Monday 7 November 2011

What happens when you tweet an Open Access Paper

So a few weeks ago, I tweeted and posted about this paper
Terras, M (2009) "Digital Curiosities: Resource Creation Via Amateur Digitisation". Literary and Linguistic Computing, 25 (4) 425 - 438. Available in PDF.
I thought it worth revisiting the results of this. Is it worth me digging out the full text, running the gamut with the UCL repository, and trying to spend the time putting my previous research online? Is Open Access a gamble that pays - and if so, in what way?

Prior to me blogging and tweeting about the paper, it got downloaded twice (not by me). The day I tweeted and blogged it, it immediately got 140 downloads. This was on a friday: on the saturday and sunday it got downloaded, but by fewer people - on monday it was retweeted and it got a further 140 or so downloads. I have no idea what happened on the 24th October - someone must have linked to it? Posted it on a blog? Then there were a further 80 downloads. Then the traditional long tail, then it all goes quiet.

All in all, its been downloaded 535 times since it went live, from all over the world: USA (163), UK (107), Germany (14), Australia (10), Canada (10), and the long tail of beyond: Belgium, France, Ireland Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Greece, Italy, South Africa, Mexico, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Europe, UAE, "unknown".

Worth it, then? Well there are a few things to say about this.
  • I have no idea how many times it is read, accessed, downloaded in the journal itself. So seeing this - 500 reads in a week! makes me think, wow: people are reading something I have written!
  • It must be all relative, surely. Is 500 full downloads good? Who can tell? All I can say is that it puts it into the top 10 - maybe top 5 - papers downloaded from the UCL repository last month (I wont know until someone updates the webpage with last months stats).
  • If I tell you that the most accessed item from our department ever in the UCL repository, which was put in there five years ago, has had 1000 full text downloads, then 500 downloads in a week aint too shabby. They didnt blog or tweet it, its just sitting there.
  • There is a close correlation to when I tweet the paper and downloads.
  • There can be a compulsion to start to pay attention to stats. Man, it gets addictive. But is this where we want to be headed: academia as X-factor? Hmmm.

Ergo, if you want people to read your papers, make them open access, and let the community know (via blogs, twitter, etc) where to get them. Not rocket science. But worth spending time doing. Just dont develop a stats habit.

I'll feature the next one from my back catalogue, shortly...

Update 08/11/11: As a result of posting this, and this post getting retweeted far and wide (thanks all!) the paper got downloaded a further 120 times. See? See?

Update 08/11/11: The UCL stats page for downloads last month has now been updated: this was the 5th most downloaded paper in the UCL repository in October 2011. Yeah, I'm up there with fat tax, seaworthiness, preventative nutrition, and the peri-urban(?) interface. I'm not sure how many papers in total there are in the repository - I cant find that stat - but a search for "the" or "a" both brings back 224,575 papers, if that is anything to go by.

Update 10/11/11: The Digital Curation Manager at UCL, Martin Moyle, has been in touch to confirm that 6486 of the 224, 575 papers in the repository have downloadable full text attached. And told me where I can generate this stat. Whoops! (Thanks Martin).

Update 10/11/11: After this post, there is the predictable long tail happening with stats. Another 60 downloads on the 8th, 10 on the 9th. Its all quite predictable - yet nice that the paper is wending its way to interested parties!

Update 25/11/11: This post was mentioned in the Times Higher last week, and the paper has now been downladed 805 times in total.


Hugh said...

Thanks so much for this. Its just the sort of information I need to point my colleagues to justify our continued and hopefully growing use of social media.

Melissa said...

you are welcome!

Helena said...

It would be really interesting to see how many citations it gets (in a year). More than usual? Downloads are good, citations are better.

Karl said...

Melissa - as an interation of your strategy, we've found it useful to get our own accounts.

The advantage of this link shortener (and I guess others) is that they have pretty good data on how many people, where etc click on your link - ie not just download the paper. If you use tweetdeck (v0.38 or below) you can integrate so all your tweets use your own link shortener.

Finally, is good for seeing how much you get retweeted!

Hope this helps
Karl Wilding
Head of Policy & Research

Anonymous said...

You are doing what I have been trying to get researchers in Adelaide to do for years now. You are my new hero! (Found this post via a tweet about a YouTube Using social media to disseminate research outputs -- Melissa Terras - YouTube" ")

Well done & thanks for sharing
Fang - Mike Seyfang