Nifty Little Nuggets for Improving Your Impact

26 February 2009 at 5:02 am 12 comments

| Nicolai Foss |

OK — since we are apparently doing the ligther posts currently (cf. Lasse’s recent post, the Mahoney and Pitelis list, etc.), here’s some potentially useful (?), hands-on advice on how to improve your academic impact.

Academic impact is obviously a multi-dimensional construct. While often measured simply in terms of publications in high-ranking journals, many universities now increasingly look at citation counts (i.e., SSCI numbers). This makes considerable sense. While an uncited paper in, for example, the Academy of Management Journal (and such exist) may have some social value (after all, it does certify the author as a competent researcher), there is no social value in terms of broader knowledge dissemination (and the results thereof). While the US seems to have the lead (in social science) when it comes to letting citation counts matter, the European scene is rapidly changing towards an increasing emphasis on citation figures. After all, these figures can be easily gathered, compared, etc. by research and university bureaucrats, looking for new areas where they can meddle in a low-cost manner.

Here are some simple ideas that may help to increase your citation numbers:

1. The idea dissemination process isn’t finished with the publication of your paper in a journal — it is only just started! Form a strategy regarding how you are going to assist the dissemination of the ideas in your paper.

2. Send your paper to colleagues. Identify minimum 10 international scholars who are likely to be interested in your research. Don’t just choose your friends, who are already familiar with your research. Pick some big guys who you can target.

3. You may send an email with a link to your newly published paper. Remember to include an abstract in the mail.  Even better: Send a print version with a personal note.

4. Ask the journal whether they will distribute your paper to leading scholars in the field.

5. When you review articles for journals, don’t be shy of recommending that the authors consult and cite your own work. (Obviously, don’t overdo this! If you mention 5 other citable papers then max one of these should be your own work). There is a reason why you were picked as a reviewer, after all.

6. Advertise your research when you do seminars and speeches beyond the specific paper you are supposed to present. Show/mention how the current paper fits into a broader research stream of yours. Put download links into the slides. Make sure the slides are distributed beforehand or afterwards to the seminar/conference participants. Bring those annoying reprints of your articles with you to seminars/conferences.

7. Self-reference — but do so sparingly. 2-3 self-references per article are OK; more than that ain’t (most reviewers attack excessive self-citation because it reveals your identity plus a lot of self-citation is just . . . bad taste!).

8. Cite colleagues at your department/group. They are likely to cite you back in return. While this kind of “self-citation” may be filtered out of citation counts, it still makes your work more visible — and therefore more likely to be cited by others.

9. Use other electronic resources than mail: Set up a site/blog with download links to your papers. If you are on Facebook, use your status update field to advertise your research.

10. Last but (certainly!) not least: Aim at the best journals!  We know that the best journals are more cited.

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Ephemera.

21 Economic Models Explained Skidelsky on Keynes and Hayek

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Niklas Hallberg  |  26 February 2009 at 10:27 am

    I know that irony should be hard to detect, but…

    Ten commandments on the social construction of academic impact. On O&M? What’s happening?

  • 2. Nicolai Foss  |  26 February 2009 at 11:56 am

    Oh well — we are not so Hayekian here at O&M that we believe that our impact on the academic community should be a matter of “human action, but not human design”.

  • 3. Andre Sammartino  |  26 February 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks for the tips Nicolai. I’ll make sure to send you everything I publish from now on :)

  • 4. Peter Klein  |  26 February 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Nicolai forgot the most important tip — try to get your work mentioned on O&M! Too obvious, I guess.

  • 5. Thomas Basbøll  |  27 February 2009 at 11:48 am

    Ouch, Nicolai. Why the jab at beaurocrats? The whole university system is an excerse in “meddling” in the growth of knowledge by people who don’t know enough to do research but know enough to support it with an elaborate set of institutions. They need some way of selecting people to fill those jobs. Low cost, like you say.

    But there’s a deeper point: most of your suggestions overlap exactly with things that will actually give your ideas greater impact, not just the appearance of such. Following them would not fool the meddlers. It would exactly achieve their most noble aims.

  • 6. Thomas Basbøll  |  27 February 2009 at 11:48 am


  • 7. Bo  |  27 February 2009 at 6:38 pm


    you forgot the most important tip: Publish something worth citing! If you want to make an impact then publish something new, useful, groundbreaking and interesting – which may at the same time preclude you from publishing in the top journals…

  • 8. Nicolai Foss  |  28 February 2009 at 6:05 am

    Bo: Of course .. that goes without saying (almost). The above (minus #10) applies to the situation where your stuff is appearing or has just appeared in the journals. Also, these are things that can in principle be done by anyone, whereas “publishing something worth citing” is taller order…

  • 9. Mike Sykuta  |  3 March 2009 at 4:17 pm

    “Try to get your work cited on O&M”??? How about self-citation in numerous blog posts?

  • 10. Nicolai Foss  |  3 March 2009 at 4:35 pm


  • 11. sykutam  |  3 March 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Meant only with a great deal of admiration for your entrepreneurial spirit! And who’s to say it’s a comment on O&M in particular?

  • 12. Bo  |  5 March 2009 at 9:33 pm

    # 8 – well, I will still take the high moral road and only cite “relevant pieces that provide support for my main arguments” – YEAH RIGHT…

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