Liesbeth Smit

About Liesbeth Smit

Liesbeth combines her knowledge of science communication, technology and design to explain difficult topics to a wide audience. You can use her practical tips immediately in your presentations to create a bigger impact. She developed dozens of websites, e-learning modules for The Online Scientist and published a best-selling book about nutrition science.

5 things you should do as a researcher to increase your impact online

What can you do to make your research stand out from the crowd? As science communicators in an online world, we have compiled the five most efficient ways to become more visible to journalists, colleagues, conference organizers and funding agencies. Have you ever Googled yourself, only to find an outdated article or forum comment from your time as a student on the first page? It can be painful, embarrassing or at least not representative of your academic progress. There are ways to control your online identity and prevent embarrassing search results. And they make sure that when other people look for you online, your desired and up-to-date social media accounts and website show up. 1 Get a personal website The first rule of standing out is that you shouldn’t be like everyone else. So while online networking tools for scientists, such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Google Scholar have their place (more on that later), you’ll still be just one of many colleagues. This doesn’t help your visibility. But there is another reason to want to get out of these ‘gated communities’ of science, because, for better or worse, there is a growing requirement for researchers to engage with the general public and to ensure that your research has an impact in society as a whole. A website is a great way to overcome both these challenges.  But you’ll have to go beyond that online profile that your institute provides for you on their website; these often convey a bland, generic image and have a design that is inflexible and generally outdated. To have a page with your photo and a list of publications is just not enough to get people excited about your work. Share [...]

2017-11-14T15:58:07+00:00

How to cite social media as references in your research article

Research is slowly moving into the real world, with studies being done using data from social media websites and interaction with the public. But what do you do when you need to cite someone’s tweet? How do you cite a Facebook post in your journal article? Is it enough to give the URL? We’ve compiled the best-practices to help you organize your citations. For social media the same rule applies that also goes for websites and other types of sources: you have to use in-text citations and a listing in your references. Be aware that publication details may vary between citations styles. If they’re not included in the official citation guide you’re using, you can adhere to the best practices we’ll discuss in this blog. Best practices for referencing social media You want to credit the person posting the information, so include their full last name followed by their initials. (Thaler, R.). If they have a screen name or post privately, for example on Facebook you can include those names in brackets: Thaler, R. [MisbehavingBlog]. If it’s an organization their full profile name is sufficient. Provide the date when the post was created: the year, month and day, or use n.d. if this is not known. When the content of the citation can change, such as a webpage, you need to add the date of retrieval. This is not necessary when the date is a part of the post, for example as in a tweet. The content of the post or the caption (if it exists) can be used as the title up to 40 words, and you should include in brackets the type of social media post e.g. [Tweet] [Facebook status update]. If the [...]

2017-11-14T15:17:13+00:00

How to find a reliable hosting provider for your WordPress website

Finding a new hosting provider for your website can be very frustrating; online you find good and bad reviews, you never quite know what a hosting provider does for you, and maybe you lack the technical knowhow to assess if they offer enough service for a safe and speedy website. We help you to avoid spending hours on the internet trying to find out which is the best host, and share our experience with you. By now, we have a decade of experience with various hosting providers, and we’ve spent days looking for a good company to work with (spoiler alert: we have found a reliable one!). Since we put in so much time, we know exactly what is important when you’re choosing a hosting company. Because we work with WordPress exclusively (it is the most user-friendly software to build websites with), this article will only concern the best hosting options for WordPress sites (although these are usually great for other platforms as well). What is hosting? Hosting is a space on the internet where your website lives. It’s like the plot your house stands on. A domain name is the address for your house, and makes sure people can find your front door. Both are necessary when you want to start your own website. What do I need for website hosting? If you want a reasonably comfortable hosting package for a simple website, you’ll need the following: 500 MB of space (or 1 GB if you want to display hundreds of PDF articles and large pictures). Unlimited data traffic (is standard everywhere these days). MySQL database. Email addresses and maybe webmail (but we advise you to send and receive email through your own mail [...]

2017-10-17T16:04:53+00:00

How to use content design to improve your science communication

What is content design? Content design is organizing, structuring, formatting and designing texts and combining them with images to create visually attractive and user-friendly content for your website, brochure or other documents. If you have a good text, but it looks like a long piece of text without formatting, people are less likely to want to read it. A nicely formatted text where various components such as headings, paragraphs, frames, quotes and references are easily recognizable enhances the user-friendliness of the text. Content design transforms your text into a visually attractive design to ensures that your key message becomes clear at a glance Write short paragraphs of 5 lines In a book or scientific publication you can get away with long pieces of text, but on a website or brochure you have to be short and to the point. Therefore you should write paragraphs that are about 5 lines long. This makes it more attractive to read and forces you to limit yourself to the key message. Use headings Headings (H1, H2, H3, H4) not only improve the readability and scannability of a page, they also help with search engine optimization (SEO). For a content designer, nothing is worse than a title written in bold font…. So write a title for each paragraph and ensure it has a hierarchy that makes sense: when you write about mammals with an H2 heading, the headings Humans and Apes that fall within that category are both H3. Write your title as a summary Don't write a descriptive title - rather, make it a summary of a paragraph. This way it is easier for people to scan your page and get a first impression of the content. So you should not [...]

2017-03-24T21:54:59+00:00

Different logo types for your website

"I want a logo!” With these words every logo design process starts. But this isn't enough for a designer to develop the new logo for your website. It helps to know what type of logo you want, or, at least, what your preferences are. Here you find the different styles of logos so you can tell your designer what type of logo you prefer. Typographic logo The easiest and most accessible type of logo is the typographic logo, that only consist of a well-chosen font and color. These logos are the most simple and time-resistant logos. Here are some examples of some typographic logos. Typographic logo with a wink For a number of years now, the typographic logo with a wink has been very popular. These logos contains a clever pun that will put a smile on your face. This is our personal favourite, because it is stylish and subtle, and it elicits an emotional response.   Letter logo / monogram Another logo type is the letter logo, or monogram. Does your research have an acronym or abbreviation it uses? In that case a letter logo might be a good option. Combination mark A combination mark consists of the name of the lab, research group or scientist plus a logo element. It’s the cherry on the cake, and it help make the logo stand out more. One advantage to this is that the element itself also can be used to design elements with on your website or brochure. Emblem logo An emblem logo consists of text on a coloured background or has a specific shape. Although emblem logos are used by many different companies, you will see them mostly in the hotel and catering industries. Isolated symbol / [...]

2017-03-24T22:00:25+00:00

30 questions to improve your website development

Before building a website we advise you to think about why you need a site, who your audience is, and what goals you want to achieve. We developed this website optimizer to help us understand your goals and wishes for your new website and to manage expectations. Please fill out this optimizer for your project and take it to our first meeting! You will receive a copy of this information in your inbox. Download the optimizer as a PDF *we will only use the (personal) information you fill out in this form to write a quote for your offer and make sure that we understand your wishes. We do not share this information with others, see for more information about how we handle your data our Privacystatement.

2018-06-28T10:49:13+00:00

30 questions to improve your e-learning course development

When you are thinking about developing an e-learning course, it’s good practice to think about the purpose, your target audience, and the learning goals before you start. For this purpose we developed the e-learning optimizer that helps you to discover what you need before you start building an online tool. It helps you to define your ideas, and will help us understand you and help you better. So if you can, please fill out this optimizer for your project and take it to our first meeting! If you have no idea about some of the questions, just skip them and we’ll talk about it. Download the optimizer as a PDF

2017-03-09T20:00:48+00:00

Improve your scientific presentation slide design with 5 simple tricks

We wrote the title with the word ‘slides’. Yes, slides. Because let’s get one thing clear first; the fact that we dislike so many presentations is not because presentations or slides are bad. What’s often wrong is the execution of the presentation. People are very visual, so a combination of a story with images works very well to convey information. A movie works best, but a presentation is the next best thing. As a consequence, there is nothing inherently wrong with PowerPoint or Prezi – besides perhaps the potential of the latter to make you a little motion sick. There is no need to run with the latest gimmick when we can just improve our use of slides. This is easier said than done of course, because even though we all have been working with presentations for decades, this doesn’t make everyone good at using it. Maybe even the other way around (hello lecturer who recently moved on from overhead projectors!). Use your slides as the illustrated background to the story you tell At The Online Scientist, we have been working with professors that wanted to get their message very clear. They asked us to help them do that by giving their slides a make-over. In this blog we want to share some of those tips with you. This is very hands-on, and assumes you have your story crystal clear. If you feel like you need help with your story, it might be better to start with this blog with tips on how to write the story of your presentation. 1 Write conclusions, not descriptions. It’s ‘good practise’ amongst scientists to put the title of a graph on the slide, as if that explains it [...]

2017-03-10T18:54:41+00:00