Raising awareness of open access publications

I was asked the other day about ways to make people aware of open access journal publications, and this posting echoes much of my response.

Thanks again for taking the time this morning to discuss some of the ways open-access journals are using social media and other technology to distribute content and engage readers. I am on the board of [name deleted] recently transitioned to an open access format, and we are looking to maximize the capabilities of this new, free, and on-line format. To that end, any additional insights you might be able to share about effective social media applications for open-access sources, or other exemplary electronic journals you may be able to recommend, would be most helpful.

As you know, I have not been ignoring you as much as I have been out of town. Thank you for your patience.

I am only able to share my personal experiences here, and they are not intended to be standards of best practices. Yet, here are some ideas:

  • Exploit RSS – RSS is an XML technology used to syndicate content. It is the foundation of blogs. Do what you can to make sure your journal content is syndicated via RSS. This way people can “subscribe” to your journal and they will get alerts when new content becomes available.
  • Create a mailing list – On your journal’s site, allow people to submit their email addresses. Keep these email addresses in a list (database) and when new issues of your journal are created, send messages to the people in the list. Do not use the list for any other purpose.
  • Advertise – Identify mailing lists where discussions take place surrounding the topic of your journal. When your journal creates new issues, send a table of contents sort of message to the mailing lists.
  • Blog about your journal – If you or any of your colleagues who edit the journal blog, then write up things you find interesting in your journal in your blog. As long as your write up are sincere, people will not see this sort of things as self-promotion.
  • Use Facebook & Twitter – Do you and your editorial colleagues use Facebook or Twitter? Maybe your journal can have a Facebook page and/or a Twitter account. In either case, post messages about your journal on social networks.
  • Exploit SEO – SEO is code for “search engine optimization” which itself is code for “make it easy for Google to crawl your site”. If Google can easily crawl your site, then your content will more likely appear in Google search results, and therefore you will get more exposure.
  • Be regular – Publishing serial publications (blogs, journal articles, etc.) is difficult, but I believe your readers will build up trust for you if you make content available on a consistent basis. Otherwise, I think your publication will loose credibility.
  • Make your content searchable – When people come to your website, make sure people can easily search & browse the backfires. People will say, “I remember seeing an article on that topic at… I wonder if I can find it again?” Put another way, make sure your website is “usable”.
  • Allow for comments – While the articles you publish go through some sort of review, make it possible for the readership to comment as well. We no longer live in isolation, nor are we governed by the centralized elite. It is increasingly about the wisdom of the crowd.

The right software makes many of the tasks I outlined easier. I suggest you take a look at Open Journal Systems.

Good luck, and I commend you for going the open access route.