Why does the publishing process for journal articles end once they are available online?

P&P’s unique model of post-publication support to maximise the impact of your article

P&P blog promotion blogSarah Brown, Elizabeth Koebele and Katie Lucas

As the author of a research article, you’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into crafting and recrafting the text, often through painstaking coordination with multiple authors, in an effort to make your article the very best it can be. After navigating the peer review process and honing your arguments, you’re delighted to receive the final acceptance decision from your journal of choice. You’re excited about the potential for your research to have a positive impact on the world and, of course, to develop your reputation as a leading thinker in the field. Except that one week, one month or even one year later, your notice that your paper has only had 10 downloads since publication – and you know that two of those were your co-author and your mother.

Sound familiar? You start to wonder what, if anything, the journal has done to publicise your article. You find that the journal has a blog, but their posts are erratic: 5 in one week and then nothing for 3 months. You also discover the journal has a Twitter account and start following it, but that too is in an embryonic state with sporadic posts to couple of hundred followers…  So, what exactly has the journal done to promote the article you devoted months (or years) of your life working on? The hard truth hits you. Nothing.

With most academic journals, this is the norm. As an author, you come to expect this. The journal is simply too busy producing online articles and accepting new papers to fill next year’s issues. There’s no spare capacity for promotion. Or perhaps whatever little promotion there was initially has unfortunately quickly dried up.

Some authors (usually established professors) say that good content will sell itself: If the quality of an article is high enough, scholars will find it, read it, and cite it. But in the modern world of scholarly publishing – where it’s estimated that 2.6 million new research articles are published each year – it’s simply not possible for beautifully-crafted and brilliantly-evidenced arguments to win over the force of search engine algorithms.

Fortunately, the process at Policy & Politics is different. Having blogged consistently every two weeks since 2014 and tweeted increasingly since 2013, our metrics clearly show that articles promoted through these avenues gain more downloads and citations than those that aren’t. That’s presumably the main reason why 95% of our authors blog for us. Over that time, our Twitter following has also grown steadily to boast the highest following of any public policy journal in the world – an effort we support through a dedicated “Digital Associate Editor” position on our Management Board. With funding bodies increasingly looking for metrics on impact, we know these efforts make a real difference – and our authors tell us so!

The secret to our (and your article’s) success is simply maintaining our promotional activities consistently over time. For us, they are as much a part of the publishing process as peer review or proof-reading. If you publish an article with Policy & Politics, you can expect your article to be part of our regular impact promotions including:

We also encourage you to get in contact with our team if you have ideas on how to promote your article. Have you thought of a good tweet? Has there been any current news or discussion related to the topic of your article? Our team is happy to discuss ideas, retweet any content, or schedule a tweet for you to our large following. Furthermore, we have a free useful toolkit for authors to consider what you can do to maximise the impact of your research. Meet our friendly and approachable promotions team, who are united by their belief in the importance of translating academic research to reach broader audiences and are happy to assist with any ideas:

Elizabeth Koebele is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and an established US policy scholar with an enviable reputation. This means that she has the expertise to connect our published articles with current debates in order to target their promotion on Twitter and showcase their intellectual contribution. As the journal’s Digital Associate Editor, she regularly posts extended Twitter threads that get great engagement from our followers.

Katie Lucas is our fabulous editorial assistant who tweets about every article we publish as well as administrating the blog and contributing to all of our other promotional campaigns and collections.

Sarah Brown is the tireless and incredibly organised journal manager. She manages the blog and curates and writes most of the promotional collections that encourage engagement with our articles over time.

We’ll look forward to hearing from you!

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also be interested to read:

Top five strategies for picking a journal

Announcing our expanded and increasingly globally representative editorial board

New editorial statement for the Policy & Politics journal

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