One important measure of an academic’s success is his or her international profile, that is, the extent to which his or her research has an impact on the field globally. There are many things that a scholar can do to raise their international profile and this article will offer advice on how to achieve this goal.
In UK higher education institutions, the forthcoming REF audit demands ‘international recognition’ for all pieces of work of 2* quality or above.
See http://www.ref.ac.uk/panels/assessmentcriteriaandleveldefinitions/ for a breakdown of the definitions of starred levels.
So how do you achieve ‘international recognition’ both for particular pieces of work, and for your research profile in general?
1. Produce work that will appeal to an international audience.
There are trends and fashions in every field of academic study and while it is important not to simply work in an area because it is popular, it is also vital to engage with current trends and debates in your field. There will be ways of framing your ideas and conducting your analysis that appeal to an international audience, usually by engaging with the work of other international scholars. For example, working on a small case study that has only minor local significance is unlikely to attract international interest. However, by situating that case study in the context of global debates in your field, you can transform a piece of work and its reception and make it ‘internationally renowned’.
2. Pick your journals or publishers carefully.
The most important way of achieving international recognition is to publish your work in places that will achieve a worldwide audience. An internationally renowned journal, subscribed to by a wide range of libraries across the world, or a publisher whose work is well marketed in key foreign countries are the best places to publish your research. Sometimes scholars are too keen for their work to be published anywhere, for it to be out in the public domain with no regard as to who has published it. But to achieve international recognition, your chosen publisher has to be able to provide that scope.
3. Present your work overseas.
Attending conferences abroad is a key part of achieving international standing. Identify the biggest conferences in your field and submit applications to present papers there. The most prestigious conferences may take several years ‘to crack’ because of the competitive nature of these events. Not only will you get recognition from your university for doing this, but you’ll also meet scholars whose work you might not have been previously exposed to.
4. Create research connections.
Securing fellowships to study and/or teach at research facilities or universities abroad will enhance your career prospects. It will allow you to develop your research in new directions but also to liaise with overseas scholars and perhaps forge long term connections. Personal and institutional connections between you and overseas scholars are highly sought after by your university, so it is important to discuss any planned strategic connections, such as having a programme of visiting professors and even an undergraduate exchange programme, with your Head of Department or faculty’s Director of Research. These links enhance your personal reputation and improve the research culture of your department as a whole, something else that will help them achieve a higher score at the REF.