Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Increasing Impact of Scholarly Journal Articles


Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship

v.9 no.1 (Spring 2008)

Back to Contents

Increasing Impact of Scholarly Journal Articles: Practical Strategies Librarians Can Share

Laura Bowering Mullen, Behavioral Sciences Librarian

Library of Science and Medicine, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA


Researchers are extremely interested in increasing the impact of
their individual scholarly work, and may turn to academic librarians
for advice and assistance. Academic librarians may find new roles as
consultants to authors in methods of self-archiving and citation
analysis.  Librarians can be proactive in this new role by
disseminating current information on all citation analysis tools and
metrics, as well as by offering strategies to increase Web visibility
of scholarship to interested faculty. Potential authors of journal
articles, especially those faculty seeking greater research impact,
such as those seeking promotion and tenure, will find practical
suggestions from librarians invaluable. Citation analysis tools
continue to improve in their coverage of social and behavioral science
fields, and emerging metrics allow more flexibility in demonstrating
impact of published journal articles.

Increasing Impact of Scholarly Journal Articles: Practical Strategies Librarians Can Share

Academic librarians are always seeking new ways to use their
expertise to assist faculty and students. Faculty and other researchers
are interested in learning practical tips to increase Web visibility
of their publications, thereby hoping to increase the impact of their
own scholarship by reaching more readers on the internet. The
traditional paradigms are changing, and librarians may be well
positioned for new roles in consulting with clients about methods of
increasing research impact of published articles. This type of reference
service may be especially valuable to faculty seeking promotion and
tenure, or to others wishing to take advantage of developments in open
access for personal gain. By keeping certain strategies in mind when
writing for publication, authors can realize greater impact of their
articles. Academic librarians can disseminate information about
strategies that authors can be use when choosing publications, and
provide information on new methods of proving impact in different ways.

There have been many new developments with citation analysis of
late, and librarians need to be able to educate clientele about
emerging tools and metrics. Impressive new citation analysis tools
allow a researcher to package and demonstrate impact textually and
graphically. New metrics such as the “h-index,” and “eigenfactor” are
providing alternate ways of looking at the impact of citations,
authors, and individual journals.1
Librarians will need to be conversant in these and other emerging
metrics in order to remain relevant to discussions about citation
analysis, especially in STM areas.  New research guides and finding aids
should be made available from the library Website to assist faculty
and others in keeping up with the most current strategies about open
access, and then assisting them in quantitatively demonstrating the
increased impact that may result. There are some concerns about the
costs of providing all of the necessary citation analysis tools within
stretched library budgets. However, some tools are Web-based and free.
Some question whether it should be the province of the library to teach
classes in citation searching and analysis for purposes of promotion
and tenure, or whether it is appropriate for librarians to assist
faculty and other researchers in maximizing their impact through
self-archiving and other means.

By now, it has become fairly well accepted that open access
associated with greater Web visibility increases research impact. A
plethora of quantitative studies are available as part of a helpful
Webliography that librarians may share with researchers. This
Webliography, published by the “Open Citation Project” is updated
regularly, and is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to bolster the
argument that “open access increases research impact.”2
Librarians can offer advice to constituents on strategies to increase
visibility of their peer-reviewed journal articles. Subject specialist
librarians can prepare discipline-specific information on
self-archiving and matters of impact. This information can be
disseminated from the library via the Website, or through personal
consultation between librarian and researcher. Faculty and other
researchers may now be seeking this type of information, and the time
may now be opportune for reference and faculty liaison librarians to
get involved in proactively disseminating practical information. Much
information discussed previously on these topics has largely been
theoretical, or scattered in a variety of library publications and

For more than a decade, many librarians and scientists have
persistently made the case that self-archiving is the open access
strategy that would prove most effective for the rapid and widespread
dissemination of peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. Stevan
Harnad, first in his “subversive proposal” and still today, continues
to advocate for self-archiving of preprints and postprints in
repositories as a mechanism to increase Web visibility. This has often
been called the “green” road to open access.3 
This mechanism of increasing visibility is outside of the traditional
publishing system, and only requires authors to retain rights, and to
deposit their own work in a digital repository of their choice.
Librarians must understand the potential of self-archiving to transform
the scholarly communication system for many disciplines.

Peter Suber has also published many Weblists and articles for
librarians who would like to remain current with open access
initiatives and trends.4
Depending on the university, librarians might not only be expected to
lead the discussion on self-archiving, but also to assist researchers
with the actual process of depositing scholarly work in appropriate
digital repositories. Those working at libraries developing
institutional repositories will also take on the task of encouraging
faculty to participate in the population of the institutional

There are many other types of open access models. Open access
journals, “born digital” on the Web, also offer promise for authors
seeking impact. Open access journals are included in traditional
indexing and abstracting sources, and many have gained prestige in
their respective fields. As with any journal, authors should make sure
the open access journal is one of quality in the traditional sense.
Peer review status, stature of editors and reviewers, and other measures
of quality have transitioned well to this new publishing model.
Librarians may also be asked to help in choosing an open access
publication outlet for a researcher looking to submit peer-reviewed
scholarship to a journal that would be free to all on the Web. Also,
many traditional journals have liberalized policies and changed
business models to accommodate some aspects of open access. Some of the
largest commercial publishers may have liberal policies when it comes
to self-archiving of postprints.

However it is shared and promulgated, information on open access
journals, self-archiving, choosing between different models offered by
traditional journals, and the most current citation analysis methods 
must be discussed and offered to library clientele.  Who will be
responsible for continuous education of librarians in these areas, and
for making decisions about what services will be offered to various
groups?  Librarians may have broken ranks on some of these issues, not
wanting to be responsible for any negative outcome to researchers, or
not agreeing with some of the open access strategies currently being
trumpeted by library advocacy organizations.

Many have heard of open access, but do not know how to apply the
principles and reap the benefits in a strictly practical sense. Open
access is a ubiquitous topic in the library world at the moment, and is
well-established in some STM disciplines. Those in humanities and some
social sciences areas, which have been slower to adopt changes in
scholarly communications, may be more apt to need background
information on the movement. Many are not sure how open access will
affect them. However, information on any strategy for increasing impact
through greater Web visibility will be welcomed by researchers.  This
is information that faculty members and other research clientele of
academic libraries will undoubtedly find compelling and useful.
Librarians may want to share the following strategies with all library
users in person, from the desk, or through the library Website. The
following is an example of a list that academic librarians may want to
disseminate widely. This type of list is targeted not to librarians, but
to faculty and researchers they work with.

What practical steps can authors take to increase impact of scholarly journal articles:

  • Self-archive/deposit publications (preprints and/or postprints)
    in disciplinary archives. These subject- based repositories allow
    researchers to archive electronic documents through a simple deposition
    process. Examples of disciplinary repositories are:
    CogPrints(cognitive science and psychology), arXiv(physics), and E-LIS
    and dLIST(librarianship).  These subject repositories are crawled by
    search engines, and many readers using services such as Google, Google
    Scholar, or OAIster readily find and cite these full-text open access
    materials. Many more readers will see articles than if they are only
    available in traditional journals. Articles may appear in traditional
    journals as publisher PDFs while also appearing in other versions
    (postprints such as final Word document copies) in subject-based
    disciplinary repositories. Subject archives do not guarantee
    sustainability or preservation of publications.  Self-archiving is
    effective for current Web dissemination of work to all potential
    readers. It is up to authors to make sure that signed copyright
    transfer agreements (CTAs) allow self-archiving of scholarly
    peer-reviewed work. Self-archiving in repositories crawled by search
    engines really gets an article out on the Web for all to find and read.
  • To see what publisher allows in terms of self-archiving, check the publisher or journal name in the SHERPA/RoMEO Website.

    This Website describes the kind of archiving the publisher allows; for
    anything beyond what's presented, researcher may need to email the
    publisher or editor. Many journals do not make their copyright transfer
    agreements publicly available. Many only mention permission to
    self-archive on personal Web pages, or in institutional repositories,
    not mentioning subject archives.   Researchers may have to seek
    permission to self-archive in disciplinary/subject repositories.
    • If signing a restrictive copyright, authors may need to get a
      copy of SPARC's “Author's Addendum” to retain more personal rights to
      self-archive. There are other examples of added language from many
      universities that can be found on the Web. These statements may serve
      to extend author rights. Authors must be aware of the importance of
      retaining rights to use of their own work, rather than just signing
      their copyright away to publishers.
    • Deposit all work in an institutional repository.  A repository
      will preserve scholarly output, and pulls together all of an author's
      interdisciplinary work in one location. Permanent digital
      preservation/archiving of an author's work, especially if it has not
      been published in print is very important. The institution's repository
      offers this security, as well as a convenient place to direct others
      to find the entire corpus of an author's work. Personal Web pages may
      be subject to a lack of quality control. Some repositories are crawled
      by Google, aiding discovery by many Web searchers outside the
      institution. Institutional repositories have many other benefits to all
      researchers in the academy.  The visibility of interdisciplinary
      research initiatives in progress or completed, the discovery of
      potential collaborators across the institution, the ability to archive
      datasets, the total research production of an institution displayed in
      one place, and the possibility of integration with courseware are just a
      few of the many benefits. A few libraries mandate deposition of
      faculty work in the institutional repository, but for most,
      participation is voluntary.
    • Make sure when submitting work to traditional commercial or
      society journal publishers that they are participating with Google
      Scholar so Google can crawl the content. Most publishers are now
      “partners” with Google Scholar but some are still only participating in
      a limited way, or not at all. If an author's work cannot be found in a
      search of Google Scholar, it is best to contact any publishers that
      are non-partners and ask them to participate with Google Scholar.  You
      will want your publications to appear in Google Scholar with all of
      their versions, both free and subscription. Many libraries link their
      subscribed collections with Google Scholar for enhanced access, drawing
      more readership to an author's work. Those articles appearing in
      Google Scholar will then benefit from the citation analysis that
    • Seek to publish work in peer-reviewed open access journals.
      Articles published in these scholarly online journals will go quickly
      to the Web to be found by searchers.  Open access journals are free to
      readers, and most are free to authors, so there are no subscription
      barriers. Don't dismiss “author pays” models if research funding is
      available. Make sure open access journals, those “born digital,” have
      high level editorial boards, and prestige in the field.  Authors
      should make sure that the open access journal, as well as any other
      journal of interest is included in as many subject and citation indexes
      as possible to ensure discovery by more searchers of library
      subscription databases. Open access journals are subject to the same
      coverage criteria as any other print or electronic journal when
      applying for coverage by the subject and aggregator indexes. If
      publishing in any journal, make sure that journal is indexed in all
      appropriate subject indexes and databases. Searchers of subject indexes
      will discover these articles, and consider them vetted for scholarly
    • If an author plans to publish work in a traditional, high impact
      journal, it helps to know that some make their older issues open access
      free on the Web after a short “embargo” period. In this case, the
      journal is not open access per se, but all older issues get wide
      circulation on the Web. An example is “College & Research
      Libraries,” which is free on the Web after a six month embargo period. 
      Many of the publishers of these journals allow self-archiving of
      postprints during the embargo period. Even those that do not convert
      their journals to open access still may allow self-archiving of
      postprints. Elsevier is an example of a commercial publisher that allows
      self-archiving of postprints. Authors should ensure that the business
      models of the publications they submit to will eventually allow some
      version of the article(s) to be discoverable via the open Web.
    • Make sure any journal that you publish in has an electronic
      version. If you find one that doesn't, ask if they are considering
      adding this format, and let them know that it matters to you. Journals
      available only in paper format that don't allow self-archiving are seen
      by limited readers in the age of the internet. Articles in some books
      may suffer from this same lack of Web visibility.
    • Authors should send out information about their articles on
      listservs, personal Websites, blogs, and other online communication
      channels, to increase downloads. In the future, number of downloads may
      also have some significance as far as impact. Some publishers
      advertise their “most downloaded articles.” These articles are featured
      on publishers' Websites, and then downloaded more.
    •  As far as increasing impact, it is advantageous if journals,
      open access or not, are indexed by Web of Science and Scopus.  If the
      journal isn't part of Web of Science, it is less likely to be
      considered “prestigious” by some faculty bodies.  If it is not included
      in Web of Science, it will not have a published “impact factor.”
      Journals with high impact factors are cited more often, and considered
      more prestigious. This is especially true for STM areas, less likely
      for some other disciplines, especially in the humanities. For authors
      trying to demonstrate impact, journals covered by these indexes would
      be important.
    • Follow citation impact in Google Scholar, Web of Science, and
      Scopus to get a more comprehensive picture. Web of Science, although
      the traditional “gold standard” of citation analysis, is especially
      lacking in humanities areas. Scopus has much greater coverage of titles
      in both sciences and social sciences, and some additional features for
      citation analysis. Google Scholar uses an automatic algorithm, and
      therefore returns some interesting results. Still, Google Scholar will
      uncover citations from a different set of materials, and will provide
      some indication of impact for authors. When using Google Scholar, and
      the new metrics based on it, such as Harzing’s “Publish or Perish,”5
      researchers need to be reminded that librarians are not sure what
      publications are being covered, and the algorithm used to do the
      analysis still remains somewhat unknown. The other citation indexes
      publish coverage lists, and are clear about their algorithms.  Still,
      Google Scholar should not be discounted for citation analysis due to
      its heavy use in academia.
    • Consider putting non-refereed materials in repositories also. To
      deposit, material doesn't have to be peer-reviewed. Preprints are
      allowed in many repositories because the material hasn't been
      “published previously.” Preprints can give scholarly articles Web
      visibility prior to certification in a peer-reviewed journal. This
      practice can vary by discipline, and some publishers may not accept
      articles that have been made available on the Web before submission.
      Some fields such as high energy physics have been using a preprint
      model for quite some time. Other fields do not have such a preprint
    • Sharing research data has been shown to increase citation impact.
      Depositing supplementary data in a repository, or publishing it
      alongside an article in an open access journal has been shown to gather
      more citations to the accompanying article. One recent study of cancer
      clinical trials shows that sharing data may increase impact in some
      fields by as much as 70%.6
    • Authors may use a combination of many of the above; there is no
      limit as to where a particular work may be self-archived. Rather than
      the traditional practice of simply signing away copyright to a
      scholarly publisher, a copy can also be deposited in the institutional
      repository, archived in subject/disciplinary archives, and on personal
      Webpages if the publisher allows. This deposited article is usually the
      postprint (often in the form of a final Word document), or a preprint
      (often already accepted by a publisher). Branded publisher PDFs, in the
      case of commercial or society journals, usually face restrictions as
      far as archiving.
    The main point is for academic librarians to offer faculty authors
    and other researchers some proven strategies to get their peer-reviewed
    articles seen by more people on the Web. This will potentially raise
    the profile and impact of published work. This impact can then be
    quantitatively demonstrated with both traditional and new citation
    analysis tools. Librarians can compile lists of tips and strategies to
    assist authors and researchers in these areas. These lists can be
    published as Web guides, or shared with faculty and researchers in
    other ubiquitous ways. Appropriate places for this information would be
    the “faculty services” area of the library Website, the scholarly
    communications committee Website, in brochures distributed at desks,
    and as part of research consultations and fora with faculty and other
    researchers. Librarian expertise in these areas will have great value
    to researchers in the academy, and enhance the suite of services that
    the library can provide in a new and changing research environment.
    Librarians must prepare for, and welcome the conversation.


    1. Hirsch, J.E. "An Index to Quantify an Individual's Scientific Research Output." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA
    102, no. 46 (2005a): 16569-72.; West, Jevin, Ben Althouse, Carl
    Bergstrom, and Ted Bergstrom. "Eigenfactor.Org:  Ranking and Mapping
    Scientific Knowledge."

    2. The Open Citation Project - Reference Linking and Citation Analysis for Open Archives."

    3. Okerson, Ann Shumelda, O'Donnell, James J., ed. Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads:  A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing.
    Washington, D.C.: Association of Research Libraries, Office of
    Scientific and Academic Publishing, 1995; Harnad, Stevan. "Fast-Forward
    on the Green Road to Open Access:  The Case against Mixing up Green and
    Gold." Ariadne 42 (2005).

    4. Suber, Peter. "Lists Related to the Open Access Movement."; Suber, Peter. "Open Access Overview:  Focusing on Open Access to Peer-Reviewed Research Articles and Their Preprints."

    5. Research in International and Cross-cultural Management. “Publish or Perish.”

    Piwowar, Heather A., Roger S. Day, and Douglas B. Fridsma. "Sharing
    Detailed Research Data is Associated with Increased Citation Rate." PLoS ONE 2, no. 3 (2007): e308.

Increasing Impact of Scholarly Journal Articles

Increasing your citation rates - Leeds University Library


Increasing your citation rates

There are a number of ways that you can improve your citation rates as a researcher, here are some suggestions, based on this literature review on improving citation counts, conducted in March 2014:

  • Make research outputs open access where possible
    Evidence shows that open access articles are cited significantly more than non-open access articles. 
  • Where funding permits publish using the gold open access route where possible 
    Publishing via the Gold open access route can result in research being made open access immediately for other researchers to read and cite.
  • Share your research data where possible
    Evidence suggests that clinical trials which shared their data were more frequently cited than trials that did not. Sharing research data can make research more accessible and visible.
  • Use a consistent author name
    Evidence shows
    that using a consistent author name throughout a research career can
    help to enhance retrieval of a researcher's output. Changing names
    throughout a career can make it difficult to associate research output
    to the correct author.
  • Use an author identification system
    Evidence suggests that using an author identification system such as ORCID or ResearcherID can
    help to ensure research outputs are accurately linked to a researcher's
    profile and as a result, improve the visibility of the research. These
    systems can be particularly useful in overcoming problems with
    inconsistent name formats, legal name changes, highly similar names,
    common names etc.
  • Include 'University of Leeds' in the institutional affiliation field of all research outputs
    the standardised institutional affiliation "University of Leeds" in all
    research outputs ensures they are clearly affiliated with the
    University of Leeds and as a result, improve the visibility of the
  • Use online media to promote and link to your research 
    suggests there are statistically significant associations between
    higher citations for articles and the use of various social networking
    sites such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and forums.
  • Collaborate with international authors across multiple institutionsEvidence suggests that international collaborations lead to higher citation rates. Promotion
    and disseminating opportunities of the collaborating institutions and
    less overlap between personal networks of authors can help to increase
    citation impact.
  • Collaborate with the corporate sector
    Evidence found that academic-corporate collaborations increase the citation impact of papers.
  • Publish review articles
    Evidence suggests that review articles typically produce more citations when compared to other types of papers.
  • Self-cite previous work when appropriate and relevant Evidence
    shows the more an author cites their own work then the more the author
    is cited by other researchers. Self-citations should not always be
    considered improper, especially when the work that is being cited is
    relevant and appropriate.

Increasing your citation rates - Leeds University Library

How to Increase Your Citation Rates in 10 Easy Steps (part 1 and part 2)

 Source: and

How to Increase Your Citation Rates in 10 Easy Steps (part 1)

Increasingly, funding agencies and prospective
employers are demanding ever more from their potential researchers. In
the past, publishing in well-known international journals was enough.
Not any more. The new metric that is being used to measure the status
(and arguably the impact) of a researcher is the number of citations of
their journal articles. This is really tough on young researchers,
especially in fields that either move slowly or at least publish slowly.
However, there are proactive measures that one can take to increase
citation rates. Here are 10 of them.

1. Publish, Publish, Publish

If your research is only available as a thesis, there are only a few
brave souls who will read it. Many students when they finish their
doctorates are fairly burnt out. They are tired of their topic, annoyed
with their supervisor, and/or focused on their new job and new life.
Years of poverty (and possibly chastity) often temper one’s enthusiasm
for digging through old data to start new publications. Unfortunately,
amongst life’s uncertainties there are only two things no one can take
from you. These are your degrees and your publication. Thus, buck up
your pride, turn on your computer, and start writing. Do this every day
for at least one hour until your manuscript has been submitted to a
journal. Repeat this until every piece of interesting data and/or
analysis has either been published or is at least being reviewed.

2. Publish Where It Counts

Not so many years ago, the number of “reputable” journals was fairly
small. Now the choice of where to publish can be quite daunting, and
many of the options currently available are not particularly good. As a
simple rule of how to select an acceptable journal is to check that it
is indexed in the Institute for Scientific Information (more commonly
known as Thomson ISI or just ISI). If it is not, many academic
institutions will not consider it as having a sufficiently high impact
to be counted towards hiring or promotion. Not all of your publications
have to be ISI indexed, but most should. At a minimum they should appear
in Compendex. Compendex’s standards for inclusion are not as rigorous
as ISI but still much higher than many of the other indexing options
(e.g. Google Scholar). Additionally, unless you are in computer science
or a few other special areas, a conference paper holds little weight in
hiring and promotion decisions.

3. Check the Review Cycle Duration

Another consideration in selecting a journal is its review cycle. You
want to avoid having your paper in review for a year and then having it
either rejected or spending another year until the revisions are
accepted. Determining the length of the review cycle can be difficult,
but some journals publish the expected duration of their review cycle in
their mission statement. Additionally, you can always write to the
editor for this information. As a rule of thumb, if the journal does not
have an electronic submission system, the review cycle is likely to be
very long. Another good thing about journals with short review cycles
is that even if your paper is rejected, you can quickly get it submitted

4. Make Certain There Are On-line Preprints

A related factor is the publication cycle. Just because your paper is
accepted does not mean that it is available. It may languor in an “in
press” status for more than a year. This is really bad. To avoid this,
many journals have now gone to electronic preprints. This means that
within days of acceptance the paper is assigned a unique digital object
identifier (DOI) and is electronically published. For most major
academic publishers (e.g. Taylor and Francis, Elsevier), this is now the
norm. Where this is not yet uniformly the case is for journals
published by professional or trade organizations. To compound this
issue, many of these publications only appear quarterly and can have
long backlogs. Thus, an accepted paper may not be published for an
additional one to two years. In today’s highly competitive climate, few
researchers can afford to wait that long.

5. Publish a Review Paper

Years ago, the top journals would not publish review papers, as they
were not considered as original research. This position has changed
quite dramatically as editors have come to realize that good review
papers are often highly cited. These citations translate to higher
impact factors for the journals (a factor on which many authors base
their decisions on where to publish; but impact factors are a subject
for another day). Thus, review papers are now fairly welcome. While one
cannot make a career of writing review papers, one or two well placed
ones can help greatly increase your overall citation count. As one’s
career progresses these citations become the basis for establishing
other indices that consider not only the total number of citations
acquired by each paper but the aggregate of the citations from all of an
author’s citations.

How to Increase Your Citation Rates in 10 Easy Steps (part 2)

In part 1 of “How to Increase Your Citation Rates”,
recommendations were made relating to publishing all that you can,
writing a review paper, and investigating where to publish, along with
the specifics as to determining a journal’s review and publication
cycles. Five additional suggestions are provided below:

1. Use Open Repositories

An open repository is typically a publicly-accessible Internet site
that provides a no cost version of the finalized text, images, and
tables of published journal papers from individuals affiliated with the
hosting body. Most commonly this is a university or group of
universities. Due to copyright issues, papers are often not in their
typeset format. This will depend upon the publisher. There may also be
an enforced waiting period of 12-24 months. The administrator of the
open repository can usually advise as to the requirements. Despite these
modifications, your research will be freely available to anyone with
internet access. Many funding agencies, especially in the health
sciences are now requiring that all published output that was generated
from their funds is publicly available in some type of no cost format.
If your institution does not have an open repository, there are other
options such as ResearchGate (, which
promotes itself as a social networking site for scientists and
researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find
collaborators. Participating will also enable others to contact you
about your papers. Another option is to simply post your cv on-line with
hyper-links to non-copyright protected versions or with an email
address where researchers may request a version directly from you.

2. Get full credit for your papers and your citations

Due to publisher requirements, the exact format of your name may not
appear consistently on all of your publications (e.g. Debra Laefer,
Debra F. Laefer, D Laefer, DF Laefer) This may cause confusion for
organizations and algorithms that compile citation statistics. There
will be an even greater chance that you will not be credited with all of
the papers you have written, to say nothing of the affiliated
citations, if you have changed your name, changed organizational
affiliation, or have a common name (e.g. Brian Smith). One way to
minimize this is to consciously select a name under which you will
publish and stick to it. If you have a common name, this may mean
including a middle initial or name that you do not usually use. If you
changed your name, this may mea continuing to publish under your maiden
name, even if it is no longer your legal name.

Another way to help the situation is to set up a profile on Google
scholar ( The system will also allow you to
identify where versions of your paper may appear with slightly different
titles, even though there is only one publication. This often happens
when a title has a hyphenated word or an author’s name is easily
misspelled. Google scholar also gives you an instantaneous way to check
your citations. Finally this will assist other scholars looking for one
of your publications to quickly check if there is related work that you
have published that may also be of interest to them.

3. Publish Your Data Sets

Archiving one’s data sets is simply good practice. Think of it as
using cloud computing to the “nth” degree. Datacite and similar
organizations can assign a unique digital object identifier to the data.
This allows you to increase your research profile and to have something
else with which to collect citations. Because of the high cost of data
collection, it also provides an opportunity to develop a reputation for
high quality data generation, even if others do not agree with your
processing or interpretation methods.

4. Let Others Know What You Are Doing

In some fields and at some institutions, sending out press releases
is common practice. Even if this is not the case at your current
organization, there is nothing preventing you from doing this (however
you should probably check with your institution’s press office to see if
their approval is needed for such things). Often such notifications
lead to small articles in science sections of local and national
newspapers or specialty trade publications. Another option is to send
your articles to colleagues and researchers in the area. Being an
academic is not for the faint of heart or the shy of spirit. Success
requires at least some level of self-promotion. So when you have
published something of which you are proud, let others know. Send a copy
to the top 5 or 10 academics in the area. Perhaps they will ignore your
overture, but perhaps not. With email and electronic versions of the
paper, all it costs is 15 minutes of your time and setting aside any
misgivings. The rewards could be fantastic including being asked to
give a guest lecture or to serve as a collaborator. It might even lead
to your next job offer. In short, there is simply nothing to lose.

5. When Appropriate, Cite Yourself

No journal reviewer likes to see a manuscript dominated by
self-citations, but if you have done previous work in the area in which
you are writing, do not exclude your own contributions from literature
review, as well as anything needed in the methodology or comparative
results section. As a rule of thumb, limit self-citation to a maximum of
three references and only include journal papers.

How to Increase Your Citation Rates in 10 Easy Steps (part 2)

Share this article:

Article Published: May, 2014

How to Increase Your Citation Rates in 10 Easy Steps (part 1) - Careers Advice -

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Effective strategies for increasing citation frequency

Volume 6, Issue 11, 2013, Pages 93-99

Effective strategies for increasing citation frequency

Research Support Unit, Centre of Research Services, Institute of
Research Management and Monitoring (IPPP), University of Malaya,

Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Najafabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad, Isfahan, Iran

Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, 43600, Malaysia

Department of Financial Sciences, University of Economic Sciences, Tehran, 1593656311, Iran

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Faculty of Information Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, 43600, Malaysia

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Advance Informatics School (AIS), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Due to the effect of citation impact
on The Higher Education (THE) world university ranking system, most of
the researchers are looking for some helpful techniques to increase
their citation record. This paper by reviewing the relevant articles
extracts 33 different ways for increasing the citations possibilities.
The results show that the article visibility has tended to receive more
download and citations. This is probably the first study to collect over
30 different ways to improve the citation record. Further study is
needed to explore and expand these techniques in specific fields of
study in order to make the results more precisely. © by the author(s).

Author keywords

Citation frequency; H-index; Improve citation; Open access; Research impact; University ranking

ISSN: 19139020
Source Type: Journal
Original language: English

DOI: 10.5539/ies.v6n11p93
Document Type: Article


Scopus - Document details

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Scholarly Publishing | Your Copyright: Increase the Impact of Your Research


Your Copyright: Increase the Impact of Your Research

MIT Libraries

Information for MIT authors

Why retain rights?

  • Many publishers create significant barriers for authors who want to
    reuse or share their work, and for access to that work by others.
    Negotiating changes to standard publisher agreements can help authors
    avoid these obstacles, thus increasing options for authors as well as
    readership, citation, and impact of the work itself. (Openly available
    articles have been shown to be more heavily cited.)
  • Publishers routinely change the agreements they ask authors to sign.
    If you have not secured rights you want as an author, the publisher may
    alter its practices over time.
  • Making research and scholarship as widely available as possible
    supports MIT’s mission of “generating, disseminating, and preserving
    knowledge, and to working with others to bring this knowledge to bear on
    the world’s great challenges.”
  • MIT Faculty unanimously adopted a policy
    in March 2009 that ensures their scholarly articles will be openly
    available. Through this policy, faculty give MIT nonexclusive permission
    to make their scholarly articles available and to exercise the
    copyright in those articles for the purpose of open dissemination. This
    policy exists prior to any publisher copyright agreement. To be
    thorough, MIT recommends that you communicate this policy to your
    publisher and add to any copyright license or assignment for scholarly
    articles an addendum stating that the agreement is subject to this prior license.
  • Some research funders request or require that work created with
    their funds be made available openly on the web. Their policies can be
    reviewed at the “Juliet” site. Other institutions also have open access policies or mandates.

Which rights to retain?

  • MIT authors are often most interested in retaining rights to:
    • Reuse their work in teaching, future publications, and in all scholarly and professional activities.
    • Post their work on the web (sometimes referred to as “self-archiving”) e.g. in DSpace@MIT, MIT’s research repository; in a discipline archive (such as PubMed Central or arXiv ; or on a web page.

How to retain rights?

  • Authors should specify the rights they want to retain, as most
    publishers do not extend these rights to authors in their standard
  • One simple way to retain rights is to use the MIT Copyright Amendment Form.
  • This form enables authors to continue using their publications in their academic work; to deposit them into DSpace@MIT;
    and to deposit them into any discipline-based research repository
    (including PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine’s database
    for NIH-funded manuscripts).

Which publishers are likely to be flexible about these rights?

  • Publisher policies and agreements vary considerably. The “Romeo” database offers a convenient summary of many publisher copyright policies & self-archiving.
  • Publisher policies and agreements are usually linked from the author
    information or article submission section of a journal’s website.
  • Publisher policies change over time, and the terms stated on their
    websites often vary from the terms of their actual agreements, so it is
    important to read the agreement itself.

Where do I go with questions about these issues?

  • The MIT Libraries’ Program Manager for the Office of Scholarly
    Publishing & Licensing, Ellen Finnie Duranceau: efinnie at /
Please note: The concepts from this page are also developed in a powerpoint presentation: “Scholarly Publication and Copyright: Retaining Rights & Increasing the Impact of Research” from July, 2007.

Scholarly Publishing - MIT Libraries | Your Copyright: Increase the Impact of Your Research

Sunday, 11 January 2015

How do I get read and cited if I do not publish in elite-journals? | SciELO in Perspective


How do I get read and cited if I do not publish in elite-journals?

Photo: sj_sanders
Photo: sj_sanders.
Recently on the ResearchGate blog1 Professor Rolf Henrik
Nilsson of the University of Gothenburg proposed the recurrent question
that always comes to new researchers (and not so new), namely: How can
you increase the visibility of your published articles?2

Most researchers who are not in the select group of privileged who
publish in elite-journals or Q1 journals, wonder what is the recipe to
enhance the impact of their publications.

Professor Nilsson started an interesting debate that, within the two
weeks since he published his post, has received about 30 contributions
from dozens of universities and institutions as distant from each other
as Estonia Physical Society, Manchester Metropolitan University,
University of Melbourne, California State University, Spanish National
Research Council, Universidad de Monterrey, University of Waikato, etc.

Nilsson’s starting point focuses on the goal of increasing citations
impact as a matter of public relations. He does not consider the Impact
Factor of elite-journals, WoS, Scopus, etc.; this will be the result of a
proper promotion campaign. To start the debate, Nilsson offers some
classic actions and invites other researchers to reveal their helpful
advice (tips).

  • Publish preprints/post prints in repositories like arXiv or similar.
  • Take a good amount of reprints for upcoming conferences that you will attend.
  • Write a press release with the aid of the press office of your university.
  • Send notes to an appropriate e-mail list.
  • Include copies of the paper on the news panels in the canteens of universities you work and visit.
Then, a cascade of ideas came out; over 30 different suggestions were recorded, some of which we mention in this note:

  • Attach copies of the first page of your article on the billboard of
    social rooms of your working place or at institutions you visit for
  • Make a brief presentation (free) of your paper on campus, and serve cookies and coffee to the public.
  • Give a conference on the topic in class and then include it in the exam subjects.
  • Ask your students to make a review of the paper or to complement it, and assign qualifications.
  • Aggregate the paper’s title on your Web CV page under “Recent Publications”.
  • Advertise the publication on sites like ResearchGate or Facebook,, Mendeley, Scribd, ORCID, Epernicus, and all other free
    social media sites you know, and if you are not registered, do so and
    advertise your work.
  • If possible, publish the article in Open Access journals, such as SciELO and PLOS journals.
  • Send a copy of your article to authors who write textbooks for
    higher education institutions. The authors review their books regularly
    and it is possible that they will include your article in the
    bibliography of the new edition. Both students and teachers read the
    books and your article will be included.
  • Send copies of your article to all the authors who have been
    included in your references, they will thank you for having been cited,
    and it is possible that by reciprocity, they will cite you in the
Some more sophisticated and elaborate ideas also came out, e.g., an
idea submitted by a Professor from the Iowa State University. This
researcher searched in Google Scholar the frequency of results for each
of the descriptors associated to her paper or to the title’s key words.
Then, all terms that obtained many results in Google Scholar were
replaced by more precise terms, so that reduced the response. For
example, on her work on a sort of bean, when she sought ‘common beans’,
she obtained 32,700 documents, but using ‘Phaseolus vulgaris
she got 289,000, for which she used in her article ‘common beans’
increasing, in this way, the likelihood for her article to be retrieved
by a researcher in the field. Furthermore, it is important to use in the
abstract different synonyms of the key words of the title and

Other advices by Paul Goldberg can be found on his blog in an article
called ‘The pursuit of citations’, in which we highlight two

  • Write with a good amount of coauthors, and ask each one of them to
    engage on public relations, which will increase the dissemination.
  • Regardless of your research field being large or small it is much
    more important whether it is a rapidly growing one or whether the
    community is losing interest on it. It is not important that your area
    is large; it is more important whether it is growing.
Finally, if you want a more complete list of 33 strategies, we
recommended you to read a paper published in 2013 in ‘International
Education Studies’ entitled Effective Strategies for Increasing Citation


The amount of citations you receive in your paper will not be
mechanically inherited by the journal’s importance (IF) where it has
been published, but rather from your promoting actions and marketing.


1 ResearchGate (
is a social network of researchers around the world that links over 5
million researchers with the purpose of sharing publications and access
to scientific outcomes.

2 NILSSON, R.H. How do you increase the visibility of published article? [viewed 30 October 2014]. Available from:

3 GOLDBERT, P. The pursuit of citations. Paul Goldberg. [viewed 30 October 2014]. Available from:

4 EBRAHIM, N.A., et al. Effective Strategies for Increasing Citation Frequency. International Education Studies. 2013, vol. 6, nº 11, pp. 93-99. Available from:

Ernesto SpinakAbout Ernesto Spinak

Collaborator on the SciELO program, a Systems Engineer with a
Bachelor’s degree in Library Science, and a Diploma of Advanced Studies
from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain) and a
Master’s in “Sociedad de la Información” (Information Society) from the
same university. Currently has a consulting company that provides
services in information projects to 14 government institutions and
universities in Uruguay.

How to cite this post [ISO 690/2010]:

How do I get read and cited if I do not publish in elite-journals?. SciELO in Perspective. [viewed
11 January 2015]. Available from:

How do I get read and cited if I do not publish in elite-journals? | SciELO in Perspective

Effective Strategies for Increasing Citation Frequency


Effective Strategies for Increasing Citation Frequency

Journal Reputation and Impact:
publishing a paper in a journal based on disciplinary reputatation or
with a high impact factor is the most well known way of getting your
paper cited. But there are many other things a scholar can do to promote
his or her work and make it easy for others to find.

Utilize Open Access Tools:
Open Access journals tend to be cited more than non open access.
Deposit your paper in a repository such as Scholars Archive here on
campus or a disciplinary repository. Share your detailed research data
in a repository.

Standarize Identifying Info:
try to use the same name throughout your career as well as the name of
your affiliated insitution. Using common "official" names will allow for
consistency and easy retrieval of your work by author or affiliation.

Bring Colleagues on Board:
team-authored articles are cited more frequently, as does publishing
with international authors. Working cross-or inter-disciplinarily helps
as well.

Beef Up That Paper:
use more references, publish a longer paper. Also papers which are
published elsewhere after having been rejected are cited more

Beyond Peer-Reviewed Original Research: Write a review paper. Present a working paper. Write and disseminate web-based tutorials on your topic.

Search Optimization:
use keywords in the abstract and assign them to the manuscript. Use
descriptive titles that utilize the obvious terms searchers would use to
look for your topic, avoiding questions in the title. Select a journal
that is indexed in the key library databases for your field.

Market Yourself:
 create a key phrase that describes your research career and use it.
Update your professional web page and publication lists frequently. Link
to your latest and greatest article in your professional email
signature file.

Utliize Social Media:
Use author profiles such as ResearcherID and ORCID. Contribute to
Wikipedia, start a blog and/or podcast, join academic social media

From: Ebrahim, N.A., et al.
(2013). Effective strategies for increasing citation frequency.
International Education Studies, 6(11), 93-99. doi:10.5539/ies.v6n11p93

Basics - Scholarly Metrics - Library Guides at University at Albany

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Citation Management


All Citation Management products have these basic features to help you:

  • Gather and transfer references from databases/resources/webpages into your personal research database
  • Organize, annotate, sort and search your references, images and PDFs
  • Insert in-text citations and reference lists into documents in a wide variety of styles (MLA, APA, etc)
  • Create stand alone bibliographies in a wide variety of styles
Check out the Comparison Charts for product special features!

Before you choose, here are some questions to ask yourself...

  • Does the tool support the citation styles that you will need?
  • Does the tool support the kinds of sharing capabilities that you will need?
  • Which databases or websites do you use most frequently? Is the tool compatible with those sites?
  • Do you need to capture webpage snapshots? Do you want to store PDFs? What are the file formats that you will be collecting?
  • Do you need to work off-line? Do you work from multiple places?
  • Do you need a product for a lifetime collection of references?
  • Do you need to consider a post-Yale life?
  • Do you collaborate with other researchers at Yale and/or outside Yale? What product(s) do others on the team use?
 For more information, check out the Comparison Charts!

Home - Citation Management - Yale University Library Subject Guides at Yale University Library

Altmetrics - Research Impact, Citation Analysis & Altmetrics


Resources & Altmetrics Tools

  • Altmetric Explorer
    created and maintain a cluster of servers that watch social media
    sites, newspapers and magazines for any mentions of scholarly articles.

    mid January 2012 we were tracking approximately three thousand unique
    papers a day. We have broad coverage and are getting better every month -
    we can track articles from hundreds of different publishers, preprint
    databases and institutional repositories. If somebody has recently
    tweeted, blogged or posted a public link to your paper then we quite
    possibly know about it.

    We clean up the data, disambiguate articles and give each one an Altmetric score..."
  • altmetrics
    one can read everything. We rely on filters to make sense of the
    scholarly literature, but the narrow, traditional filters are being
    swamped. However, the growth of new, online scholarly tools allows us to
    make new filters; these altmetrics reflect the broad, rapid impact of
    scholarship in this burgeoning ecosystem. We call for more tools and
    research based on altmetrics."
    "With altmetrics, we can
    crowdsource peer-review. Instead of waiting months for two opinions, an
    article’s impact might be assessed by thousands of conversations and
    bookmarks in a week."
  • Faculty1000
    F1000 core database is updated daily and includes over 100,000
    evaluations of the top published articles in biology and medicine.
    Articles are selected, scored, and evaluated by our Faculty of over
    10,000 expert scientists and clinical researchers who cover over 3,000
    peer-reviewed journals.
  • ImpactStory
    Tell the full story of your research impact.
    ImpactStory aggregates altmetrics: diverse impacts from your articles, datasets, blog posts, and more.
  • LinkedIn altmetrics group
    group is for hackers, scientists, librarians, policy makers and
    publishers interested in new ways to measure scholarly impact.
    altmetrics go beyond citation-based metrics and simple usage factors and
    look at the opportunities the Web offers to rethink the notion of
    "impact" and its measurement."
  • Mendeley altmetrics group
    aim of this group is to discuss new approaches to the assessment of
    scholarly impact based on new metrics. altmetrics go beyond traditional
    citation-based indicators as well as raw usage factors (such as
    downloads or click-through rates) in that they focus on readership,
    diffusion and reuse indicators that can be tracked via blogs, social
    media, peer production systems, collaborative annotation tools
    (including social bookmarking and reference management services)."
  • PaperCritic
    offers researchers a way of monitoring all types of feedback about
    their scientific work, as well as allows everyone to easily review the
    work of others, in a fully open and transparent environment.
  • PLoS Impact Explorer
    PLoS Impact Explorer allows you to browse the conversations collected
    by for papers published by the Public Library of Science
  • Plum Analytics
    "Plum is building the next generation of research metrics for scholarly research.

    Metrics are captured and correlated at the group / collection level (e.g., lab, department, museum, journal, etc.)

    We categorize metrics into 5 separate types: Usage, Captures, Mentions, Social Media, and Citations. Examples of each type are:
    *Usage - Downloads, views, book holdings, ILL, document delivery
    *Captures - Favorites, bookmarks, saves, readers, groups, watchers
    *Mentions - blog posts, news stories, Wikipedia articles, comments, reviews
    *Social media - Tweets, +1's, likes, shares, ratings
    *Citations - PubMed, Scopus, patents "
  • Twitter results for #altmetrics

Altmetrics - Research Impact, Citation Analysis & Altmetrics - CampusGuides at University of Cincinnati

Citation Analysis Tools & Instructions - Research Impact, Citation Analysis & Altmetrics


 Citation Analysis Tools & Instructions

section introduces the souces available to the UC community for
creating citation counts and conducting citation analysis and explains
their coverage and method of searching.

Click on any of the source options below or the drop down menu above to navigate to the desired resource:

WEB OF SCIENCETHE original citation research source and, along with Google Scholar, the most interdisciplinary and most comprehensive citation resource available to UC researchers.


resource frequently used for citation analysis and journal ranking
statistics. The Scopus claims to be the "largest abstract and citation
database of peer-reviewed literature and quality web sources with smart
tools to track, analyze and visualize research."

GOOGLE SCHOLARAn interdisciplinary source of citation research but heavily skewed to the sciences and unpredictable in its coverage.


Citation Analysis Tools & Instructions - Research Impact, Citation Analysis & Altmetrics - CampusGuides at University of Cincinnati

Unique Author ID Resources - Author Identifiers - CampusGuides at University of Cincinnati


Unique Author ID Resources

Below are a number of resources used for unique author
identification. Most require registration on their website. Some, such
as ORCID and ResearcherID, support integration between products.

  • ORCID (Open Researcher & Contributor ID)
    Nonprofit, started in 2009, all disciplines
  • ResearcherID: Thomson Reuters
    Thomson Reuters, started in 2008, all disciplines indexed in Web of Knowledge

    ResearcherID: "The ResearcherID ORCID integration allows for the
    seamless exchange of publication data between the two
    systems...ResearcherID and ORCID are complementary attribution
    identifiers, and it is essential that scholarly authors and researchers
    have both. ORCID is a platform-agnostic identifier, whereas the
    ResearcherID identifier is specific to Thomson Reuters."
  • Scopus Author Identifier: Elsevier
    Elsevier, started in 2006, all disciplines indexed in Scopus
  • arXiv Author ID
    University Library, started in 2005, discipline specific: physics,
    mathematics, computer science, and related disciplines
  • PubMed Author ID Project
    National Library of Medicine, started in 2010, life sciences disciplines
  • OpenID
    remember your passwords? Tired of filling out registration forms?
    OpenID is a safe, faster, and easier way to log in to web sites."

Unique Author ID Resources - Author Identifiers - CampusGuides at University of Cincinnati

How to Read Scientific Research Articles:


Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fall 2009

URLs in this
document have been updated. Links enclosed in {curly
have been changed. If a replacement link was located,
the new URL was added and the link is active; if a new site could not be
identified, the broken link was removed.
[Board accepted]

How to Read Scientific Research Articles: A Hands-On Classroom Exercise

Roxanne Bogucka

Science Instruction Librarian

University of Texas

Austin, Texas

Emily Wood

Reference/Instruction Librarian

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom

Lakewood, Washington

Copyright 2009, Roxanne Bogucka and Emily Wood. Used with permission.


Undergraduate students are generally unfamiliar with
scientific literature. Further, students experience frustration when
they read research articles the way they read textbooks, from beginning
to end. Using a team-based active learning exercise, an instruction
librarian and colleagues at University of Texas at Austin introduce
nutritional sciences students to a method for reading research papers.
Librarians provide student-pairs with one section (introduction,
methods, results, or discussion) of a scientific research article.
Student-pairs read, discuss, and take notes, then join with pairs
assigned the other sections of the article to compare their
understanding of the research presented. The exercise reinforces
students' critical evaluation skills by providing a productive reading
strategy based on the purpose of each section of the research article.
This paper describes the active learning exercise and discusses its
implementation and evolution.


In the fall semester of 2007, Roxanne started teaching three library
instruction sessions for an upper-division nutritional sciences course
with a significant writing component. The class typically has between 20
and 30 students. Students in the course identify, read, analyze, write
about, and present scientific research on selected topics in nutrition
and human health. The class is structured as a journal club, with two
major assignments -- a favorite paper presentation and a literature
review presentation. For the favorite paper assignment, students send a
research article of their choice to their classmates, who prepare two
questions for the presenter to address on the day he or she discusses
the selected article. Students similarly receive and submit questions on
classmates' literature reviews, which student reviewers address during
their scheduled presentations.

The instructor wanted students to learn how to search PubMed, how to
read and evaluate the articles they found in their searches, and how to
cite these articles, preferably via hands-on exercises.

The sessions incorporated active learning. Active learning is a
method of teaching that brings students into the process of their own
education through discovery and participation (Lorenzen 2001; Grassian & Kaplowitz 2001), and often involves a social aspect, such as collaboration among peers (McGill 2004).
Active learning methods have been used for some time in library
instruction, especially in health sciences library instruction (Francis & Kelly 1997; Fosmire & Macklin 2002)
but can be challenging for librarians to practice when their exposure
to students is limited to one session and they have much material to
cover (Drueke 1992).
Since Roxanne was meeting with the class for three instruction
sessions, we could build upon what students had learned during and in
between the earlier instruction sessions and devote more time to active
learning exercises.

It was easy enough to conceive what a hands-on session on PubMed or EndNoteTM
would look like, but creating a how-to-read exercise took more
investigation. Searches on reading scientific articles uncovered several
works that describe the typical sections of a research article and
their contents, plus a few recommended reading methods. Leedy (1981)
advises tackling an article straight through, but re-reading the
problem statement immediately after finishing the discussion section to
see whether the conclusions are congruent with the question posed. Polit
(2010) recommends skimming and a close re-read, followed by writing a synopsis. Gehlbach (1993)
advises busy clinicians to save time by reading an article's Methods
section first, since any Discussion or Conclusions arising from unsound
methodology would be of dubious value. While he has a point, a
Methods-first approach is too challenging for our population -- novice
users of scientific research.

Greenhalgh (2003)
notes two challenges novice users face in understanding scientific
literature -- inability to select the right types of articles for an
information need and a lack of strategy for effectively reading the
articles. These two skills -- evaluation and critical reading --
informed the learning outcomes for our information literacy session.

Searching for tutorials led to an excellent Flash animation from the Purdue University Libraries, "How to Read a Scientific Paper,"
and a useful note-taking form for reading scientific articles
(Purugganan & Hewitt 2004), which was adapted for use in the
nutritional sciences class. Repeat viewings of the Purdue tutorial led
Roxanne to wonder what readers would learn about an article if they had
only one section of it. Once that question arose, the article-reading
exercise practically planned itself. In the spring of 2009, the authors
co-taught the how-to-read session.

Materials Needed

For the main portion of this exercise, we selected three or four
research articles, to produce 12 or16 article sections. We generated the
article sections (Figure 1) by:

  • locating a PDF of the article
  • concealing or effacing the article title and journal title from every page
  • masking off sections of text so that the only text, figures, and
    tables visible are those that belong in a particular section
    (introduction, materials and methods, data/results,
    discussion/conclusions) of the paper. (You can do this rather tediously,
    using paper and a photocopier, or rather easily using Adobe Acrobat's
    Redaction feature if you have access to it)
  • labeling each article section with the name of the first author
  • printing out each complete article, plus each article's four masked sections

Figure 1. Sections of Cheung et al. 2008: a) introduction b) methods c) results d) discussion
In addition, we created a folder in Academic Search Complete that contained:

  • a link to full-text of a research article with IMRaD (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) (Polit 2010) structure
  • a link to full text of a review article
  • database records with abstracts for at least three research articles and an equal number of review articles
We supplied note-taking forms for the students. It helped that chairs
and desks could be shifted around into small discussion groupings in
the classrooms used, but the exercise can be managed in rooms with
static furniture.


The instruction session included several strategically placed active
learning exercises designed to replicate the research process for the
class's journal club assignment. At the end of the session we wanted
students to

  • analyze an article's structure and content in order to distinguish research articles from review articles
  • analyze elements of a database record in search results in order to classify an article as research or review
  • understand what information can be found in sections of a typical research article in order to read more efficiently
  • apply knowledge of reference tools in order to increase comprehension of research articles
We began by having students talk about their previous experiences
with scientific articles. Students were asked to describe common
elements in the structure of the articles they'd seen. We showed
students an IMRaD-format research article and a review article and drew
them into a discussion of the structural differences between research
articles and review articles. To check understanding, we displayed the
full text of other research articles and review articles and had
students distinguish between the two based on their structure.

Once students were able to distinguish between research and review
articles, we moved on to the abstract. For this assignment, students
needed to find and present on research articles. We wanted students to
be able to determine quickly whether search results in a database were
research or review articles, and to be able to decide whether a given
research article was worth their time based on the information conveyed
in the abstract.

From the folder we set up in Academic Search Complete, we displayed
database records with abstracts for several scientific articles. Working
as a class, students analyzed the language used in the abstract and/or
title, to determine whether an article presented original research or
reviewed the current state of research. From this activity the students
identified textual cues to help them learn to recognize abstracts for
research articles.

With this basic understanding established, we moved to the research
article reading exercise. We asked students to work in pairs but
depending on the size of the class and the day's attendance, some
students occasionally had to work as solos or in threes. Each pair
received an article section and a note-taking form (Figure 2).We took
care to avoid giving adjacent pairs sections from the same article.
Student pairs were allowed 10 minutes to read their sections and take
notes. Since we needed to re-use the article sections in a later class,
we asked students not to highlight their article section or write on it,
but to use the note-taking form instead.

Figure 2. Note-taking form (adapted from Purugganan & Hewitt 2004)
We circulated through the classroom during this time, listening to
students' discussions of their article sections. When the 10 minutes
were up, we asked for a show of hands for all pairs that read sections
labeled Author A, Author B, Author C, etc., and had pairs move to sit
with the others who had read sections of the same article. Student pairs
were then given eight minutes to report out within their groups, in
this order: 1st, Methods pair; 2nd, Results pair; 3rd, Introduction
pair; 4th, Discussion pair. During the reporting phase we circulated
throughout the classroom, listening to the reports, glancing at
note-taking forms, and asking questions as needed to elicit students'
comments on the relative comprehensibility of their particular article

Though there was of course some variation, in most groups the pair
who read the Discussion section was most able to answer questions on the
note-taking form. Typically Discussion and Introduction pairs knew the
most about the research presented, while Methods pairs and Results pairs
had the least understanding of what their article was about. By having
students share their differences in information and understanding, based
on which section of the article they read, this exercise demonstrates
the value of the reading method we recommend for them, ADIR(M) --
Abstract, Discussion, Introduction, Results, (Methods).

Step 1: Abstract. Although it is not part of the reading exercise, we
tell students to start here and ask, "Is this article relevant enough to
proceed to the full text, or should I move on to another article?"

Step 2: Discussion. Ask "What are the researchers' findings?"

Step 3: Introduction. Ask "Why did the researchers do this study?" and
"Does the research question match up with the conclusions I read in Step

Step 4: Results. Ask "Are the data collected appropriate to answer the
research question?" and "Do the data support the conclusions?"

Step 5: Methods (optional). Ask "How can I repeat this study?" and "Are these methods suitable to gather the results reported?"
To close the instruction session we encouraged students to use online
reference sources as they read articles, to look up unfamiliar terms,
concepts, and methods. We modeled this process by taking a term from a
research article we had used earlier in the session and searching for it
in Gale Virtual Reference Library. The students also were shown how to
find e-book dictionaries in the library catalog and where to access
additional tips on research articles on the library web site.


Our assessment of the effectiveness of these instruction sessions has
been strictly informal, through discussions with the course instructor
and a teaching assistant, and through comments from students. The course
instructor appreciated that this instruction session mirrored, on small
scale, tasks required for the course's major assignments, the favorite
paper presentation and the literature review presentation. The
instructor also reported that students show a better grasp of the
material, which she attributes to their ability to search for and
efficiently read scientific articles. She observed that the session
significantly reduced students' apprehension surrounding the scientific
literature research process and said that after this session students
reported that they felt more confident about their research abilities.
In recent course evaluations the instructor has scored highly when
students are asked if the "Instructor has increased my knowledge and
competence in this course." She attributes this response to this
collaboration with librarians for information literacy instruction.


Overall, students respond positively to the how-to-read exercise
because it quickly shows them that some scientific article sections
reveal more than others. After the active learning exercise students
seem more receptive to the reading method we suggest. This hands-on
exercise will continue to evolve, based on feedback from course
instructors and teaching assistants, as well as from students.


The authors wish to thank Michele Ostrow and Robyn Rosenberg for their comments on this article.


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