UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Paper Accepted for OR12: Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 3 July 2012

I’m pleased to say that a paper by myself and Jenny Delasalle, Academic Services Manager (Research) at the University of Warwick, which asked “Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” has been accepted for the Open Repositories conference, OR 2012.

This paper, which is available from the University of Bath institutional repository, is based on work initially published on this blog.

A blog post entitled “How Researchers Can Use Inbound Linking Strategies to Enhance Access to Their Papers” published on 2 March 2012 described an Inbound linking strategy to get to the top listing on google fast. It occurred to me that my willingness to make use of researcher profiling services such as Academia.edu, ResearcherID, Scopus, Researchergate, Mendeley, Microsoft Academic Search and Google Scholar Citations may have helped to enhance the visibility of my research papers which are hosted in the University of Bath repository. The blog post went on to describe how I found that I was author of 15 of the most downloaded papers in the repository from my department.

More recent investigations reveal that, as illustrated, I have the largest number of downloads of any author at the University of Bath! This was recently brought to the attention of the PVC for Research who, in a departmental meeting, informed me that a University of Bath Research Group had discussed these figures and asked me to share the approaches with other researchers at Bath. In response I mentioned that the approaches I’d taken, the evidence I’d gathered, the hypothesis I had proposed for explaining the evidence, possible alternative hypotheses, the limitations of the approaches, the implications of the findings and areas for further work had been submitted to the Open Repositories 2012 conference – and if the paper was accepted the findings would be available to all, and not just researchers at my host institution.

The paper explores other possible reasons for the high visibility of these papers – and one possibility worthy of further investigation is the provision of many papers in HTML formats and not just PDF and MS Word. However the use of popular researcher profiling services such as LinkedIn and Academia.edu are felt to be worth recommending to researchers in order (a) to ensure that their research papers can be more easily found by their peers on these services and (b) so that links to the paper on their institutional repository can enhance the visibility to Google of the papers as well as enhancing the Google ranking of the repository itself.

Of course it probably needs to be said that that the number of downloads is not necessarily an indicator of quality. However the converse is also true: just because a paper in a repository is seldom viewed does not indicate that it must be a great paper! I am quite happy to promote the use of such approaches since increased numbers of views, especially for the target communities, can help to both embed the ideas given in the papers by practitioners and increase the likelihood that the papers will be cited by other researchers. In my case I’m pleased that, according to Google Scholar Citations, my most cited papers have been cited 87, 67, 54 and 40 times.

My co-author Jenny Delasalle has been investigating use of researcher profiling service at the University of Warwick, her host institution. It was interesting that in Jenny’s research she found that a number of commercial publishers encourage their authors to use services such as LinkedIn and Academia.edu to link to their papers hosted behind the publishers paywalls – and yet we are not seeing institutional views of the benefits of coordinated use of such services by their researchers. Institutional repository managers, research support staff and librarians could be prompting their institutions to make the most of these externally provided services, to enhance the visibility of their researchers’ work in institutional repositories.

Surely it is time for the research community to develop inbound linking strategies to their research work, especially as this can be done so simply. Indeed the OR12 conference organisers have invited us to summarise the ideas described in a poster and a one-minute presentation. The ideas have been summarised using the Pixton cartoon generation tool in four strips.

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I’m not sure if it will be possible to use PowerPoint during the one-minute madness but I have prepared some slides which are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

NOTE: A one minute summary of this paper was given on the opening day of the OR 12 conference. A video recording of the summary is available on Vimeo and embedded below.

Also note that a slightly modified version of this post was published on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog on Thursday 23 August 2012. You can also view the bit.ly statistics for access to the post via the bit.ly URL.


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7 Responses to “Paper Accepted for OR12: Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories?”

  1. Nice. I just downloaded this article and will read it shortly but I ought to mention that Academic.edu is misspelled several times. You might be able to correct it before Monday ;-P

  2. You have a high profile (personally) and you are writing about repositories for an audience who are interested in repositories which you host in a repository. In some respects, it would be extremely odd if you didn’t get a high download rate?!?

    The interesting question is how your experiences can be applied across scientific and other communities who don’t share the same environment (yet).

    • Hi Andy
      The paper was about my other papers, on topics such as web accessibility, web 2.0, web preservation, standards, etc. The paper didn’t cover the downloads of the paper itself – for obvious reasons!
      The paper does mention the possibility that the downloads are due to the profile of the authors themselves, but this would not explain the popularity of older papers which have not been mentioned in the Web 2.0 era.
      I agree with you that further work is needed to see if such experiences are valid in other contexts – the paper concludes by making this point.

  3. Hi Brian

    Melissa Terras has a related story to tell in a recent RSP presentation and related blog posts.

    There’s no question it’s a message worth pushing, and maybe some wider advocacy like your ‘toons is in order (though I have questions about the anatomical proportions of the woman in the purple jumper).

    In many ways, isn’t it the latest incarnation of what I once characterised as “Use the feeds“. There isn’t obviously a “RSS Feed” app for LinkedIn (is there?) but if there were then a dynamic feed of publications from an EPrints repository would be trivial.

    I have an aversion to Academia.edu, so haven’t looked at it for a couple of years, but I’ve a grudging respect for the power of LinkedIn and the degree of respectability and usefulness it’s achieved. (I’ve been having fun with the ‘Add Projects’ feature lately, have you?).

  4. [...] wrote a blog post that summarises the paper and another about the poster session. Jenny has blogged further thoughts on the original paper as part of this ongoing [...]

  5. [...] asked Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories? has  been summarised in a post on the UK Web Focus blog. At the OR 2012 conference itself this summary had to be given in the challenging context of 21 [...]

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