Open Access and Open Practices for the Connected Researcher


Today, Monday 22 October 2012,  sees the start of Open Access Week, #OAWeek. As described on the Open Access Week Web site:

Open Access Week, a global event now entering its sixth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.

In my work at UKOLN, University of Bath I have a responsibility for supporting the UK’s higher education sector in maximising the potential of the Web to support key institutional activities which, of course, includes supporting research activities.

My work includes writing peer-reviewed papers and giving talks at conferences about emerging innovative practices; I have a particular research interest in Web accessibility and additional interest in Web standards, Web preservation, open practices and Web 2.0. Clearly making use of Open Access approaches can help to maximise awareness of my ideas and can help to increase citations by other researchers and adoption of the ideas by practitioners.

Making Research Publications Available in an Open Access Repository is Not Enough!


But making one’s research publications available in an open access repository is not enough!  As I described in a post on the UK Web Focus blog entitled “If a Tree Falls in a Forest” papers deposited in a repository may fail to attract any interest. There is a need to be pro-active in helping those who may find one’s research of interest – and the findings of a poll (illustrated) included in a post which asked Are You a Marxist in Your Approaches to Research? shows that I am not alone in my belief that researchers should be willing to make use of technologies to enhance access to one’s research.

Earlier this year in a post entitled Is blogging and tweeting about research papers worth it? The Verdict Mellisa Terras reported that after tweeting about her research publications, of the top ten downloaded papers from her department in the last year, seven include her as the author.

Mellisa’s success in making use of Twitter together with her blogging activities reflect the experiences I have had – and in my case, with a current total of 14,050 downloads, I find myself being the researcher with the largest numbers of downloaded papers at the University of Bath. I should hasten to add that a large number of downloads is not necessarily an indication of the quality of my research, but does suggest that the approaches I use are effective in supporting my dissemination work. And since my social network includes many of my peers, it is likely that fellow researchers are more likely to access my papers. I can also point to four of my research papers which, according to Google Scholar Citations (and illustrated below), have been cited between 40 and 93 times as evidence that the papers have been viewed by fellow researchers.



Sharing Strategies for Success

What are the secrets of my success? Perhaps I should charge a fee for sharing my tips :-) However as someone who has a personal commitment to the use of open practices to support my work I am making my suggestions freely available under a Creative Commons licence.

I am participating in Open Access Week by sharing my experiences of making use of the Social Web to maximise access to papers hosted in institutional repositories. Tomorrow (Tuesday 23 October 2012) I am giving a talk on “Open Practices for the Connected Researcher” in a seminar which is part of a series of Open Access Week events which are taking place at the University of Exeter.

On Thursday, as described in a news item published by the University of Salford, I am the invited guest speaker for an Open Access event which will take place at the  Old Fire Station at the University of Salford where I will give a talk on “Open Practices and Social Media for the Connected Researcher“.

The following day I will be giving a talk on “Open Access and Open Practices For Researchers” at the University of Bath. This event, which marks the launch of a Social Media programme for Researchers, will include a presentations from Ross Mounce, a PhD student and Open Knowledge Foundation Panton Fellow at the University of Bath, who will talk about the need for true Open Access (as originally defined), why it matters and the plethora of options we have for OA publishing in addition to my talk.

My Top 12 Tips


In the talks I will be giving a number of tips which I feel can help researchers make use of the Social Web to maximise the visibility of their research papers. The tips are based on my personal experiences and I will be providing evidence to justify the following tips:

  1. Be pro-active: When, for example, presenting a paper at a conference. At the recent W4A  2012 conference myself and my three co-authors of a paper on “A challenge to web accessibility metrics and guidelines: putting people and processes first” agreed ways in which we would inform members of our professional networks of the delivery of the paper.
  2. Identify the key channels: You will probably which to maximise the number of accesses for a paper hosted in an institutional repository. In our example we made use of Twitter and Slideshare.
  3. Monitor what works: It can be useful to view usage statistics which can provide comparisons with previous work and with the approaches taken by your peers.
  4. Don’t forget the links: Make it easy for those who are interested in your research to access your research by providing links to the papers. Remember that they’ll want to read the paper and not the metadata about the paper, so provide direct links to the paper.
  5. Don’t forget the ‘Google juice’: Links can enhance the experience for users. In addition links help users find resources when using search engines such as Google by enhancing the ‘Google juice’.
  6. Encourage feedback and discussion: Unlike repositories, social media services are often decided by support feedback and discussion. Exploit such feature.
  7. Develop your network: Seek to grow your network. Conferences which you attend which provide a Twitter hashtag provide an ideal opportunity to develop your Twitter network by following other researchers who have similar research interests to yourself.
  8. Understand your network: Make use of Twitter analytics tools such as SocialBro which can provide insights into your network.
  9. Know your limits:  Remember that you can’t expect to make use of every Social Web service which is available.
  10. Seek improvements: Reflect in your use of Social Web services and identify improvements you can make.
  11. Be ethical: Don’t use ‘black hat’ SEO techniques in which you tell lies in order to increase the numbers of visits to your research papers.
  12. Participate: Join in!
 I hope these tips are helpful. Further details is given in the slides I’ll be using for my first presentation during Open Access Week 2012. In addition I’ll be happy to respond to any questions I receive on this post during Open Access Week.

Finding Out More

My slides are available on Slideshare.

I welcome feedback on the ideas described in these slides and will be happy to respond to questions and comments.

Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]