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Managing your research profile

Academic authors now have the means to manage their own research profile. There are Web 2.0 applications to help them: blogs, for example, which give their views – and their results, if they care to post their data on the web in this way. Presence in the ‘blogosphere’ does seem to give researchers who blog interesting views or impressive results considerable visibility.

Open Access repositories also provide an excellent means for researchers to boost their online presence and raise their profile. Since Google and other Web search engines index OA repositories, the contents are available to all with Web access. One example has surfaced recently that illustrates the point very effectively.

The example is from a researcher at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia and concerns a chemist, Ray Frost. Ray has deposited in QUT’s repository around 300 of his papers published over the last few years. This large number provides a decent base on which to examine effects of OA.

The charts below show the data on Frost’s publications. They were created from the Web of Science database. The one on the left shows the papers Frost has published each year since 1992. These papers between them have been downloaded 165,000 times from the QUT repository. On the right are the citations he has gathered over that time period.

Ray Frost charts jpeg

From 2000 to 2003, citations were averaging about 300 per year, and were flat-lining, on 35-40 papers per year. When Frost started putting his articles into the QUT repository, the numbers of citations started to take off. The latest count is 1200 in one year. Even though Ray Frost’s publication rate went up a bit over this period – to 55-60 papers per year – the increase in citations is much bigger. The extra impact is a direct result of him making his work Open Access so that more people could see it and cite it.

The QUT library staff routinely add DOIs (digital object identifiers – the permanent link to the published article on the publisher’s site) to each article deposited in the repository. People seeing the record of one of Frost’s papers in the QUT repository and who can access the published version via this link will generally do so. The 165,000 downloads are therefore mostly from users who do not have access to Ray Frost’s articles through their own institution’s subscriptions to journals – the whole purpose of Open Access. That’s where the extra readership comes from – and the new citations follow from it.

So, managing your research profile first of all means making sure that your work is Open Access. Put every article you write in your institutional repository as soon as it has been peer-reviewed and ready to send off to the publisher for the final time. Once that first step is done, then put effort into providing links to your papers wherever appropriate – when you write an email to a colleague about your work, when you submit an abstract to a conference programme committee, when you write a blog post or comment on someone else’s. In these days of ‘instant information’ people will not spend time searching for articles that they cannot quickly see in full-text. You are ahead of the game if you make your work OA. Here is what one author, a philosophy scholar who self-archives his work in a philosophy OA repository, said:

“Self-archiving in the PhilSci Archive has given instant world-wide visibility to my work. As a result, I was invited to submit papers to peer-reviewed conferences/journals and got them accepted.”

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