Boosting Your Early Scientific Impact Metrics

The Importance of Joining the Scientific Impact Party Early

I want to share a strategy that can be used when you’re a Master’s student, an early-stage PhD student, or even if you’re currently writing your Bachelor’s thesis and aiming for an academic career—want to boost your scientific impact in these early stages.

Building your academic profile as soon as possible is crucial for those pursuing an academic career. Because there are substantial benefits to joining the party early. I liken this to the concept of compound interest. When you publish something, it will eventually be cited by someone else (and also by yourself). The higher this metric goes up, the more likely it will be published or cited by someone else. Basically, the longer you wait, the longer a paper is out there, the higher the likelihood that it will get cited. That’s the simple math behind it.

There are substantial benefits to joining the party early.

How to Speed Up Visibility and Career

There’s a whole movement called open science, which aims to do good in a variety of directions. What’s relevant here is the idea that the process of science should be transparent, and not just the outcome, like the final published paper.

I suggest, in accordance with open science principles, that whenever you write something, even if it’s just a project that includes a conference presentation, always publish it on a repository. For instance, the Open Science Framework is my go-to platform to publish early-stage research output and, of course, data supporting the process. Put this online, and the Open Science Framework will give you an objective identifier that you can use and that’s actually citable.

The Process

When you publish another conference presentation, you can reference the previous work you’ve been doing. While this doesn’t immediately grant you significant attention, you’re building yourself a solid base for further citations. It becomes mostly relevant once you publish your final masterpiece, so to speak. Say you’re publishing your paper on a study, and you have two or three pre-conference presentations about it, which you’ve published on the Open Science Framework. Now once your paper gets published, you can merge it with your previous research outputs on Google Scholar (which I consider the most transparent platform for scientific impact metrics). All the citations received from individual sources will be combined There’s no double counting, of course. If one paper has all three of those research outputs, this just counts as one. Nevertheless, it will help you get started with a research publication with at least a handful of citations. This is great because often those initial citations are the most difficult to get.

Scientific impact metrics that you want to boost

Let’s briefly review the outcome of this: The outcome will be an increase in speed, as you will be able to get your citations sooner. Once your paper is published, you may already have some citations. This is not the usual case. If you publish something in a journal, when it’s accepted, it often takes a couple of months for it to actually be published. When it does get published, someone needs to find the paper, download it, read it, and cite it in another paper. Then that paper needs to get published before you can actually get credit for it. This is a very long process, talking about years, not months.

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How the Time Lag in Academic Publishing is Working Against You

You want to speed this up because, especially at the beginning of your career, time is of the essence. Your PhD only lasts about four years, maybe even less. For instance, I completed my PhD in only two years. So, how many citations can you get in two or four years? That’s not a lot. However, you will need those citations when applying for a position. The time lag is really working against you in your career development.

Be smart and implement this practice, which, as I said, is not only good for you as it helps you develop your career, but it is also beneficial for academia as it follows open science protocols.