Friday, 3 April 2015

In the race for citations, journal editors and authors should work together | Open Science


In the race for citations, journal editors and authors should work together

Academia is more and more crowded

April 3, 2015
Citation count is widely seen as the best proxy of impact
in the academic community. The success of authors and journals depends
on their citation scores. That is why, both journal editors and authors
wonder how to attract the academic community to cite their articles or
journals more. And this is why journal editors and authors should work
together to solve this problem.

If you are an author, who is not a Nobel Prize Laureate, you are
probably wondering how to improve the chances of your work being cited.
And believe me, the managing editor of the journal you are submitting
your work to is doing exactly the same, because he or she needs your
article to be cited, to increase the prestige of the journal. There are
several things to think over together in order to maximize the chances
for success.

It is necessary to know about an article to cite it

Let’s try to understand the mechanism of citation. Not every article
that is read is cited. I might know about 100 articles on one problem,
but when I write an article about it, I will probably only cite 20 to 40
of them. The reasons why authors cite one article over another might be
different, and they are probably different in various fields. The only
thing that is certain is that someone cannot cite an article they have
never heard about. Thus, the discoverability of an article is not
sufficient to get cited, but it is necessary.

The quality and the novelty of your research, alongside with the
popularity of your subject may influence the chances of it being cited.
But, discoverability is key to further recognition. Even the most
important work cannot be cited if it cannot be found. And academic
publishing is more and more crowded, with millions of researchers and
tens of thousands of journals worldwide. Competition for visibility is
getting harder in every discipline. Part of discoverability is
determined by the publication venue almost automatically, with the
journal’s popularity and abstracting and indexing services,
which are offered by the publisher, but another part depends on the
content of the article itself and the way this content is promoted.

Authors should cooperate with publishers to make their research
output discoverable. This is good for both parties, but it may also help
students, patients, policymakers, journalists, activists and general
public. If you think that your article includes some important
information, then consider also how to make it easily accessible for
everyone else. If no one can find the information, it is useless for

I used to write a lot about the different ways of increasing discoverability on this blog (have a look here).
I plan to write more on this subject and I will try to show what the
cooperation between the author and the editors looks like in terms of
increasing the visibility of a paper. For now, I will just point out
that it is the responsibility of both the editors and authors. More to
come in my next entries.

SEO is not just for robots – it is mostly for humans

More and more people (including professional researchers and
students) search for literature using Internet tools and the Internet is
increasingly crowded. That is why Search Engine Optimization is a must.
And journal editors who want to increase the readership of their
serials have to cooperate with authors to optimize articles to make them
more discoverable. This is in the common interest of both the journal
and the author.

Yes, I know that both authors and editors have enough of work, trying
to maintain the high quality of their articles. SEO will not replace
scientific quality, but may support it. Search Engine Optimization also
means making academic articles more friendly for users (not just for
machines). This is because the most popular search engine in the
academic world is the human brain, and making articles easier to find
also means making them clear and easy to read. However, it is worth
stressing here that SEO is not only about writing. It is more and more
about images, which should be attractive, well described and in a vector
(not raster) format. For more SEO tips have a look here.

So, if you are an author, do not be surprised when your editor asks
you to improve your keywords, to slightly change your title or to write a
better abstract. And if you are an editor, do not hesitate to talk with
authors about SEO. It will help both of you in your work.

Image credit: Dharmadhyaksha.

This entry was posted on April 3, 2015 by Witold Kieńć and tagged , , .

In the race for citations, journal editors and authors should work together | Open Science

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