Authors who publish their research in Open Access have at their fingertips an infinite platform for self-promotion: the Internet. Since their publications are automatically available online, anyone who can access the web has the possibility to read them – unlike in the traditional publishing model, whereby visibility and discoverability levels are much more restricted. However, the mere fact that an article or a monograph is available online does not mean that it will be noticed by all potential readers.
The fact is that authors of scientific papers have a key role to play in promoting their works. Without personal involvement in online promotion, it is naive to expect a publication to reach critical mass – nowadays, Internet resources are simply too vast and littered. As a result, one must look at what can be done to ensure that a research becomes more likely to be read.
In the Jisc Inform Newsletter, Brian Kelly presents a particularly interesting list of ten tips. His guidelines should pave the way for any author to successfully promote their own work.
- Be pro-active. Kelly stresses the importance of using all available forms of promotion the Internet provides – for instance, uploading a presentation on Slideshare or YouTube videos, running a blog or a Twitter account. “The key is to find the opportunities you have to promote your work and then make sure you maximize these by being prepared.”
- Monitor what Works. It is recommended for authors to monitor their Internet activity by using tools such as Google Analytics or Topsy, which analyze how messages reach their audience and what becomes popular with other scientists.
- Make it easy for readers. Presentation of the content is key and if done properly, it will significantly facilitate access for potential readers. It is therefore crucial to provide links that directly lead to the relevant book or article, as well as to prepare all the material in a format that can be read on mobile devices.
- Don’t forget the links. Content enriched with links and keywords is better indexed by search engines like Google or Bing. Kelly notes: “between 50-80% of traffic to institutional repositories come from Google”.
- Encourage feedback and discussion.
- Develop your Network. Building a community of readers is very important. Thanks to social media, authors can follow other researchers and add them to their contacts, using hashtags, etc. to expand their network.
- Understand your social media Network.
- Know your limits in the social media environment. Not all social networks are worth using. Authors should focus on websites with large numbers of users and then gather members of these communities who may have an interest in science. It is better to avoid websites that fail to provide sufficient feedback.
- Seek improvements.
- Participate! Authors who are not active on the Internet and fail to use it for self-promotion have little chance of their work being noticed.
Of course, each of these tips can easily be supplemented with additional detail. For instance, in order to promote their works, authors are encouraged to use Twitter and Facebook, as these are obviously the websites that gather the largest number of users. Google Plus is also worth investigating, especially since the launch of its new feature: forums that connect users who are interested in specific topics. Of course, there is a wide range of sites for researchers and academics.
Moreover, the role of mobile devices is constantly gaining importance. The Internet traffic they generate keeps increasing as more and more people are now using tablets, readers and smartphones. In this context, it is crucial to choose a publishing format that meets the expectations of mobile device users. Soon, HTML will have to be replaced by formats like EPUB or MOBI, which are compatible with mobile applications. On this note, it is also important to choose an OA publisher who is ready to promote the work of its authors on the Internet and provide the necessary tools for promotion.
But the most important, as Kelly states, is to participate. However, this participation cannot be occasional. It must be regular – and not only related to the promotion of a particular book or article – as this is the only way for authors to build a social media network capable of effectively promoting their work.