Your “digital footprint” is everything you've done online, not just your personal information. The things you've said, the things you've tagged or liked or shared and what other people have said about you. Remember that you are not only representing yourself, you are also representing the university. If you already have personal accounts with social networking tools are you happy to use these when sharing your research or do you want to set up "professional" accounts? If you are happy to use your personal accounts, we do recommend that you spend some time tidying up your profile and look at your privacy settings - do you really want new research contacts to see the Facebook photos your friends have uploaded of you or for your account to bombard them with game invites etc?
Saving time / online efficiency
If you think you might use several types of social media you should think about using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite. This will help you to automatically share a blog post or a tweet or an Instagram back through your other social media outlets. There are other social media management tools available, but Hootsuite is user firendly and free for individuals.
Most social media platforms either have in built time saving tools or apps you can use to help you. Did you know that you can schedule tweets or blogs to appear at chosen times, so you can build up a quick reserve of items to automatically post at times when you know you will be busy (marking exams, on holiday etc). Twitter has an advanced search which can help you to track down people & conversations. You can also create specific lists within Twitter so you can easily see what is being said on a particular topic.
If you are going to share completed research, you must think about copyright. Before you upload a copy of a published paper to your blog, or a platform such as Acdemia.edu make sure you have the legal right to do so. If you have published in a journal, you must check the permissions from the publisher using the Sherpa Romeo database and only upload permitted versions of a publication (you may have written a paper, but the copyright may be held by the publisher, not you). Similarly, if your research has been funded by an organisation or a company, find out what they are happy for you to share publicly. Check the Library’s copyright pages for more information.
Be sure to familiarise yourself with Edinburgh Napier University policies on Social Media use. Including the Social Media Usage Policy, Social media best practice guidelines, and the Information Services guidance on staying safe on social network sites.
Blogging about your research is increasingly seen as standard practice. If you haven’t done it before it can seem a daunting task. Look at the blogs of other researchers you know (and ask them for tips), think about what works and just as importantly what doesn’t work.
Some people blog about their research and their daily life intertwined, some chose a more formal, structured style. To write something interesting and successful you need to be comfortable doing it. If you love photography, use photos in your blog; if you are a visual learner then use infographs; if you don’t like writing or are nervous, start off with short blog posts. It’s worth saying again, you need to think about the audience you want to read your blog. If you want to engage with companies then maybe a photo of your dog reading your research paper isn’t the right tone, but for a group of school children it might be a fun way to engage them.
WordPress is a universally popular platform for creating blogs. It’s free and fairly simple to use, enabling a good range of customisation. It also works well with many other platforms, making linking and sharing easy.
The Conversation is a collaboration between journalists and academics, committed to evidence based articles. It aims to publish news and commentary style articles that are free to read and republish. A particularly good tool for early career researchers to investigate.
If you are blogging about your peer-reviewed research, consider registering your blog with the network Research Blogging so that other researchers can discover your writing.
Hypotheses is a free publication platform for scholarly blogs open to the academic community in all disciplines of the arts, humanities and social sciences. Run by Centre for Open Electronic Publishing (Cléo, France) users must first submit a registration before taking part.
HASTAC (The Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) is an interdisciplinary community of humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists, and technologists that combines blogging, networking, collaborative research, and teaching.
ScienceBlogs is the largest online community dedicated to science and is a digital science salon featuring the leading bloggers from a wide array of scientific disciplines.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Google+ can provide an easy way to network as many people are already familiar with using such services. So far, these services have been used more for networking than full scale sharing of research - check how others in your research area are using them.
If you are thinking about using Facebook, consider separating your personal profile from your professional self. You could set up an Author's profile or an increasingly popular way for academics to use Facebook is to set up a page for your research group or project. Joining other research groups can give you a great platform for discussion.
Twitter is a great way to connect with people and organisations, but it does require some effort and engagement by you. It is very easy to be swamped by the sheer volume of tweets, so think about how you want to use Twitter and who do you want to connect with and why?
Find out how successful researchers are using Twitter, how do they reach people, what are their most popular tweets about? It is not enough to simply find people/organisations and follow them, you need to interact! Retweets are an easy way to engage, especially if you "quote retweet". You can add your own comment, which could simply be liking the original tweet, asking a question, or even making a link to your own research.
Find and join Twitter groups related to your research, a couple of great examples are : #phdchat - a peer support group with lots of practical help (and a lot of memes about supervisors) #acwri - discussion and peer support group for all those with an interest in academic writing, practical tips and lots of sharing of resources.
If you plan to use Twitter then you may want to look at tools to help you manage your account. TweetDeck is the most popular but there are others. You can schedule Tweets, make lists to easily separate out different topics, and a wide range of other ways to save time. You may also want to look at social media management tools such as Hootsuite which can help you to link your Twitter with your blog, Facebook page and other tools.
It is important that your work is easily attributable to you, but that's not always easy online, especially if you have a relatively common name,or if you change institution or if you change your name. The two services below provide you with a unique identifier which you can then give to the publisher of your paper, or use anywhere you share your research online. We can't encourage you strongly enough to get a unique identifier!
ORCiD (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a free non-profit service that provides unique persistent identifiers for the benefit of both individual researchers and their institutions.
Similar to ORCiD (above) ResearcherID is owned and operated by Thompson Reuters and also provides academics with unique persistent identifiers.
If you have both an ORCiD and ResearcherID, you can link them so they reflect each other, further helping to identify your work.