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Academics with more media coverage get more citations

Research is essential to society as it provides answer to questions of what, when, how and why. Without it, we wouldn’t have answers to key social, environmental, and economic issues that we have faced in the past, currently, and in the future.

With all the fantastic universities, business schools, and think tanks around the world, there is an abundance of research at our disposal – and this is fantastic! But for academics, this does make getting research out there more difficult. This can be disheartening as a lot of time and energy goes into creating research findings, and sometimes due to the sheer volume of scholarly articles published the papers can fall through the cracks and not get the recognition it deserves.

For many of the academics I’ve had the pleasure of working with, the key goal of their research is to make an impact, to encourage positive change, but this can be incredibly hard if people can’t find the insights.

So, how can we solve this issue? Through promoting research and expertise in the media! This is a great tool to showcase research, it can be used to highlight issues in society, offer advice, and create a platform for discussion. But importantly, when done correctly, it can increase the number of people that read the research by a considerable amount.

Research by Brigham Young University has also revealed that academics with more media coverage actually get more citations. The study analysed the scientific and non-scientific impact of over 800 academic research papers and found a strong link between media coverage and the number of citations a research paper receives.

chart of newspaper readership

Using a metrics calculator, the researchers looked at the scores and compared this to the number of citations received over time and found that either the media are covering the papers with the most scientific impact, or those research papers that are receiving more attention in media such as mainstream news and social media, are cited more in peer-reviewed literature – it appears that the latter is more likely the reason.

However, whether an academic gets media coverage on their research – which might prompt the number of citations to go up – often depends on the topic of the research and the current media climate, but that being said, an academic is still more likely to have their research cited if they do media work. This strong correlation between media coverage and citations indicates that academics and institutions should carefully consider the impact of doing media and publicising their work in order to expand the reach of their audience.

Not only is media coverage beneficial for citations, but another study by the University of Minnesota finds that that research shared on social media was also more likely to observe more citations than research that wasn’t shared.

This can be done in two ways (or both), the first is that you share your research on social media platforms yourself, LinkedIn and Twitter often work best in this situation, and hope that the algorithm will share it widely. Or you can promote your research in the media and then share the story on your social. The journalist, the publication, and their colleagues are also likely to share across social – maximising the reach. Both methods can be effective, but having a third party (the journalist) validate your work, gives it that extra credibility as well as sharing to a much wider network.

Sharing your work in the media is the most effective way for it to make an impact, but how can you do this?

How a PR agency can help

The goals of a PR campaign can vary, but the majority of the time the aim is to boost visibility and reputation – this is especially the case for higher and business education institutions.

An agency is well positioned to help you with your media outreach because they have the expertise required to communicate with the media and create the most effective strategies. They can provide advice on what is the most effective method of promoting the research, whether that is through sending out a press release, writing an article or setting up an interview to discuss it.


Katie

Author: Katie Hurley

Katie is an Account Manager at BlueSky Education.

She is an education communications specialist with journalistic flair thanks to a degree in Multimedia Journalism and a stint as a reporter at the Financial Times.

 

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