Maximizing Journal Article Citation Online: Readers, Robots, and Research Visibility

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    Note from the Editor

    Maximizing Journal Article Citation Online:Readers, Robots, and Research Visibility

    EMMA R. NORMANCo-Editor in Chief, Politics & Policy

    Online peer-reviewed academic journals bring much-touted benefits toauthors. They can enhance an articles visibility, link ones researchrapidly to the appropriate web of key literature, and bring it to theattention of more scholars who will use it, thus boosting the chances ofmaximized citation hits. Yet writing an article for online distribution ina way that takes advantage of these benefits is different from preparingone for print journals in some small, but important, respects. To becited, articles have to be both visible in an electronic environment andperceptively relevant to their key audience from the outset. Afterintroducing the first online-only issue of Politics & Policy (a print-driven journal for 40 years), the editor covers some techniques authorsshould consider when submitting to online journals, from writing asearch engine-friendly title and abstract to tips on how authors canmaximize visibility once an article is published.

    Keywords: Maximizing Citations, Writing Online Journal Articles, OnlineVisibility, Academic Search Engine Optimization, Journal Article Titles,Abstracts.

    Related Article: Teaching the Net Generation, (2011):http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1747-1346.2011.00287.x/abstract

    Related Media: Podcast (Bowling 2009):http://wileyblackwellexchanges.com/2011/11/19/publishing-workshop-the-online-authors-survival-guide/Podcast (London School of Economics 2011b):http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/podcasts/Video clip (Roy 2011):http://www.ted.com/talks/deb_roy_the_birth_of_a_word.html

    Politics & Policy, Volume 40, No. 1 (2012): 1-12. 10.1111/j.1747-1346.2011.00342.xPublished by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The Policy Studies Organization. All rights reserved.

  • Politics & Policys Fortieth Volume: Online-Only Distribution from 2012

    Academic journal publishing is changing. Fast. We are all no doubt acutelyaware that the ways we search for, find, select, store, retrieve, evaluate, process,use, connect, cite, and even read (Moody and Bobic 2011; Nielsen 2006)scholarly research have transformed dramatically over the last decade, and arelikely to evolve more quickly in the future as new technologies, resources, andapps become availableoften monthly. It is, thus, no surprise that many majorpaid-access academic journals have found their readership and subscriptiontrends moving inexorably toward online-only use. Demand for journal issuesconsumed as an integrated whole has given way to the institutionallysubscribed, or pay-per-view, single-article download as the favored methodpermitting selectivity and maintaining quality in an era of information overload.As a result, scholars gain more freedom to tailor article consumption to theirspecific research needs. One consequence in terms of impact ranking is that thenumber of views/downloads of individual articles may be starting to count inthe same way as the number of citations indexed for a particular piece (Davis2011, 5; The National Federation of Advanced Information Services 2009).The two measures are not always positively correlated, however, especiallyin open-access journal articles that may not always ensure standardized quality(Davis 2011) in the ways that online subscribed-access journals do throughrigorous peer review.

    All these developments have important implications for Politics & Policy asa journal rather than a mere repository of individual articles, for what it canoffer readers, and for how submitting authors can improve their chances ofpublication, views, downloads, and citations.

    Improved Journal Features: Increasing Visibility

    Welcome to the first issue of Politics & Policys fortieth volume, and a newchapter in its long history. In January 2012, all Policy Studies Organization(PSO) journals moved to electronic-only distribution in line with rapidtransformations in the industry. This will not only give a broader reach andvisibility to Politics & Policy and its articlespast, present, and futurebut itwill also be accompanied by enhanced services for readers and authors. If youhave not already done so, take a few seconds now to sign up for free Table ofContents (ToC) email alerts whenever a new issue of Politics & Policy isreleased. Please register or sign into Wiley Online Library, and click Get NewContent Alerts in the journal tools menu. To celebrate our fortieth year, wewill be releasing two special e-issues in addition to the normal six, so this alertwill be extremely handy.

    This issue launches the first of the technical improvements we have plannedfor release throughout the year. All previous features of the online HTMLarticles will remain, including the jump to navigation box, and hyperlinks to

    2 | POLITICS & POLICY / February 2012

  • titles, abstracts, or full-text material in the references and text. This year,together with Wiley-Blackwells initiative in developing CrossRef further, weendeavor to provide more and speedier in-text fast linking to works cited in theHTML versions of the journals articles. While still dependent on specificinstitutional journal subscriptions and the stability of external webpages, thisshould bring as much electronically available material to your fingertips aspossible, while minimizing those annoying dead links so ubiquitous in manyonline sources.

    Also, fast links are now flagged at the beginning of each article to relatedarticles in Politics & Policy that may not be cited in the text. We hope to extendthis feature to include related articles in all the other ten PSO journals, whichtogether span the widest spectrum of quality research in the policy studiesdiscipline. So if you are signed in to Wiley Online Library and your institutionsubscribes to the PSO journal bundle, the full texts of all related articles fromthese eleven publications devoted to policy will be a click away. Links at the endof the article are also planned for the future to more easily return to the journalhomepage, review its aims, scope, and author guidelines, submit an article,bookmark the article or track its citations, receive alerts, download a PDF, orcheck PSO proceedings and conferences. We are currently working with Wiley-Blackwell to increase the interactive dimension of the downloadable PDFversions of Politics & Policy articles, too.

    Later in the year, we hope to introduce some more ambitious links to mediathat extend beyond the usual journal articles, webpages, and online datacollections cited. Links to media that were conventionally avoided as impracticalin traditional print journals have now not only become possible, they can reallyenliven an article, review, or symposium, expanding its audience and its use inresearch circles as well as in teaching. Just as online journals have already sweptaway previous obstructions to complex colored data presentation, the vibrancy,longevity, and potential use of an article can be increased by including or linkingto relevant images, video clips, related syllabi, seminar plans, presentationmaterial, animated files, sound files, and podcastsall much in demand intodays classrooms. In Politics & Policy this year, a related media section willindicate such material is present.

    Finally, to commemorate Politics & Policys fortieth year of publication, wewill be launching two free e-issues in addition to our customary six. The first,which should be released very soon, is appropriately a retrospective look at someof the most notable articles from the journals long history that stand out for theirintellectual rigor, groundbreaking scholarship, popularity, and continuedrelevance. Several are award-winning, some rate among the journals mostdownloaded articles to date, and a few have been judged by the editors andassociate editors as simply too darn good to leave out! The second e-issue will bereleased later this year on a narrower topic. We hope that, in celebration of thejournals arrival at that certain age of self-confident maturity, you find thesee-issues and the articles in this number as useful as we have!

    Norman / NOTE FROM THE EDITOR | 3

  • At this electronic turning point in the journals history, both my co-editorand I felt that a longer and more substantive note would be appropriate and,given the extraordinary amount of both open- and subscribed-access articlesthat have flooded the web over the past few years, an author guide tomaximizing citation and online visibility is particularly fitting.

    Maximizing Visibility and Citations: Five Things You Always Wanted to Knowabout Writing an Online Article (But Were Too Busy to Ask)

    You do not have to be a webmaster, a bibliometrician, or a member of theGoogle generation to encourage more citation of your online articles. A fewsimple techniques can enhance their visibility and impact in a way that neitherpanders to machine logic nor massages an articles ranking illegitimately. Thetechniques should not alter central arguments, structure, or general writing styleat all. If anything, the additional reflection will bring out the qualities of theseparts of an article more strongly, which is what ultimately leads from downloadsto citations. Articles should still be methodologically sound and justified, wellgrounded theoretically, written clearly, and structured logically. They shouldalso contain a good, current literature review, contribute something new, useful,and interesting to that literature, deliver a thorough and stimulating discussionof their findings, and offer a satisfying conclusion. Yet just a little more timespent focusing on a few areas can do much to increase downloads and improvecitation hits in an electronic environment.

    Several author guides (Lafaye and Bowling 2009; London School ofEconomics (LSE) 2011a; Wiley-Blackwell Author Services 2011), scholarlyarticles (e.g., Beel, Gipp, and Wilde 2010), and podcasts on enhancing the writing(Bowling 2009) and measuring the profile (LSE 2011b) of online articles cover indetail the areas discussed below and are well worth reviewing. The following fivebroad areas distill the main features in these ongoing discussions, and add someelements from the perspective of Politics & Policys editors in chief. They are, ofcourse, suggestions onlybut there is much evidence to show that following afew of them will enhance the online visibility and citation of your articleconsiderably.

    1. Make your article easy to find online.2. Motivate viewers to read on and download.3. Make it easy for others to use and connect to the relevant literature.4. Use media and links creatively.5. Disseminate the published article across your own networks.

    Choose a Search Engine-Friendly TitleThe most effective way to gear an article to optimal online visibility is to

    ensure it is easy to find by those who will view, download, and hopefully cite it

    4 | POLITICS & POLICY / February 2012

  • by making its title search engine-friendly. As both producers and consumers inthis market, a greater awareness of our own methods for searching and selectingrelevant literature is indispensable in developing search engine-savvy writingtechniques.

    Since the articles title largely determines how close to the top of a readerssearch results it will appear, construct titles carefully, and with keywords inmind. If a title is search-unfriendly, a study will not have much chance of gettingseen, let alone read or citedat least as a result of electronic searches. Articletitles are now largely sorted by machines first, and humans second. Asconsumers of research online, our search practices already reflect an awarenessof the limitations of virtual reasoning in our keyword choice and combination.As producers, we have some catching up to do!

    Search engines rank literal association and clarity in titles above subtle wit,clever plays on words, or obscure references to Aristophanes, Woody Allen movies,or Aesops fable of the ant and the grasshopper. These reference are therefore moresuitable for section headings than article titles. Traditionally, the identity of thepublishing print journal provided sufficient context for an erudite reader to makesense of, and appreciate the depth of, such titles. Online searches for single articlesacross multiple journals, publishers, and disciplines turn up a far wider array ofresearch options, but search engines lack the ability to contextualize nonliteralmeaning. And without a stable context, sometimes so do we. When we type inhooves, computers will not only retrieve horses before zebras, they willretrieve hooves first. As (re)searchers, we understand this; as writers we need to.

    There are some exceptions to this rule, but the most search engine-friendlytitles not only provide a clear description of the specific topic of the article(Wiley-Blackwell Author Services 2011), they ideally indicate the centralargument or findings it will advance (for some excellent examples, see LSE2011a). This does not mean titles should be uncreative or dull, however.Search engines deliver initial visibility, but it is the human appeal that thendetermines if an article is read or not. Research shows that including unique,memorable words and phrases in a title together with important keywordsdistinguishes it in the minds of an audience, making it easier to recognize in areaders download or bookmark library, or find again later on the net.Analysis conducted independently on scientific (Habibzadeh and Yadollahie2010), medical (Jacques and Sebire 2010), and psychology (Whissell 1999)journal articles also reveals a growing consensus that longer titles are morepositively correlated to higher citations than short ones, as is the presence ofa colon and an informative subtitle, and the use of nonquotidian language.While such systematic research has yet to be published on political sciencearticles, browsing the top-downloaded and cited articles in Politics & Policy,and the major policy and political studies journals suggests that it is also likelyto apply to this discipline too. So definitely write for readers not robots(Wiley-Blackwell Author Services 2011), but try to ensure that at least the titleis something the robots can understand.

    Norman / NOTE FROM THE EDITOR | 5

  • One way to verify this is to run searches in different engines with prospectivetitle(s) before submission, and see what these retrieve. Then try enteringvariations of the phrases and keywords (LSE 2011a). If the top 50 results are notclose to the articles subject, or do not include works you viewed or cited,consider refining your title accordingly and check it shares at least one or twokeywords with related work.

    As I mentioned earlier, there are exceptions to the purely descriptive titlerule. Ambitious titles are trickier for search engines to handle, but if constructedwell, can work tremendously for views and downloads in other ways. Oneetched forever in my brain is Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth Cause ImKissin Y...

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