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 (poster) presentations to create a bigger impact. She developed dozens of websites, infographics and animated videos, and regularly gives workshops about design at The Online Scientist.

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 Have you ever Googled yourself, only to find an outdated article or forum comment from your time as a student on the first page?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, 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for you on their website; these often convey a bland, generic image and have a design that is inflexible and generally outdated.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 [...]


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 [...]


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 know-how 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 [...]


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. Logos are not what you think they are Most people think a logo should include an element that shows exactly what the company is about. If you're a bakery it should include a picture of bread, if you're a hairdresser it should include some scissors. This is an old way of thinking about logos, and it's particularly bad when we talk about logos for more abstract concepts or scientific studies. Usually, the more abstract a company, initiative, or research department is, the more cliché the logo becomes. Can you imagine the Disney logo to include Mickey Mouse and a dalmatian as an icon? Or the Philips logo to include a collection of light bulbs? Or a research study about vaccines including needles and blood in their logo design? A logo can be just a good font in a color that matches the style guide! Nowadays, when I design logos for websites, I often do not design an image anymore and forgo the entire logo design process. This is because search engines and screen readers cannot read the text in an image, so they skip the text when browsing a website. This is such a shame. So for one-page websites, or website where I use big gestures, I usually use a very large font for the company name to make it stand [...]


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. *we will only use the (personal) information you fill out in this form to write a quote for your offer . We do not share this information with others, see for more information about how we handle your data our privacy statement.


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


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 [...]