Increasingly popular social-media tool says it can maximize reach and impact of research.
From the 01 August 2016 Nature Toolbox article
“It’s not the job of researchers to become experts in public relations — that’s why universities have press offices, says Matt Shipman, research communications lead at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.**
But he recommends scientists toot their own horns as well. Increasingly, researchers across the scientific spectrum are coming to the same conclusion. That demand has led to the emergence of an online tool for managing the practice: a free site called Kudos, which aims to help researchers maximize the reach and impact of their papers on social media, and measure the effects of their efforts.
Tobias is a fan, and so are many others. Since its launch in May 2014, the website’s user base has grown to more than 100,000 users with around 4,000 sign-ups each month, says co-founder Charlie Rapple, who — like most of Kudos’s staff — is based in Oxford, UK.
Reaching a wider audience
“With so much more research being undertaken and published, the current system of dissemination can no longer guarantee that your work will find its audience,” says Rapple. Kudos, she says, aims “to make research more discoverable” and to “help researchers get more credit for what they do and achieve more with their work”. Kudos gives each research paper its own profile page, which users can flesh out with a plain-language summary, external resources, reviews, presentations and more. Tobias says that more than 830 individuals have viewed a summary of one of her papers on the site. She also linked one of her studies to a YouTube video in which members of her contemporary dance company represented the role of plants in sand dune formation through improvisational dance. “It’s kind of an interesting experiment, but it’s related to the paper so I linked it in the resources section.”
Papers in plain language
Kudos’s support for displaying plain-language summaries, which researchers can write to make their articles accessible to a wider audience, is particularly useful, Tananbaum says. The family members of someone with cancer, for example, may be better able to understand the context and significance of a medical study from a simple description than from the published abstract, he says. Tobias, similarly, says she hopes that the summary she has written for one of her papers will bring it to the attention of policymakers and resource managers.
But even researchers within one’s immediate field can benefit from such summaries, says Matthew Bowler, a scientist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Grenoble, France, and a Kudos user. The plain language makes it easier for them to understand a study’s context and significance, and to find research papers through general keyword searches.
**On a related note, The University of Toledo has a digital depository.
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