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This question is mainly about building useful contacts during the course of the doctorate. How does one keep the relevant community in other universities informed about his/her research work? One way is obviously to publish the work in reputable journals, but the volume of work that people do these days means there is every chance that others miss out on your work.

So consider giving talks in other university departments about your work. What is the best way to approach this task? Who will take care of the travel and other expenses? This especially applies to departments which focus mainly on journal publications and do not spend time on conferences.

What are the other ways to popularise or create recognition for oneself in the relevant academic community (read prospective employers)?

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The best way is to be highly active in your field. (Note: this will take work.) Here are my suggestions for accomplishing this, and I hope others will post more in the comments or other answers:

  1. Do awesome work. It all starts here. As a PhD student, this typically requires being in an awesome lab under an awesome professor, but it is possible to achieve awesome work without that.

  2. Publish in respected journals in your field.

  3. Network within your field. This includes attending field-specific conferences, talking to other PhD students and professors in other labs, and forming collaborations.

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    Note that I was never successful in attaining this sort of stature. In particular, I never figured out how to do (3) correctly; I hope someone else can post a better "how-to" for that point. – eykanal Mar 14 '12 at 16:49
  • Thanks eykanal. I specifically intend to know about (3). Especially consider mailing about your work to a prof whom you idolise, it just is a bit tricky, isn't it? – Bravo Mar 14 '12 at 17:06
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    I am not sure mailing your work to a prof you idolize makes sense. Rather, mail your work to a colleague whose work is deeply connected to what you did. – Suresh Mar 16 '12 at 4:20
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    @Bravo: when I was a PhD student I emailed my icon prof, to no avail. Then I met the person at a conference, whom full of tremors I approached and started to talk to, illustrating how we could collaborate further. To which conversation the prof raised an eyebrow and told me "so what?" and left. After that glitch, speaking to the big guns at conferences has become easier and easier! – ElCid Aug 28 '12 at 15:02
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One minor point to add to eykanal's awesome answer: One of your advisor's jobs is to help you publicize your work. Take every possible advantage of their existing research network. Ask them to introduce you to people at conferences, workshops, and other meetings; ask them for help arranging invitations at other departments/labs. (Ideally, you shouldn't have to ask, but ask anyway.) Until you're comfortable walking up to or emailing random people and introducing yourself, name-drop your advisor liberally; their names will (or should) open doors that yours won't.

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The PhD students I remember the most are the ones who came up to me and made meaningful comments or suggestions regarding my work. They get extra bonus points if in the middle of the night the next week they offer more meaningful comments or suggestions. This can happen in the context of a faculty visit, a conference, or even online. The most powerful setting is at a poster session.

The habit is to camp near your own poster until important people come and ask you questions. Much more effective for becoming a "well-known" scholar is when you find someone else, have a good conversation, and then follow up on the conversation.

There are also effective and meaningful ways to make a name online. As @Artem suggested, an online presence does a lot. Being an constant contributor to scientific wikis, a curator of archives, and a resource on places like Academia SE builds your profile. (It also helps if you don't have a psuedoname like bobthejoe.)

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In addition to ekaynal's answer, you can also run a conference or workshop. But be careful that this doesn't detract from the quality of your research! Running department seminars can help too because you will get to invite & host speakers who will therefore learn your name.

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The single most useful reference I've read on networking in academia is "Networking on the Network" (by Phil Agre):

http://vlsicad.ucsd.edu/Research/Advice/network.html

Let me mention a few examples of advice that Phil gives.

  • First, the Internet does not fundamentally change the way that networking works. You basically walk through the same five or six stages of networking whether you use email and the web or not (and he outlines how each stage works). The exact form may differ, but the substance is more or less the same.
  • Second, networking takes time. Phil recommends budgeting one day per week for maintaining your network.
  • Third, work to ensure that each person in your network benefits from knowing you, not just you from knowing them. If you see an article or opportunity that you think may interest them, pass it along.

This essay is long (about 100 pages), but it has much valuable information. I suggest that you return to it every year or two as you progress in your career. Phil is a great writer, and you may find some of this other thoughts helpful as well. You can read lots of them here:

http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/

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    It will be great if you could provide a gist or highlight a couple or more valuable thoughts from the essay in your answer. – Bravo Jul 1 '12 at 8:17
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    @Bravo Good idea. I've edited my answer to reflect your suggestion. – Dan C Jul 2 '12 at 6:51
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Short answers: Get cited. Present. Show yourself to be a peer.

Long answer: I have the opposite view about networking: you should not waste any day on it unless it directly helps your research (e.g., potential collaborations, working on grants). While admittedly you need to network and get yourself known, that won't help at all unless you're known for great work. You're not going to be known for great work without having great publications. They don't need to be in the best journals (though it helps), but you need to be pushing out work that answers questions that other scholars have. In my opinion, there is no better way to get your name out there than to be cited.

The single most important thing that I learned from transitioning out of my PhD program is this: Publishing is networking. Publishing is talking with your peers. (Particularly if you publish in conferences, you are literally talking to your peers.) No level of pavement-beating will get you more attention than to win a best paper award or to present on a topic that big people have been looking for a good citation on for years. I know a few relatively young scholars in my field who have just about universal name recognition. Their MO? 1. They answered questions that researchers were interested in knowing the answers to. or 2. They answered questions that people didn't even realize needed asking, but were so important everyone needs to talk about them now.

In the long run, being known doesn't help you much if you're known as "another one of those people who works on topic X." You want to be known as "An expert in topic Y" or "The first person I would go to with a question about Y." If you don't have this, any major researcher will say: "Why would I bother collaborating or recommending this guy?" Obviously, this takes years, but so does a doctorate. Nothing is more important to being well-known than asking the right question at the right time (and then answering it).

Additionally, one secondary route of networking not noted by others from what I have seen: acting as a point of contact who interacts with sponsoring organizations. You know what another great way to get face-time with experts is? Being one member of a small workshop or meeting for people all sponsored by the same funding agency. Usually this responsibility would be taken by your lab head or similar PI. To get this responsibility, you need to basically be the best grad student working with the PI and the PI needs to be unavailable or need a second pair of hands. However, by being there, it says two things: 1. You are the best student in the PI's lab/project and 2. Your PI trusts you enough to act as their proxy. I think this only works with an established (full prof) PI, as non-tenured PI's may need the networking as much or more than you. Networking with program officers is also a good habit to be in. Ultimately, these are the people who control what kinds of work can get funded. This is one of the ways a good advisor can plug you into their network (along with making sure to introduce you to their big-shot friends/rivals).

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