How Journals Can Help Scholars Promote and Resurface Articles
January 7, 2016
For Melissa Terras,
Director of University College London’s (UCL) Centre for Digital
Humanities, it makes a big difference. In 2011 Terras began blogging and
tweeting about the 26 articles she’d published up to that point,
inspired by a UCL initiative for all faculty to archive the final
pre-proof versions of their articles in the university’s institutional
repository. In the process of sharing her past works online, Terras
quickly discovered that she was not the only one engaging with the
“I realized that when I put these blog posts up pointing to my
research the downloads of them increased dramatically, from a factor of
100 in some places,” she explained. “Of course, you can’t know who is
actually reading an article from downloads alone. But, the really
interesting thing happened about 2 years later when citations started to
appear. It became clear that the articles that I had posted quite a lot
online were the ones that other people had found and were citing.”
Since her experiment, Terras continues to share her work online and
sees others doing the same. With more scholars embracing the benefits of
blogging and social media as a way to draw attention to their articles,
Terras also sees a lot of opportunities for journals to help.
Provide Forums for Scholars to “Talk” About Their ResearchScholarly content is being disseminated at unprecedented rates online
with no sign of slowing down, causing researchers to have to work
harder for their work to be seen. For Terras, “talking” about
scholarship on blogs and social media has served as a way to create
multiple avenues for academics to stumble on her work in online
searches, as well as an opportunity for her to show different sides of
the research she’s done.
“A lot of times there’s an exciting story behind a research project.
Something happened that led to you having a conversation, which lead to
this grant, which lead to a paper. I’ve enjoyed being able to cover on
my blog the sort of behind the scenes of research that you don’t get to
include in academic papers,” said Terras.
Journals can help facilitate scholars who are using blogging and
social media as a means of broadening the reach of their research by
starting publication blogs and inviting authors to contribute posts
about their articles. Journals can also use their social media channels as sounding boards for discussing research and outside content authors are producing related to their articles.
Terras said open access journals, especially, should be taking
advantage of the possibilities of finding ways to share their research
with wide audiences online. “Open access and social media really go hand
in hand,” she said.
Help Scholars Track Alternative Impact IndicatorsWhether or not your journal chooses to maintain a blog and/or social
media presence to promote the articles you publish, one thing you can do
to help authors broaden the reach of their articles is provide them
with alternative level metric or altmetrics reports.
“Few journals that I’ve published in actually let people know these
kinds of stats. I think that’s something they could add and improve on,“
said Terras. "I’ve published across a range of subjects and it’s
interesting to see which ones get the most downloads and where and how
they are being shared.”
Showing researchers that your journal reaches a wide audience can
also help you attract submissions. Terras said for her, proof of a
journal’s ability to disseminate research means more than many other
“I couldn’t care less about an Impact Factor,” she said. “I am only interested in my research reaching an audience.”
Embrace Opportunities to Link and Resurface Related ResearchIn addition to seeing opportunities for scholars and journals to blog
and tweet about both new and existing research, Terras said she sees an
opportunity for journals to take a more active role in resurfacing
“What I would like to see happen in the next 4 or 5 five years, as a
lot of journals are accruing a lot of OA content, is journals doing more
to kind of repackage and highlight related research,” said Terras.
“Journals could provide links between things rather than only sharing
links to new volumes of new issues. We should be seeing more
intelligence built into academic publishing in the future.”
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