Improving discoverability

Improving the discoverability of your published material

It is estimated that there are 100,000 scholarly journals provided by more than 5,000 publishers worldwide. Readers are no longer found quietly browsing through journal issues in libraries but are slaving over hot keyboards searching the World Wide Web. So what are the simple rules to enable discovery of your article both by the public and the search savvy user?

1.       Title

Short clear titles (between 50 and 140 characters), with a clear statement of the new finding, will help to attract readers. The title should tell the reader what the paper is about. Keep it simple and try not to be too clever and avoid jokes, puns or poetry. Remember a search engine may only show the front portion of your title so make sure your top keywords are in that portion.

2.       Keywords

Keywords that match common terms within your discipline also help. The most important ones should be in the title, the abstract and scattered liberally throughout the manuscript. Search engines use these keywords to discover what the paper is about and where it should rank in searches. Keywords should capture the most important themes and ideas in the material. Try and find the right level of keyword, too broad will be not very useful and too narrow will not help others to find the paper.  Do not use obscure keywords and use the common or lay usage of a keyword where possible. Remember a keyword does not just mean one word but can be a short phrase or a mix of words that people will use. Generally these are no longer than three or four words. Think top down and bottom up. Top down are words that people might use and bottom up are the keywords that are in the paper. It is always a good idea to test that these are working and that you can find your material easily.

3.       Abstract

Remember most readers will decide whether to read the article  on foot of the abstract. Therefore use your most important keyword three to four times in the abstract. The second and third most important keywords should be included at least once.  Natural repetition (within reason) is the key to an optimised abstract. Search engines will try to pick out repeated phrases (among other things) to determine what searches the article will turn up in and how high up it comes in those searches.  But do not over use this as it will turn off readers and sophisticated search engines like Google will spot it and demote you down in the rankings.

4.       Open Access

Use the open access route to provide supplementary publishing by lodging the material in the institutional repository as soon as possible after acceptance  into the journal.

5.       Formats

Repackage content into a new format so for example a book becomes an ebook or blog about the work and how it was developed.

6.       Social Media

Share on social media, and in institutional or subject based repositories.

7.       Video Summaries

Copy Nature Publishing Group and provide video summaries.  Three or four minutes of video describing the project in layman's language can engage a wider audience.

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