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Niven Library - FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology Library Guide: Social Media for Research

The library supports a number of themes - African ornithology, conservation biology, Antarctic and sub-antarctic biology, specifically birds.

Blogging to promote your research

Blogs contribute the second highest score to your article metrics* and should be a summary of a research article which will reach a broad readership.  The blog should be linked to the research article to enable other researchers to consult your research in full.  Blogs deliver many benefits to the researcher

  • A blog post linked to your research paper can improve the paper's metric score
  • A strategically distributed blog can reach a wider research community, interested citizens and the media
  • Many people prefer to read a summary before deciding whether to read the full article
  • Many research articles are behind publishers paywalls which reduces their & your exposure
  • Search engines mine keywords from blogs which enables you to reach a much wider audience
  • Tweeting your latest blog post will ensure that you keep followers interested

* see Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future citations? 

I acknowledge Steve Dudly, at the BOU for his suggestions.  See the BOU blog for futher hints on blogging.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

This is about optimizing your research articles so that they will be picked up by search engines.  Many articles have snappy titles which do not necessarily tell you what the article is about, you have to find out by reading the abstract.  Carefully chosen keywords can save the time of other researchers when they are picked up by a search engine.  Suggestions are:

  • Compile a list relevant keywords
  • Ensure that the relevant keywords are included in the title
  • Use the keywords in your abstract
  • Make sure the keywords are used throughout your article
  • Use your keywords in headings within the article
  • Include a keyword field with your keywords and synonyms
  • Use the keywords to link your article to your blog and websites

Use Google’s Keyword Planner or RankChecker  (free registration) to find out which terms related to your article’s subject matter are popular keywords or search terms, and remember that you can use synonyms if you find the suggested keywords are inadequate!

I acknowledge Steve Dudly, at the BOU and Anne-Marie Green, at Wiley for their suggestions.

Google+ Twitter and Wikipedia


Using Google’s social media platform will help in other areas of Google’s wide range of services, e.g. Google Scholar and the Google search engine.Your posts on Google+ will show up as a search result in Google and increase your SEO ranking. Use Google+ work to find research communities working in your field and contribute to their conversations. You can also use Google+ as your blog.


A recent article in Nature* entitled Interactive: why scholars use social media gives a breakdown of how researchers are using Twitter.  The following reasons, going from used most to used least, are their findings:

  • Follow discussions
  • Post links to research output
  • Discovers peers
  • Comment on research
  • Discover recommended papers
  • Share links to authored research
  • Contact peers
  • Actively discuss research

* Nature Volume 512 issue 7513 of 13 August 2014.  Content of this article is Open Access.


This entry is verbatim from Steve Dudley's 19th June 2014 post - thanks Steve!

"Wikipedia has over 495 million users generating over 20 billion page requests per month with over 79,000 users registered as content editors (Wikimedia Highlights April 2014). That compares with Google (the undisputed number one online search engine) with c.12 billion monthly searches from 1.1 billion users (Smith 2014).

Ornithologists have been urged to make better use of Wikipedia (Bond 2011) since Wikipedia is the top non-search engine search facility on the web, and because of its encyclopedic nature and layout, the content is more focused and it’s easier to find exactly what you want quickly than on a search engine.

Wikipedia is, despite what you might have heard, very reliable. In 2005 Nature found it as reliable as the Encyclopedia Brittanica (Wolchover 2014) and in 2013 the Journal of Clinical Oncology found it equally reliable as Physician Data Query – a professionally edited database maintained by the National Cancer Institute (Wolchover 2014).

Wikipedia is the largest citizen science project on the planet and a great example of a community working together. Anyone can add content to Wikipedia, all you have to do is register for free. You can then add and edit content yourself by searching for items relating to your work and links and references to your work and papers."

Bond, A. L. 2011. Why ornithologists should embrace and contribute to Wikipedia. Ibis 153: 640–641

Smith, C. 2018. 280 Interesting google facts, figures and statistics (January 2018). Digital Marketing Ramblings.

Wolchover, N. 2011. How Accurate Is Wikipedia? Live Science.