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After posting a preprint on arXiv, or after an accepted paper appears online, how to bring other's attention to it?

(Unless one is already a big name in one's field, or one proves a long-standing and well-known open problem, I doubt that just waiting for things to happen is going to suffice.)

For sure one can give talks or present posters on relevant conferences. But are there any other methods of bringing it to the attention of others who might be interested and for whom it may be beneficial?

The question is both about "classical" methods and any relevant Internet tools.

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    This question is highly relevant. The accepted answer (mine) is probably the worst one; be sure to read them all. – eykanal Sep 27 '12 at 13:03
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    I disagree with eykanal's evaluation of his answer. – JeffE Sep 27 '12 at 14:15
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    I am surprised that nobody suggested blogs. – Artem Kaznatcheev Nov 22 '12 at 15:12
  • @ArtemKaznatcheev Actually, I was thinking about such things. However, if a blog has one entry per a few months, I guess that readership would be ~ 0. So, do you know any collaborative blogs inviting others to present their results? – Piotr Migdal Nov 22 '12 at 15:23
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    @PiotrMigdal well, if you don't keep an active blog or use it solely for advertising, then obviously nobody will read it. Presumably your blog hosts content other than your own papers and updates regularly. Otherwise it is more an extended CV than blog. However, combining efforts to run a blog is a good idea: just talk to others in your field or with similar interests (I know you do this already for Open Science). My personal experience though, is that it is often hard to convince others to contribute to joint projects like blogs :(. – Artem Kaznatcheev Nov 22 '12 at 15:26
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Eykanal is basically right, but there's a fine line between networking and being annoying. There are plenty of circumstances where sending email to more famous/senior colleagues is perfectly fine.

If you already have a professional relationship with someone, it's perfectly fine to write a quick email saying something like "Thanks for the great lunch conversation we had at [conference] last month. You might be interested in this paper I just wrote." Yes, a recent lunch conversation counts as a professional relationship.

If you don't already have a professional relationship, then you should probably limit emails to a few key people who have a direct connection to your paper -- either you build on one of their results (which your paper cites), or improve one of their results (which your paper cites), or they've written papers on closely related topics (which your paper cites) . But within those constraints, emailing your paper is perfectly fine; everyone likes to hear that their work is useful and interesting.

If you do send your paper out, be sure to welcome comments, but don't expect a response from anyone. That silence from Famous Person On The Internet doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't reading your paper; they're probably just really busy.

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In general, I would say no. Poster sessions and talks are the main way of sharing your research. You can try contacting the authors of any widely-known blogs in your field, and you can try sharing your research with any collaborators from other projects (i.e., ones who don't already know about it), but anything beyond that and you're venturing in the realm of being annoying.

There's one major exception that I can think of, and that's in the case where you're publishing a research analysis technique. In that situation, you can publish a toolkit that uses your method, and that may help speed up adoption of the technique. For example, in neuroscience, the SPM fMRI data analysis toolbox is very widely used. The group behind the toolbox came out a few years ago with a new set of techniques—DCM—for mapping brain activity, and incorporated those techniques into the toolbox. Because of this, many researchers now use this analysis tool. (Of course, this also means that you'll have many researchers using the tool incorrectly, and you may have to publish instructions on when and when not to apply the technique.)


JeffE pointed out another exception; if you're building on the results of another research group, it is definitely acceptable to contact the researchers in that group to let them know if your work. They're the most likely people to be interested in your work, and (arguably) they are in a position to give you the most useful feedback.

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Don't forget about old-fashioned face-to-face conversation. If you go to a conference, it is likely you will meet new people or re-connect with friends or acquaintances from other institutions. A common first question in such conversations is "What do you do?" or "What are you working on now?" This is a natural lead-in to tell this person about your latest work. Try to keep it short and tailor it to the known interests of the person you are talking to. If they are intrigued, they can ask more questions and keep the conversation going. The same principle applies if you meet someone on a research or seminar visit somewhere (whether you are visiting them or they are visiting you). Face-to-face conversation is less efficient than a talk or poster, since you are only getting to people one or two at a time, but it is also usually more compelling.

It's worthwhile doing this even if you are also giving a talk or poster at the conference, since it can serve as advertising to convince them to come to your talk or visit your poster. Alternatively, you can give a talk on one topic and advertise a different topic (say your previous paper) in conversations. Again, it's worthwhile to tailor your choice of which result to advertise in conversation to the interests of the person you are talking to.

Other suggestions:

  • Encourage your co-authors to give talks on the paper as well. This can be a mixed blessing, because people tend to associate a result with either the person they hear it from or the most famous person on the paper, but it definitely helps to spread knowledge about the paper.
  • If you have your own travel money, you can write to someone and suggest you visit them and give a seminar. You can also write to someone asking for a visit if you don't have money, but that is rather pushy, and is best reserved for cases where you have a strong existing relationship with the person, such as a past supervisor or recurring collaborator.
  • Again, if you have money, you can invite someone to give a seminar at your home institution. This is an opportunity to learn about their latest work and also to chat with them and tell them about yours, as above. Even if you don't have money, there may well be a local seminar series that has some, and perhaps you can make a speaker suggestion.
  • This one is less under your control, but one of the main ways people hear about new results is indirectly, when someone else mentions them or cites them. What this means is that if you can get the information about your paper to just one person who can directly use it to advance their own work, you have doubled your advertising power.
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