Wrong! A bit of effort can make an enormous difference to the success of your paper.
Why should I publicize my paper?
Publicity increases the number of downloads of your paper, and downloads are necessary for citations, though the correlation isn't perfect. With over a million papers published each year, even with good search tools you can't be sure that the right readers will find your paper.
But might people think you are a shameless self-publicist if you do this? Shouldn't you be spending your time on research rather than publicity?
That's a very old fashioned view. Publicizing your research is the best way to make the most of the resources that your group and funder have put into it. It would be a waste not to do it!
All the tools mentioned below are free -- the only cost is your time.
When should I publicize my paper?
Some journals say that you mustn't talk about your paper before it is published (this is called the 'Ingelfinger rule') and is meant to ensure the paper is 'news' when it comes out). But there is an increasing realization that, in the days of social media, it's impossible to stop authors talking about their work.
If you publicize your paper early, it could build up interest. That way, when it is finally published you will have lots of people talking about it straight away.
A good time for publicity is when you upload a preprint to a server such as arXiv, BioRxiv or PeerJPreprints. Any comments you get on the preprint can be used to improve the paper before you send it to a journal. You may get citations for the paper even before it is formally published!
You can check whether your target journal is OK with preprint publication on this Wikipedia page, and you should also check its instructions for authors for its policy on advance publicity.
How can you publicize your paper?
There are some very simple things you can do first:
- Add the paper to the list of publications on your lab website
- Tell your friends and colleagues
- Email a list of key people in your field telling them (briefly) that it has been published and giving them a link to the full text
- Add it to your LinkedIn profile
Beyond LinkedIn, there are several online profiles where it is advantageous to list your papers. The most important is your ORCID iD. This is a freely available unique identifier for researchers. This iD is a great way to distinguish yourself from other researchers with the same name, and it also links together publications that use different versions of your name (such as misspellings, variations or previous names should you have happened to change your name).
And, your ORCID iD comes with a profile that lists all your publications. You are able to ensure that the right publications are attributed to you and add any that haven't been found automatically.
An ORCID iD also enables you to have an ImpactStory profile. ImpactStory gives numbers for all your papers, such as how many people have downloaded them or tweeted about them. It is a great way to find out how your papers are doing. Some of the same numbers may also be available from the journal page for your paper.
Some researchers write regular blog posts about their research and related issues. This means that when they have a new paper out they have a ready-made audience for a blog post about it. The blog post can give the story behind the research, the human side of how it was done, and the struggles involved in completing it.
Why not try blogging yourself? You can use it to practice your writing skills as well as to write about your work.
If blogging isn't for you, you can still get publicity for your paper on a blog. Look for bloggers in your field and ask if they might write about your paper. Send them a copy in advance of publication to give them time to write, and be available for their questions.
One of the best ways to get exposure for your paper is to use social media. Twitter is the most widely used tool in academia, but other networks have their unique advantages (LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, as already mentioned, plus Facebook, Mendeley, Reddit, and publisher-specific networks). Choose whichever platform you feel most comfortable with, and don't worry about using all of them. It is worth learning about networks you aren't familiar with, though, as they could be easy to use and might help your paper make a big impact.
Twitter is a fantastic tool for keeping up with whatever interests you, and that includes academic research. It is also great for following conferences when you can't be there in person. Any tweet can be passed on (retweeted) by others, so you can reach many more people than just your followers.
Twitter does take some getting used to. I recommend setting up an account a few months early, to give you time to learn how it works. Choose a username under 10 characters that includes some part of your name and something about your research. Start by just following people; there is no need to tweet anything initially. Gradually start retweeting content you find interesting, and contributing to conversations.You will gain followers who will be there when you need them.
On the day of publication, write a tweet telling all your followers that your paper is online, and include a link to the full text (or the abstract if it isn't open access). Also, check whether the journal's Twitter account has tweeted about your paper, and be sure to retweet that.
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