Working from home you may well have become more aware of publisher paywalls. In many cases they will be a minor inconvenience while you login to your University account, yet they restrict access to research for anyone without (expensive) subscription access. Paywalls are also barriers to text and data mining technologies that might yield scientific or interdisciplinary insight from analysing a research corpus at speed and scale.

This is why Leeds University Library supports open access and open data to increase the impact of research and to contribute to society. Never has this goal been more important than during the current global health crisis as shown by many publishers opening their research on COVID-19 and various initiatives around open data related to the pandemic.

See our own collection of COVID-19 resources made available by publishers.

Communicating your research openly

The benefits of open research go well beyond virology and epidemiology of course. Whatever your academic discipline there are communities out there, researchers and citizens, who would benefit from, or simply be interested in, your work.

So how can you practice #openresearch and make it easy to find?

Once your research is available in the public domain, there are many tools and techniques for you to disseminate it effectively. To help your research go viral so to speak! 

Twitter

Twitter is a great way to connect with and develop communities. Users can share links to their work and discuss with their academic peers and with the public. It has been widely adopted by the research community and accounts for the vast majority of social media activity recorded by altmetrics* (Taylor, Scott, 2020).

* the image at the top of this post is the altmetric details page for this recent paper on SARS-CoV2

Existing ‘hashtags’ are a particularly effective way of targetting a specific community of interest or developing your own community, whether general – #AcademicTwitter, #scicomm, or specific, say #tribology, #DigitalHumanities or #bioinformatics. Hashtags also develop organically in response to a particular need such as #Covid19research or #wfh (working from home)

Plain language

Inevitably many specialists are prone to use specialist language, or jargon, and it’s a good idea to publish a plain language summary to make your research more accessible for a lay audience. You can use a blog platform like WordPress or dedicated tools like Kudos and ScienceOpen:

  • Kudos enables you to create a plain language summary of your publications and to disseminate a traceable link via social networks, web pages or email. You can also add links to datasets or other related material. It is free for researchers to use
  • ScienceOpen is a sophisticated professional networking platform that also enables authors to add non-specialist summaries of their work. It comprises discovery functions, post-publication peer review, recommendation, social sharing, and collection-building features.

To actually edit your prose and help you write in plain language try Hemingway Editor or Simple Writer while Scholarcy uses AI to produce a digestible summary that can be published as a Twitter thread:

  • Hemingway Editor is very straightforward to use, just input your text and Hemingway Editor will highlight in yellow and red where your writing is too dense. Try removing unnecessary words or split a sentence in two. “It’s like a spellchecker, but for style.”
  • Simple writer is a fun little app that restricts you to the 1000 most common words in English, which are obviously unlikely to include your favourite jargon!
  • Scholarcy uses AI to automatically highlight important phrases and contributions made by a paper, to produce an accessible description of a paper’s findings

Wikimedia

Wikipedia, “the free enyclopedia that anyone can edit”, has an ambivalent reputation in academia but there can be little doubt that it is a hugely important information resource. Academic experts can contribute their knowledge to this ‘global commons’ which data from Crossref shows is a major source of traffic to formal scholarly literature. It is especially important that cited research is available open access, to ensure global citizens can access it. Openly licensed research outputs also make it easier to add reputable information, either directly to Wikipedia or via related sites like Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata.

Over to you

These are just a few of the tools and techniques that you can utilise to proactively communicate your research while working from home. There are literally hundreds more.

So why not take some time to publish a plain language summary of your research on kudos, improve a Wikipedia article related to your academic discipline or take to Twitter to tell us your own tips and tricks – #ResearchCommsWFH