by Matt Holland

This is an updated and revised version of A Guide to Using Social Media for Research Purposes by Matt Holland first published on this blog in March 2016.

This guide takes you though the basics of building a research profile using social media, how to maximise your impact and the tools you can use to assess your impact. If you have any comments or want to add any resources contact Matt.Holland@nwas.nhs.uk

Your Profile

Presenting yourself to others.

Your profile tells the world about you. It makes you easier to find online for like minded researchers.  Your profile should allow you to post details of your publications and the full text if you have the right to do so.  The following suggestions for profile sites have different emphasis.  You could consider creating different profiles for different audiences. See also Your Identity.

ResearchGate [ http://www.researchgate.net ] has many NHS members. See an example [ https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Matt_Holland ].

Mendeley [ http://www.researchgate.net ] has a clear simple profile page and of course gives you access to the Mendeley reference management software. See an example [ https://www.mendeley.com/profiles/matt-holland ].

Academia.edu [ https://www.academia.edu ] aimed at the academic community.

LinkedIn [ http://linkedin.com ] has many NHS members and is a good site for networking with NHS colleagues and others working in the health care.


Katz, M., 2014. How to promote your work on LinkedIn. Available from: http://exchanges.wiley.com/blog/2014/05/01/how-to-promote-your-work-through-linkedin/ [Accessed 26 March 2016].

Posner, M., 2011. Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics. Available from: http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/creating-your-web-presence-a-primer-for-academics/30458 [Accessed 26 March 2016].

Your Communication

Ways to share your ideas, opinions and research.

You need a forum to share information with your audience. As a minimum you need your own Twitter account [ http://twitter.com ] so that you can Tweet and follow the Twitter feeds of other researchers and research organisations. Important too is a blog either on WordPress [ http://wordpress.com ] or Blogger [ http://www.blogger.com ]. Sustaining a blog alone can be hard work and time consuming. Consider contributing to another blog as a guest or share a blog with interested colleagues.

The #hashtag

The #hashtag draws together information from Twitter and across social media. Good use of hashtags is a key social media skill, so add this to your social media tool kit.  Each research community has its own popular hashtags e.g. #FOAMed – open access medical education resources or #prehospital – all about prehospital care.  Hashtags are a dynamic area.  Pick up useful hashtags from other Twitter users, search Google for lists of popular hashtags. Some online tools can suggest hashtags.

Tools to manage your hash tags

#tagboard [ https://tagboard.comFreemium.  Create free tagboards for individual tags that collate information across social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google +, Vine, Flikr). tagboards are customisable, add a graphic for example and you can share. Content can be filtered by social network or content type.

#Twubs [ http://twubs.comFreemium.  Create a Twub and Tweets with that hashtag are feed into a ticker tape style stream. Register with your Twitter account and you can Tweet direct with that hashtag. Designed for events it’s a handy tool to Tweet to or about conferences or other professional gatherings. Twubs has an Embed Tool, if your website can cope with that.

Tools to analyse your hashtags

Keyhole [ http://keyhole.coFreemium.  Analyses a sample of Twitter or Instagram over 24 hours. Again only really effective for tags that have some profile. Very good statistical summary though with clear graphics. 

RiteTag [ https://ritetag.comFreemium.  Analyse your hashtag with a view to checking its value or choosing a better one. RiteTag gives you a really neat organogram to show how your tag relates to other tags. 

Curate your own resources

Showcase your expertise by curating collections of references on your topic and sharing on the web.  There are a number of tools that will help you do this. Mendeley and Sparrho are examples of the different tools you can use to achieve this.

Mendeley Groups [ http://www.mendeley.com ] Free.  Create a group to share your references. e.g. Prehospital Emergency Services Current Awareness Update

Sparrho [ http://sparrho.com ] Free.  Create a channel to search the web for relrevant content and share by curating your own pinboard to e.g. Paramedic Practice


Davies, F., 2015. Tips and Tricks: How to promote your research successfully online. Available from: https://www.altmetric.com/blog/tips-and-tricks-how-to-promote-your-research-successfully-online/ [Accessed 26 March 2016].

Eassom, H., 2014. How to promote your research through blogging. Available from: http://exchanges.wiley.com/blog/2014/08/07/how-to-promote-your-research-through-blogging/ [Accessed 26 March 2016].

The Online Academic. Twitter for academics. A five part guide to using Twitter as an academic. Available from: https://onlineacademic.wordpress.com/social-media-for-academics/twitter-for-academics [ Accessed 14 October 2016 ].   

Your Identity

Managing your researcher identity online.

Managing your identify means using one of a few web based systems to create an alpha numeric tag that uniquely identifies you. This tag links your biographical data to your publications. The benefit to you of identity software is that your can maintain your information in one place and share that data with other systems without having to input it each time it is needed, just by giving your tag or unique ID. For example: 

publishers can drawn down your data for their article submission and publication systems;

your data can be shared with university repositories, research funders online application systems and research assessment systems;

these systems can feed back to your profile enhanced bibliographic data when you publish anything or are successful in a research application.

Which system should you use?

ORCID This system works with major publisher and academic systems and it’s easy to register. You get an ORCiD, private page and control over what data is exchanged and is seen on your public profile. See example [ http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8389-0154 ].

ResearcherID ResearcherID is from Thomson Reuters [ http://www.researcherid.com ]. Researcher ID and ORCiD can work together to exchange data if you have both ID’s. See an example here [ http://www.researcherid.com/rid/A-8600-2008 ].

Scopus ID Scopus ID which is preassigned by Scopus to published authors. You can’t self register. See and example here [ http://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.url?authorId=7201661511 ]. Your are able to correct and update the information attached to your Scopus ID, by contacting Scopus with Updates.


Johnson, R., 2016. Maintaining an Online Scholarly Identity. Available from: http://blog.mathed.net/2016/03/maintaining-online-scholarly-identity.html?m=1 [Accessed 29 March 2016].

Utrect University Library. 2016. Researcher Profiles. Available from: http://libguides.library.uu.nl/researchimpact/profiles [Accessed 26 March 2016].

Making your research findable

Optimising your publications for the internet search engines. 

You can enhance the impact of your writing by making it easy to find by search engines. This is also called Search Engine Optimisation or SEO. Typically, it requires a careful choice of keywords to include in your title, abstract and other article metadata. Metadata is information about your article e.g. author supplied keywords. You may just consider this clear and concise writing. If you look at the readings you can see there is some strategy as well. These lessons might equally apply to blog posts and other types of publication.


Green, A.M., 2013, Search Engine Optimization and Your Journal Article: Do you want the bad news first? Available from: http://exchanges.wiley.com/blog/2013/07/23/search-engine-optimization-and-your-journal-article-do-you-want-the-bad-news-first/ [Accessed 26 March 2016].

Grieves, C., 2015. Maximising the exposure of your research. Search engine optimisation and why it matters. Available from: https://methodsblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/seo/ [Accessed 26 March 2016].

OpenScience, 2014. Why and how should you optimize academic articles for search engines? Available from: http://openscience.com/optimize-academic-articles-search-engines/ [Accessed 26 March 2016].

Your Outputs

Putting your research online.

Setting aside the debate about the effects of Open Access, OA removes barriers between you and your reader so it is easy to share across social media. This section looks at tools to publish your research using the Green (self archiving route). Check publishers conditions on SherpaROMEO. In general you can publish a pre or post print in some form of repository.

Institutional Repositories (IR) If your work is associated a university you can deposit their IR if they have one.

figshare [ https://figshare.com ] allows you to upload posters, data files and presentations. Gives you a DOI to allow you to share your work.

Mendeley [ http://www.mendeley.com ] you can upload your own articles. Mendeley automatically links to these on your Menedley profile page.

PeerJ Preprint Server [ https://peerj.com/preprints ] Upload pre publication versions of papers for feedback. Note there is a basic screening process for Pre prints. See instructions to authors.

ReseachGate [ http://researchgate.net ] acts as a repository with facilities to upload and maintain the full text of your work.


Hoyt, J. & Binfield, P., 2013. Who Killed the PrePrint, and Could It Make a Return? Available from: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/who-killed-the-preprint-and-could-it-make-a-return [Accessed 29 March 2016].

Swoger, B., 2013. Understanding your rights: pre-prints, post-prints and publisher versions. Available from: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/information-culture/understanding-your-rights-pre-prints-post-prints-and-publisher-versions [Accessed 29 March 2016].

Your Impact

Measuring your impact.

You measure your impact by counting mentions of your work or with your published outputs, for example the number of times the full text of your articles are downloaded. Traditionally these impacts or metrics were citation based. However, on the internet all activity is trackable creating a new series of metrics also called altmetrics, for example number of Tweets, mentions on blogs or number of downloads.

Citation Metrics

These tools are free to register and access. The number of citations will vary depending on the dataset from which citations are derived. Google Scholar citations counts tend to be high, ResearcherID lower.

Google Scholar Citations [ http://scholar.google.com ] Tracks your citations and calculates additional metrics e.g. h-index.

ResearchGate (RG) [ http://researchgate.net ] Calculates citations and downloads by RG users. Other metrics such as the RG Score are not widely accepted.

ResearcherID [ http://www.researcherid.com ] Calculates citation metrics.


Altmetric [ https://www.altmetric.com ] calculates article level metrics based tracking a number of sources including social media.

The Altmetrics Bookmarklet for your web browser can automatically calculate Altmetrics for articles with a DOI or PubMed.

ImpactStory [ http://impactStory.org ] Now subscription only but with as 30 day free trial. Draws in bibliographic data from ORCiD, Google Scholar and other sources and generates a profile page where you can track your metrics.

Mendeley [ http://mendeley.com ] records readership statistics, the number of times a reference is saved into a personal library. This is used by some services, such as ImpactStory as a metric.


altmetrics: a manifesto Available from: http://altmetrics.org/manifesto/ [ Accessed 27 March 2016 ]

Matt Holland
NWAS LKS Librarian
October 2016

This entry was posted in Introduction to ..., Resources and Tools, Top Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Guide to Using Social Media for Research Purposes (Version 2) by Matt Holland

  1. Reblogged this on Diario de una documentalista and commented:
    Un buen resumen con los pasos necesarios para tener y utilizar las redes sociales con fines de investigación

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