By Rebecca Wray, Group Marketing Manager, SAGE Publishing
SAGE Publishing recently announced an extended partnership with Kudos, to include all content from SAGE’s 900+ journals. SAGE began a pilot program with Kudos in 2015 and following the success has extended the agreement to two years, enabling all SAGE journal authors to benefit from these extended support services for article visibility and engagement.
So how can you as a SAGE author make the most of this new service? Kudos co-founders Charlie Rapple, David Sommer, Melinda Kenneway, along with Ann Lawson, Head of Business Development are on hand to explain the key features.
Can you summarize the ways in which Kudos works to increase the reach and impact of publications?
Charlie: Kudos does two things. Firstly, it provides researchers with a platform to explain their work in plain language (there are some nice examples here, here and here) – this can increase the likelihood of it being found (because even fellow specialists often use non-academic language when searching) and also helps non-specialists (whether people in other fields, or outside academia all together) to understand and therefore to “apply” the work more broadly.
Secondly, Kudos provides authors with trackable links to use when sharing their research – and maps the resulting clicks against publication metrics such as views, downloads, citations and Altmetrics. By tracking and measuring efforts when sharing work, Kudos helps researchers learn where their readers are coming from, for example via email, academic networks or social media-– this means that authors can increase the effect of their communications around their work, and ensure they are maximizing readership (a crucial component of impact!)
How important is the use of social media in driving article downloads and citations?
Melinda: In discussions I’ve had with researchers, there are generally three clear views around the use of social media for outreach. The most common view is: “I know I should be using these tools, but I’m not sure how.” Others remain to be persuaded that social media can help build readership for their work (or that they should have a role in this). A minority (but fast growing) group of researchers are very confident with this medium and see results in views and downloads of their articles.
Kudos makes this relationship between action and impact easy to see on the author dashboard – some of the authors using social media through Kudos see hundreds of additional views of their work as a result. Assessing the impact on citations is more difficult, as this is a longer term measure. But we’re collecting this data and over time will be able to correlate actions with article views and downloads and then subsequent citations. Imagine as a researcher knowing which social media tools or professional networking sites are most effective in generating, say, media coverage for your work, or which extend readership, or which have the strongest link to maximizing citations … this is the guidance we are developing, both for social media, and for other ways of communicating, such as email.
How can social media be used effectively by authors to increase the visibility of their work?
Melinda: One of our highest-performing authors on Kudos told us that she was relatively new to social media. She started with a Twitter account and built a good network fairly quickly – connecting initially to people she knew and then following people whose posts got her attention. Within a short period of time she was finding that sharing links to her publications on Twitter through Kudos was generating hundreds of views of her work. From there she began to expand her social media presence – key platforms are Facebook and LinkedIn, which Kudos also integrates with. Links can also be shared and tracked from Kudos within networking sites like ResearchGate and Academia.edu – helping researchers identify which sites are most effective in helping them build readership and citations for their work.
Our observations are that the researchers that get the best results from social media are good at writing short posts that highlight something really interesting and novel about their work – a catchy headline that draws people in. Another important factor is connecting with people who themselves are well connected. An influential blogger reposting a link to your work can have a dramatic impact on your article metrics.
At the end of the day, it’s not so different to more traditional academic outreach activities like attending conferences and departmental meetings. Building a good network is important, as is being willing and able to talk about and share your passion for your work. Social media simply opens the door on researchers being able to extend these discussions to a much bigger and broader audience.
One of the tools that Kudos provides to increase visibility and impact is the facility for authors to add a plain language explanation of their article. Do you have any advice to offer authors about how they should approach this?
Charlie: The main thing is to keep non-specialist readers in your mind. I call it “the Queen test” – imagine you’re accepting an honour or award, and the person bestowing it asks “what do you do?” How would you summarize your work for them in the one minute you will have? What language would you use, or avoid, in that context? You don’t need to get across all the details of your work – that is the job of your abstract, and we’re not trying to replace that; we’re trying to add a layer on top to help people determine whether to “drill down” further into the research. So the key is to keep your explanations short – something that fellow specialists can skim and scan quickly, to help them navigate a broader range of literature – and to use non-specialist language, so that people outside the field can understand whether your work has relevance for them. Remember that part of the role of the plain language descriptions in Kudos is to increase the likelihood of people finding your work via search engines, so think about the language people will be using when they search – and try not to just replicate your abstract, as Kudos is an opportunity to double the ‘discoverability” of your work by increasing the number of search terms for which it will be found.
How long should authors wait after implementing Kudos’ suggestions to begin accessing their metrics? What can authors expect to see?
David: One of the unique things about Kudos is that we map actions that authors take to
help communicate their work against the results of those actions – and we do this in real time. For example, an author who has written a plain language explanation of their work on Kudos and then shared a trackable link through social media can check their Author Dashboard the following day to see how many times the link was clicked, how many times readers clicked through to read the publication and what increase there has been in metrics such as Altmetrics. This immediate feedback on how effective actions have been is not something that many of our authors are used to having, and seeing the results encourages people to retweet or add resources or a perspective to help further boost the impact. The following graph shows an author that took 4 actions over a period of days and saw a significant boost in views of their work as a result:
Typically, authors are used to taking an action such as tweeting, but have no way of quantifying the effect of that action on their publication metrics. Equally, there are longer-term measures of impact such as citations, but there is little information available to authors to help them understand what actions have helped result in increases is impact. Kudos helps authors determine where best to direct their efforts based on what is most effective.
How should these metrics be used to gauge the success of an author’s work?
Ann: Until now, authors have had to be quite knowledgeable, and look in a range of different places, to understand the effectiveness of their attempts at sharing news of their research work and resulting publications. With Kudos they can see at a glance the impact of their shares in terms of various metrics including Altmetric score, page views, click-throughs, citation data and more. Each of these metrics measures a different kind of success: Altmetric scores help you understand the attention being paid to your work across a range of traditional and social media, and other online sources from government policy to Wikipedia. Click-throughs and page views on Kudos help you understand how many people have followed the links you have shared. Looking at such metrics together is important because (for example) you can gauge your own role in the performance of your work – do your publications with high Altmetric scores also have high numbers of click throughs and page views? That suggests your own outreach efforts have helped to create the attention around the work. Conversely, if a work has a high Altmetric score but you were not active, or your actions did not result in high click-throughs and page views, then perhaps it was effort by your institution or publisher that made the difference in that case. So metrics should be used not only to gauge the success of your work, but also to gauge the success of your efforts so that you know how best to use the limited time you have for outreach. This is where Kudos, uniquely able to map communication efforts to publication metrics, can really help you become a more efficient and effective communicator for your work!
Watch out for next week’s post by Rebecca Wray: How to grow the impact of your paper: A step by step guide to using Kudos