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Beyond publication: 5 science communication tips to maximise your research impact


An image of a train with a puff of smoke saying 'You are on track to maximum impact'

Congratulations! Your manuscript has just been accepted for publication! 🙌


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Whoop Whoop!

You have poured countless hours into conducting experiments, analysing data, and writing your findings into an informative research paper.


You have dealt with rejection after rejection, re-formatted the manuscript for each different journal and have overcome the picky comments of Reviewer 2. 💪


Now the day is finally here. You received the acceptance email. Your research is going to be published!!


... yet all you feel is relief.

Relief that it is over. 😪


But the journey doesn’t end here. In fact, this is just the beginning. The beginning of a remarkable opportunity to amplify the reach of your findings, and maximize your research impact. ✨


Here we showcase our top 5 tips for going beyond publishing, to disseminate your research to a wider audience, spark conversations, and to make a lasting impression in the scientific community and beyond.



1. 📝 Collaborate with your institute's communication team and write a media release


Once your paper has the green light 🚦 the first thing you should consider is writing a media release!


Crafting a compelling media release can generate interest and encourage potential media coverage for your research, significantly amplifying the impact of your work.


Several studies have shown that papers covered by the media receive more citations and have an increased altmetrics, compared with those without media attention. 🤯


I know I know, but you just wrote a whole paper! And writing a media release sounds time-consuming and challenging. Plus who can distill that much complex science down into a few paragraphs anyway?


Well, a science communicator can! 🤩 Did you know that most large institutes have an entire communication team dedicated to do just that? They are skilled in translating complex research into accessible language for broader audiences.


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So reach out and collaborate with your institute's communication team, leveraging their expertise and network of journalists.


A well-positioned media release can help your research gain visibility beyond the academic community. 💫 Think policymakers, industry professionals, and the obvious, the public. 😉


Your research could be picked up by:

  • Online news articles

  • Radio segments

  • Newspapers

  • Television news slots

  • Podcasts

  • Blogs

Media coverage is incredible exposure for you and your research.

Need more reasons to write a media release? Here we cover 7 key reasons to write a media release. 📝



Tips for composing your media release:

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Collaborate Early


Do not wait, I repeat, DO NOT WAIT until your paper is published to get in contact with your institute’s communication team. It will be too late! ⏳


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Ideally, you want the media release to align with the publication day of your paper. 📆 So engage your institute's communication team early!


This allows ample time to identify a compelling narrative, write the media release, review the media release, compile visuals and reach out to journalists that may be interested in picking up the story.



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Craft a Clear Message


Create a concise, understandable message that captures the significance of your findings.


Think BIG PICTURE!


Work closely with the communication team, they are well versed in finding the best angle for the general public and media. Identify relevant media outlets, journalists, and platforms that align with the scope and impact of your research. Then tailor the media release to suit their interests.


Remember, you want to strike the perfect balance between accessibility and accuracy.⚖


Journalists have a tendency to oversell, so be sure that the significance is clear.

Did you just cure cancer? Or is this the first step in understanding a new therapeutic target?



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Prepare Engaging Visuals


There is no denying that the media love beautiful and informative visuals. Visually appealing elements can attract attention and make your release more memorable and shareable. ✨


So what sort of visuals should you include with your media release?

  • A scientific image (No not complex graphs, but stunning immunohistochemistry, yes 😍).

  • Photos of you, the researcher, in the lab working hard! 👨🏽‍🔬👩🏼‍🔬

  • Videos or illustrations that showcase your key message.



2. 📱Harness the power of social media

In today's digital age, social media platforms are an invaluable tool for researchers to disseminate their research.


Social media allows for immediate engagement and interaction both with scientific communities and other professionals around the world. A strong online presence can lead to valuable networking opportunities with other researchers, clinicians, journalists, policymakers, and the public, including those affected by your research.


If done well, social media can significantly increase the impact and visibility of your research. Studies have shown that scientific articles that were associated with a tweet received on average three times more citations and a higher altmetric score. 🤯



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Bye! Running to go post on social media.

Furthermore, researchers who actively engage on social media have reported:

  • Increased collaboration opportunities

  • Media coverage

  • Career advancement.

So let’s talk about how you can get the most out of social media. 👇



Tips for science communication on social media:

Icon of social media platforms; Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Research Gate

Select the right platform(s) and actively contribute


First, identify social media platforms that align with your research area and target audience. Different platforms have varying strengths and user demographics, so select those that best suit your goals.


Common platforms for science include Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and ResearchGate.

Now, for social media posts to be effective, you need to actively contribute and build your presence. 🤳


Don’t be me! Don’t just create an account, leave it untouched for years and then jump on to post about your new paper and expect it to reach far and wide.


To get the most from social media, you should:

  • Actively participate in discussions

  • Like and comment on other relevant posts

  • Offer thoughtful perspectives

  • Share insights related to your research field

  • And of course share funny memes 😂


Remember social media algorithms prioritise posts with a lot of engagement, especially from people you interact with a lot. In other words, the more you contribute and interact with others, the more visible your posts will be to them, resulting in more likes and comments, which compounds increasing your reach further and further. ✨



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Leverage relevant hashtags


#Hashtags!


They used to be huge. People would use 20-30 hashtags in an attempt to maximise their reach. 🙄


Hashtags don’t have the same power they once did, but they definitely still have their place, increasing the discoverability of your work and attracting those interested in your area of study.


So how many should you include, you ask? It’s dependent on the platform, as each algorithm ranks hashtags differently. But a good rule of thumb nowadays is to include 2-3 relevant hashtags.



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Tag influential individuals and organisations


Another tip is to mention relevant influential individuals or organizations.


Tag your institute, tag major collaborators, tag away!


This is such an easy way to extend the reach of your work!

Institutes often have a large following, and if you tag them they just might share your post. Especially if you have a stellar visual! 😉


Same goes for your collaborators, share your research is easy since you have done all the hard work.



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Create captivating content


This tip flows on from the previous idea of contributing! Create concise, visually appealing posts that will resonate with your audience.


People are inherently a little bit self involved and will engage with posts that they themselves can relate to. So keep your posts relevant to a specific audience. You may be targeting other PhD students, so you might post a funny relatable meme. Like this one. 😂


PhD to-do list meme


Or you might be targeting the general public who don’t have a scientific background, so be sure to avoid jargon and scientific terminology to maximise accessibility.


Use a range of mediums such as images, graphics and short videos, to increase engagement and shareability. Couple that with a compelling caption to give your posts more value. Easier said than done!


Now for sharing your published manuscript specifically, we recommend you create a visual summary, like a graphical abstract, which makes people stop scrolling, read more and share your work with their followers. Which brings us to our next point. 👇



3. ✨ Create an awesome graphical abstract

Yep, if you didn’t have to create a graphical abstract to get your paper over the line, we recommend you to make one now.


And no we promise it’s not a waste of your time! 🙅


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If you’re not familiar with a graphical abstract, it’s essentially a visually engaging and concise representation of your research paper's key findings.


Seeing is believing! 👀


A graphical abstract serves as a powerful tool to capture readers' attention, communicate complex concepts quickly, and entice them to explore your research article in detail.


Studies have shown that articles with a graphical abstract receive double the number of article reads annually, and a 120% increase in citations in comparison to those without a visual abstract! Furthermore, social media engagement and retweets were significantly higher for papers with a visual abstracts. 😉


So in addition to making an instant visual impact, and communicating your main message quickly, graphical abstracts also significantly increase the reach of your paper!


So how do you make an amazing graphical abstract? Well, we have previously written the ultimate guide to designing an effective graphical abstract and have showcased our favourite examples of graphical abstracts. You’re welcome! 😉


So here is just a brief recap of our tips below!


Tips to make a stellar graphical abstract:

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Capture the Essence


The point of a graphical abstract is to pique your audience’s attention, and leave them wanting more so they go and read the whole paper. 📃



But how??


Distill the core message and key finding into a concise visual representation. Think 80 words or less!


Focus on:

  • The central concept you want to convey

  • The most significant result(s)

  • The essence of your study

Now the hope is that your graphical abstract will be shared far and wide, so ensure you include a direct link to the paper so altmetrics can count it!



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Tell a Story


If you have been a loyal reader of ours you would know that we are huge advocates of storytelling, in particular we love the And - But - Therefore template from Randy Olson.



It is just such an easy method to employ, and perfect for a graphical abstract:

  • ‘And’ provides the context (or background if you will).

  • ‘But’ provides drama, hooking in the reader (most likely your knowledge gap)

  • ‘Therefore’ brings your story to a resolution (ie results and conclusions).

Example of how to use the And, but, therefore template

You want to structure your writing in a logical sequence that tells a compelling narrative, and a graphical abstract is a prime example. Lead the reader from the introduction to the research question to the results, and conclusion in a visually cohesive manner.



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Create a captivating design


Ahhh! To the fun part, and maybe even the most crucial.


IMAGES



Did you know fact, stating that people remember 80% of what they see, but only 20% of what they read.

The human brain processes images in only 150 milliseconds! 🤯 It’s no wonder people can remember images better.


Take time to select the right visual to best represent your research. Photos, illustrations or diagrams, ensure they are high-quality and effectively convey the main points of your research. You can outsource modifiable images legally through The Creative Commons Search Engine, or you can create your own graphic from scratch. 😮


Next the design. Keep the layout simple, clear, and visually appealing. 🎨 Use legible fonts, a coherent colour scheme, intuitive icons, and negative space.


And there you have it an attention-grabbing graphical abstract, to leave a lasting impression on the scientific community and beyond.



4. 👀 Increase research visibility through conferences


Conferences! People often forget about conferences. 🙈 But they are the perfect way to showcase your exciting research to the scientific community.


Poster presentations, webinars, and even the 3MT competition allows you to share your work, connect with fellow researchers, and enhance the visibility of your research findings.


There are lot’s of conference presentation do’s and dont’s.


But once your paper is accepted, the timing’s perfect to submit an abstract to all those conferences you’ve been waiting for.


It can be difficult to present a study still in it’s infancy, as it might feel like you don’t have any ‘good’ data. And if you do have ‘good’ data you might be worried that someone will poach your paper before you publish. Then once it’s published it’s a ticking clock, before the ‘novelty’ expires.


But after your paper is accepted is just right as Goldilocks would say! So let’s dive in to how to get the most out of your next conference.



Tips for maximising impact at your next conference:

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!


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What exactly do we mean when we say prepare?

Let’s break it down.


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Prepare for your audience


Consider carefully who your audience is and cater accordingly. Do not just copy and paste sections from your paper.


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You want to pique your audience's attention from the beginning, use an analogy or some cool data visualisation to keep them hooked. Tailor your language and take your audience with you on this journey, so they don’t miss the point.


Side note: the type of audience may affect how you dress, and the kind of visuals you include. So prepare in advance. You want to look professional and exude confidence. But the dress code for a talk at a primary school will be very different a keynote directed at policy makers at a gala dinner. 💃



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Prepare a stellar written abstract


Your conference abstract not only determines if you will be selected for your preferred presentation or win an award, it’s often how delegates decide if they want to visit your poster or attend your presentation.


Conference booklets and apps, are like a shopping catalog providing a sneak-peek of your work, plus it’s the one thing delegates take away at the end of the day.


So make it shine! ✨


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Prepare a flawless presentation


Preparation is key! We have so many great blogs on how to create your scientific poster and how to improve your public speaking. So ill keep this brief.


Design and organise your content in a simple and logical manner. Highlight just the key aspects of your research. Less is more! Prioritise the main finding(s) and emphasise why it’s unique, a novel methodology, or a significant implication, ensuring that the audience can easily grasp the information presented.


Use the beloved And - But - Therefore template to tell a compelling narrative, and prepare complimentary, attention grabbing visuals to aid in the understanding of your research.


Then practice over and over to ensure a smooth delivery. ⏱️


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Network, Network, Network!


Everything is better in threes.


At one of my first big conferences, I was lucky enough to have met one of the big shot professors, and he gave me a piece of advice I’ve never forgotten. 👇

Best advice, at every conference try to make 3 new meaningful connections

Essentially, go talk to three people you have never met before, could be an inspiring professor, a busy clinician or a student, it doesn’t matter who. Make a real connection!


Conferences are fantastic at bringing together world renowned researchers, scholars, and experts from various disciplines and institutions. 🌍 Rather than make small talk with dozens of people. The idea is to spark up a conversation and leave a lasting impression with just three people. Sounds doable, right?!


Then follow up. Connect via social media, tag them in a post about the conference, email them with a follow up question or thank them for their time!


The stronger the connection you make, the more likely they are to remember you, they might even share your research with their colleagues and friends. Bonus points, these connections can lead to collaborative research projects, future partnerships, or prospective jobs down the line. Thank you. 🙌 😉



5. 🎥 Elevate your research with a captivating video abstract


Ah video abstracts… graphical abstract’s better big cousin.


We previously compared graphical abstracts to video abstracts, and the result were clear, video abstracts were far superior!


But who said you had to choose?


Old El Paso tacos young girl 'why don't we have both' meme


A video abstract can take your research to new heights. Video content generates higher levels of engagement and sharing, leading to increased visibility.


Not surprising with video content so popular. We are looking at you Tik Tok and Reels! 😂


Graph showing the increase in number of video abstracts in 2010 vs 2018

Source: Ferreira et al. 2021 summarised in SWIPE SciComm Issue 2.


More than that, research has shown that articles published with a video abstract were associated with an increase in citations, views and Altmetric Attention Score.


Video abstracts allow you relay your key findings in a visually appealing and dynamic manner, making it more engaging and memorable for your audience. Today’s media landscape is dominated by online news, and video abstracts help your work to be picked up by journalists.


Tips for getting the most out of your video abstract:

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Engaging Script


A well-written script with complimentary visuals can significantly enhance the appeal of your video abstract. ✨


Start by outlining the main points you want to convey through your video abstract.


Consider:

  • Your key message

  • The research gap your study fills

  • Significance of your findings

  • Broader implications

  • The target audience


Then use this to build:

  • A captivating story with a beginning (AND), middle (BUT) and end (THEREFORE).

  • Relevant and story-enhancing visuals


Attention spans are limited, so aim for a video abstract that is concise and captures the most impactful aspects of your study within a short time-frame. Aim for around 1-2 minutes. 🎥


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Improve accessibility


There are so many ways to create a video abstract, from narrated powerpoint slides, to live footage, to animation. The possibilities are endless.


But no matter the method of video abstract you choose to create, we encourage accessibility.


80-90% of videos viewed on social media are played with the sound muted. So add captions to increase viewership and accessibility for hearing impaired individuals. 🦻 If your research is important in a non-native English area, translate the voice over, or add subtitles to reach this audience. 💬


Lastly, for animated or illustration style video abstracts, carefully consider your colour scheme to ensure your design is colour-blind friendly. 🌈



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Enlist the help of an expert


Producing a video abstract can significantly broaden the reach of your work, but creating a compelling video abstract can be time-consuming and challenging if you are new to the scripting, storyboarding and production process.


So why not reach out and get some help? Bring your ideas to life with our professional video abstract services. From environmental video abstracts to nanoparticles to socio-economic video abstracts, we have experience in creating compelling video abstracts across all fields of science.


Our team PhD-trained science communicators and skilled animators can help you communicate your research in a visually compelling way to stand out from the crowd!


Contact us to learn more and take the first step towards creating a dynamic and memorable video.



So in summary

There are 5 main things you should do after your paper has been accepted:

  1. Write a media release

  2. Share your work on social media

  3. Create a graphical abstract

  4. Present at conferences

  5. Produce a video abstract.

Then sit back and watch your research impact grow!



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