Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to Get Cited a Lot

Ultimately for an academic researcher the goal is to get your research cited and used by other people whether in their pure science work or in policy applications. Getting published is nice, but just the first step in an academic career. Also, I believe that as people get more and more familiar with the online citation databases citations will be used more and more to evaluate researchers. So, if you are not yet world famous in your field how do you get people to cite your work among all the other thousands of publications appearing continuously in the academic literature. Here are a couple of methods I have used where I convert what some people (of the Ferriss type) would think were irrelevant distractions into productive activities.

A. Review papers for academic journals so that they can decide whether to publish them. This might seem like a real waste of time. Usually, you aren't paid for it. Maybe you can use it to curry favor with journal editors. Certainly, rejecting review requests from journals you want to publish in is not a good idea unless you have a good excuse - i.e. the paper is not in your area of expertise. On the other hand, I don't accept all requests as I get too many. This isn't a problem for a beginning researcher :) I preferentially accept requests from more prestigious journals and otherwise focus on papers which are:

1. Likely to be published and have not referred to my research when relevant. In my review I state that the authors ought to cite my work.

2. Papers that shouldn't be published but where there is a danger other reviewers for that journal might not see the flaw. Particularly if they cite me but misunderstand or misuse my research.

Occasionally there are papers that should be published that cites my work but misinterprets it. I can put a comment in my review to get a better interpretation in the final paper.

B. I get sent to my Google Reader regular listings of new "working papers" in my field. Working papers are papers that have not yet been published in a journal. But probably they will be published in revised form. This is useful for keeping up with new ideas in the field (some people tell me that this subscription is an irrelevant distraction of course). If a paper does not cite my work but should cite it, I sometimes send the authors an e-mail praising their work and stating that my paper on a related topic may be useful. I attach the paper in question. If I see published papers of this sort I also sometimes send an e-mail as maybe they can cite my paper in their next paper.

Book authors go on tours to promote their work. Why shouldn't academic authors also market their publications? And, yes, this website and blog are also marketing tools.

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