Comment: is blogging or tweeting about research papers worth it?

December 28, 2012

Just read @melissaterras great article here on her experiences using social media to promote her research papers.

no access

Unsurprisingly the papers she blogged about and tweeted were downloaded more, the only surprise was how much more. I am curious how much of this is because they were available for free download rather than being behind a paywall though. Would similar results have happened had she linked to the usual “you do not subscribe to this journal” message?

It’s another insight into academic publishing which doesn’t make pretty reading for publishing academics.

The paywall adopted by the vast majority of academic journals might as well be designed to prevent people accessing knowledge. But this access problem has no impact on publisher profits. Academics have to publish in these journals because of national research assessment exercises, institutions have to pay for access so that academics can cite the articles in the papers they submit, often to the same journals. Sound like a scam? Feels like it too.

Melissa’s article is going to make me look up the terms and conditions for the papers I have published at least. If the publishing rights allow me to make them available then I will do so. I liked the idea of blog entries giving some human insight into the research process – enjoyable reading but also invaluable to students starting out on a research career in taking some of the mystery out of research. We get our students to blog their project work and this is a natural extension.

I suspect that the journals in which I have published won’t allow me to make the articles available though, I struggle to get access to some of them myself as my employer doesn’t subscribe to all of them. That’s right, I’m not allowed to download the papers I have written, some of which were paid for by the taxpayer via research councils.

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 11.12.09

The good news is that there is some momentum in the movement for open access journals at last. There is a directory of them here and Wiley have joined in to some degree but unfortunately, at least in my area of research, the open access ones don’t carry enough weight for me to get much benefit from publishing in them. Watch this space for updates on my efforts to get more papers out there. Rant over for now, Merry Christmas all!


One comment

  1. […] Ben Shirley's Blog « Comment: is blogging or tweeting about research papers worth it? […]

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