Making the Most of Your Research Promotion Team

Promotion of research and related publications is now a shared enterprise among authors, publishers, libraries and universities, writes Christine Tulley, yet many authors are unaware of how to play an active role.

June 28, 2019
 
 
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I recently gave a talk at the Researcher to Reader Conference about developments in the scholarly publishing lifecycle. Although I talked about several changes, including the move to open-access research and the consolidation of many university presses, the audience was most interested in learning about promotion of research as a shared enterprise among authors, publishers, libraries and universities.

I wasn't surprised. Promotion of research and related publications is now a team effort. Yet many authors are unaware they must take increasingly active roles.

Consider how much the promotional landscape has changed. When I published a book in 2008, I filled out a marketing questionnaire, provided some email contacts for potentially interested readers and suggested a list of journals to send the book to for review. After that, I was essentially finished with promotion. I did give some invited talks about the research, but the rest of the promotion was largely up to the press.

Ten years later, in 2018, when I published a second book, I still filled out a standard marketing questionnaire. But since submitting the final manuscript, my Utah State University Press editor Rachael Levay, assistant director Laura Furney, and sales and marketing manager Beth Svinarich have repeatedly worked with me on research promotion. Whenever I give a speech or presentation, for example, Rachael tweets out photos I take for her, Beth posts links to social media on the book sales page, and Laura works to get copies to these locations for sale. Although the book is now in print, our relationship to promote the research is collaborative and ongoing.

The face-to-face dissemination opportunities at the exhibit hall during professional conferences are also central to research promotion. At last year's Conference for College Composition and Communication, I took photos for tweeting at the press booth, holding my book next to another Utah State University Press author J. Michael Rifenburg with his book. And at this year's conference, Utah State University Press staff members introduced me to attendees buying my book during for an informal, on-the-spot conversation. Colleagues publishing with other university presses report similarly active and continuing promotion relationships.

Authors are also using preprint servicers to disseminate unpublished research. According to American Journal Experts, "A preprint is a full draft of a research paper that is shared publicly before it has been peer reviewed." Previously called working papers, scientists increasingly turn to robust preprint archives as a means of getting peer feedback and early promotion of research before an official submission in a variety of fields, including law (LawRxiv ), chemistry (ChemRxiv), biology (bioRxiv), economics and statistics (arXiv), and others.

The early release and promotion trend is spreading to the humanities and social sciences. In 2018, SAGE launched Advance, a preprint archive partnership with FigShare for social science research. Submitters can post research and simultaneously submit to journals at SAGE, where the website notes, "all accepted preprints will be assigned a DOI (Digital Object Identifier), ensuring each preprint can be linked to its final published version in the future, helping to increase a final paper's discoverability." Research Centers, such as the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, host spaces such as [email protected]@, where classicists can publish preprint research for feedback and circulation. Submitting research to a preprint archive allows research to circulate early and is attractive for scholars who worry they may be scooped by the time an article goes to print months or years later.

Publisher collaborations extend beyond those with university presses. For example, large publishing outlets like SAGE and Elsevier have detailed guidelines for their published authors for promotion of research where authors also take an active role. SAGE offers separate guidelines for authors who use Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media such as blogging to enhance discoverability. All of these guidelines are designed for authors to attract publicity, including reviews and citations. Wiley offers authors a full promotional toolkit that includes not only social media sharing techniques but also tutorials on how to present research effectively at conferences. Elsevier gives guidelines on how to share published research responsibility, along with a tutorial for authors to learn how to measure an article's impact using Mendeley Stats.

More locally, an academic's university might help with promotion support. In 2014, Bryan Sinclair noted in "The University Library as Incubator for Digital Scholarship" that libraries and publishers often overlap in the types of services they offer to academics. He observed that libraries are the natural spaces for support and promotion of research. A host of digital scholarship centers at universities such as Case Western Reserve University, University of Illinois, and University of North Carolina at Charlotte all offer a range of digitization, sharing and promotion services. Such services all help to promote an academic's research through assisting with integrating published research with blogs and wikis and digitizing print back issues for circulation.

Beyond offering digital scholarship tools specifically, libraries continue to offer face-to-face workshops to assist academic authors, such as those offered at Binghamton University Library, that focus on teaching authors how to use promotional platforms. Georgetown University Library reinforces public relations guidance from publishers by offering authors guidelines for asking bookstores to carry their published titles.

Universities are also stepping up as promotional partners by developing both physical centers and online spaces for research dissemination. This is a significant shift from when a faculty's research might be publicized in an alumni magazine or a professor might be cited as an expert in the local paper. Within its Digital Scholarship unit, Columbia University maintains a Scholarly Communication division dedicated to the development and promotion of research through both digital and traditional venues. The University of Denver recently linked several database systems to promote faculty research in open-access publications. These comprehensive systems help faculty members highlight their research and attract recognition for their campuses.

While some academics tout Research Gate or Academia.edu as logical spaces to promote research, I've found that scholars can attract a wider readership from a multi-pronged approach. As the range of dissemination networks continues to increase, academic authors should identify their research promotion team and take full advantage of it.

Bio

Christine Tulley is a professor of English, director of the Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing Program, and academic career development coordinator at the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Findlay. She is the author of How Writing Faculty Write (Utah State University Press, 2018).

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