You’ve just successfully posted your preprint. Congratulations! You’ve received a DOI (digital object identifier) and protected your research from getting scooped.
But now what? Should you just share it with a few colleagues? Should you promote it widely? Or, before you share it at all, should you wait until after your paper is peer reviewed - and hopefully published in a journal?
The answer ultimately depends on your level of comfort. But if you’re not widely promoting your preprint, you’re likely missing out on maximizing your citations and building impact in other ways that can advance your career.
Post a preprint
Just posting a preprint can have a citation-boosting effect for your research, especially if your preprint is eventually published in a second location, such as a peer-reviewed journal.
Bibliometrics researcher Nicholas Fraser at the Leibniz Information Centre for Economics in Germany discovered that research submitted to a preprint repository prior to publication in peer-reviewed journals received nearly 50% more citations on average than those papers without preprints. He and his research team found that this citation boost lasted for up to three years. They also found that preprints also boost Altmetric scores, attracting more mentions in tweets, blog posts and online periodicals on average than those published without a preprint.
Preprints are also easily visible and discoverable by virtue of being fully open access. Open accessibility is a key factor in boosting citations.
A Research Information Network study highlighted in Times Higher Education analyzed 700 published papers and found that open access articles were viewed twice as often as subscription-based articles.
This also translated to more citations. Open access articles tracked in the study received a median of 11 citations for OA articles versus seven citations for non open-access articles tracked in the study. That’s a 54% difference.
Are preprints really citable?
Yes, preprints are citable, even before peer review and publication. Just like published journal articles, most preprints automatically receive Digital Object Identifiers, or DOIs, after they are accepted for posting on preprint servers. This makes your preprint an official, permanent, and citable part of the global scholarly record.
Other benefits of preprinting
Preprints are becoming ubiquitous in the research world. Considered for publication by more than 85% of the world’s publishers. They also allow researchers control as to when their research gets published, provide more opportunities for feedback among the research community, and establish the primacy of a researcher’s work through DOIs.
Feature your preprint in research deliverables
Research deliverables are any form of communication that can be used to communicate your research. Think of them as “vehicles” that can help “deliver” your research to your target audiences. They include:
- Recorded videos
- Downloadable presentations
- Research project websites
- Blog posts
- White papers
These research deliverables can help drive interest, awareness, and impact for your work. They also drive traffic to your research.
Whatever deliverables you produce, just make sure to link them directly to your preprint. This helps build page views, citations, article downloads, and other forms of impact.
Add your preprint’s ‘research objects’ to data repositories
Do you have supporting data, code, figures, or other information associated with your preprint? If so, you can upload, package, and publish them as individual research objects. Research objects, when published in special data repositories, even get their own DOIs; and you can reference your associated preprint with each of these objects.
Research objects can boost citations by 25% on average. Why do research objects boost citations? Because you are putting individual elements of your research in a greater number of searchable resources, making your work even more discoverable. More discoverability can add up to more citations and other forms of impact.
Research objects can include various forms of information associated with your preprint, such as:
- Figures and tables
- Research datasets
- Videos and images
Major repositories for research objects include:
- Nature’s Protocol Exchange - An open repository for the deposition and sharing of protocols for scientific research.
- Figshare - An online open access repository where researchers can preserve and share their research outputs, including figures, datasets, images, and videos.
- Harvard Dataverse - An online repository where users can share, preserve, cite, explore, and analyze research data.
- Mendeley Data - a secure cloud-based repository where data can be stored, shared, accessed and cited.
- DRYAD - Open-source, community-led data curation, publishing, and preservation platform for publicly available (Creative Commons) research data
- OSF - a free and open source project management tool that includes a repository for figures, data, and other information.
- Vivli - An independent, non-profit global data-sharing and analytics platform whose focus is sharing “participant level data from completed clinical trials to serve the international research community.”
- Zenodo - Managed by the CERN Data Centre, this open science repository for High Energy Physics preserves “the largest scientific datasets in the world.”
Research objects promote more than your research. They promote open science, which not only adds transparency for your work but credibility for you and your institution.
Promote your preprint through social media
Social media is an excellent tool for communicating your research to colleagues, enthusiasts, the media, activists, and other audiences among the public at large.
Social media outlets used by academics
If you’re looking to build citations for your preprint, academic social media channels are extremely beneficial for you. They are a direct line to researchers - either within or connected to your field. These specialized platforms make it easy to join, connect, and stay up-to-date with research in the fields of your choice.
- Academia.edu - Currently the largest of the academic social networks, with more than 183 million registered users.
- ResearchGate - Boasts more than 20 million registered users and more than 135 million publication pages.
- Researcher - This app-based platform is followed by 2.3 million users, who can access more than 19,000 research sources, such as peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and live events.
- Mendeley - An Elsevier subsidiary with more than 6 million users, who can join public or private groups for networking purposes.
Traditional social media outlets
Researchers can use traditional social media outlets to share their preprints with a broader range of audiences that might take interest in your research. These can be industry professionals, interest groups, citizen scientists, friends, and the media. The following channels are more commonly used.
- LinkedIn - A networking platform for professionals (as well as academics) who might take interest in your work.
- Twitter - An excellent platform for sharing research and ideas - as well as connecting the community around a research topic of the day.
- Instagram - The perfect platform for plant pathologists, ecologists, and other researchers who have eye-catching photos or videos.
- Facebook - Facebook tends to be more of a ‘friends and family’ social media outlet. However, this platform is excellent for disseminating your research to large audiences. The key is to join the right interest groups, as anyone in those groups has the potential to see your posts.
Recently posted a preprint or published your research? Research Square, offers a variety of research promotion services to make an impact with the research community and beyond.