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Dissemination in the Wild: Increasing the Audience for Your Work


By: Karen Gutzman, Research and Evaluation Librarian

If you grab a cup of coffee with a researcher, chances are they’ll be more than willing to fill you in on their latest research. But in this global world with so many connections to make, it can be daunting to figure out how to share your work on such a large scale.

If we talk about our work so well in person, then how can we do it better in the wilderness of the online environment? Using social media and research-sharing tools are helpful in disseminating ideas to a wider audience.

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Twitter conversations happen in a flutter of newsfeed updates, hashtags and character limits. Twitter is a great way to track research trends, follow the work of your peers, and share your own work. If you’ve never experienced Twitter, try setting up an account and ease your way into it. Consider these ideas:

  • While attending a conference, search Twitter for the conference’s custom hashtag, such as #AAASmtg, and see what conversation is happening.
  • Use the “Follow” function to track the twitter account of a well-known researcher, such as Francis Collins, Director of NIH, known on Twitter as @NIHDirector.
  • Write a tweet about your publication using 140 characters or less. Go to your publisher’s website and click on the “Share” or “Twitter” icon, and paste your text next to the shortened link to your paper, and hit “Tweet” to send it to your followers.
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Facebook and Google+

Patient advocacy groups, professional societies and research labs often have Facebook groups or Google+ communities that follow research advancements and send news out to their members. If you’ve never shared your work or someone else’s on Facebook or Google+, consider opening an account and trying it out. Consider these ideas:

  • Join a professional society or advocacy Facebook group or Google+ community, such as the “Science on Google+” community with 600,000 members. To find groups in Facebook, enter keywords into the search field and click on the “Groups” tab. To find communities in Google+ navigate to the Communities page and enter keywords in the search field. 
  • Write some text about your publication. Go to your publisher’s website and click on the “Share” or “Facebook” or “Google+” icon, and paste your text next to the shortened link to your paper. Select “Share in a group” or “Share on your own Timeline” depending on your preferences.
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Mendeley, CiteULike, Delicious

Social bookmarking is a popular way to store references online, discover new articles, and share references with colleagues. Consider setting up an account in one of the many tools, such as Mendeley, CiteULike, and Delicious, and creating your own library of citations. Consider these ideas:

  • Create a library of papers in Mendeley relevant to your field of study, and share the papers with your colleagues, or invite members to join your group. As an example, navigate to the Groups tab and search for the “Prostate Cancer Research” group.
  • Use the “Suggest” feature in Mendeley to find articles you may be interested in based on your library of work.
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Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Research Blogging

Blogging can be a great way to communicate to a wider audience. There are many online blogging platforms, such as Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr that can get you started quickly. Research Blogging allows you to easily find blog posts about peer-reviewed research and offers you a way to share your writing with a larger audience. Consider these ideas:

  • Set up a blog to write about your research findings, comments on publications by other authors, or a recap of a conference you’ve attended.
  • Search the Research Blogging website to find blog posts related to your area of research.

Consult with the NU FSM Office of Communications Social Media Policies and Guidelines for more information on using Social Media for yourself or for a group.

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Tools for Tracking Dissemination

If you’ve put in the effort to broadly disseminate your work, it may be helpful to see if your work is gathering attention, and which tools are helping to generate the most interest. There are several tools that pull together data on the attention that articles receive online.

Altmetric has partnered with Elsevier’s Scopus literature database, and with many publishers to provide data on those sites for individual articles. You can also download their free bookmarklet for quick access to Altmetric data. You may notice their colorful “donut” ring depicting the areas of high attention for an article.

PlumX has partnered with universities and institutional repositories to provide impact metrics for individual articles. You may notice their signature “plum-print” which highlights the attention an article has received in usage, captures, mentions, social media and citations.   

Impact Story uses your CV to track attention you’ve received online. They offer options to pull data from your Twitter, SlideShare, Google Scholar and ORCiD accounts, among others.  

If you aren’t comfortable using the tools mentioned for tracking dissemination, consider running a Google Search for your name, research topic, or article title, and then clicking on Google’s “News” tab to see if any media mentions or other information comes up.

Remember that every tool is working in the wilderness of the online environment, and they may miss some of the attention your work may have received.

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DigitalHub and ease of sharing

DigitalHub, the institutional repository for Northwestern Medicine, has great options for sharing your deposited work on social media. DigitalHub supports Twitter, Tumblr, Buffer, Facebook and Google+, and provides a link to your work that you can use on other social media sites. DigitalHub makes sharing easier: deposit your file into DigitalHub, choose your method of sharing, and send a link to the full text in DigitalHub. For questions or help getting started, see our Help or Contact page.

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Updated: September 25, 2023