by Jamie Baker
Most law schools are players in the zero-sum game of the US News ranking system. The overall score in this system is influenced in large part—nearly 40%—by quality assessment from peer academics, lawyers, and judges. One of the ways to help this score is by upping the reputation of the school through the promotion of faculty scholarship.
The librarian workflow can promote faculty scholarship in a variety of ways. One option is to track faculty scholarship alerts. A librarian can set up alerts in the major legal databases and various search engines to track faculty publications. Then, for example, when an alert occurs for a new article, the librarian can capture the PDF of the article and upload it to SSRN and to the institutional repository. One of the best ways to capture the PDF is to ask the individual faculty member for the PDF offprint that is usually sent by the publishing journal.
A very important part of uploading the article to SSRN and the institutional repository is to make sure that each article has an abstract that is search-engine optimized. SSRN does not perform full-text searching; it only searches fields such as title, abstract, and keywords, so a well-optimized abstract is essential for discoverability. A post by Wiley seconds this and offers great examples of a well-optimized abstract versus a poorly-optimized abstract. Optimizing abstracts for search engines will greatly increase an article’s chance of being viewed and linked in another work, which will help to increase the article’s ranking in Google search results.
Another trick is to foster more links to faculty articles. As an article from bepress points out, “[g]etting more links to your repository from reputable sites is probably your most powerful SEO tool. Search engines count the number of websites that link to yours, placing more value on links deemed to be from very reputable or popular sites.” bepress, Search Engine Optimization: How to Attract More Visitors to Your Repository, Digital Commons Reference Material and User Guides, Paper 35 (July 2012). This not only works for linking to the institutional repository but also to the individual article on SSRN. To this end, after an article has been uploaded to SSRN and the institutional repository, there are many ways that a librarian can promote the scholarship to “get more links.”
What can your campaign to encourage links include? Here are some ideas from bepress:
- “Link to the repository from your institution’s home page, the library’s website, and other relevant pages. For example, department web pages should link to any corresponding publications in the repository.
- Add RSS feeds from your repository to the library or a departmental website.
- Encourage faculty to link to their articles from personal websites, blogs, related societies’ web pages, and even social media sites like Facebook.
- Link to repository content from related Wikipedia pages, as appropriate. Use the “edit” links on the Wikipedia page to suggest your repository content as a reference or further reading. Use the Wikipedia citation templates to enter an article as a citation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citation_templates.
- Web Directories: Web directories are human-edited, categorical listings of websites. Search engines consider a listing here as a positive rating factor. Consider submitting your repository to Open Directory Project (DMOZ), journals to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), and scientific content to SCIRUS. Submit to other relevant directories as you discover them.”
bepress, Search Engine Optimization: How to Attract More Visitors to Your Repository Digital Commons Reference Material and User Guides, Paper 35 (July 2012).
Librarians are in the best position to create a systematic workflow to promote and maximize faculty scholarship and contribute to positive quality-assessment rankings. I am developing this workflow at my institution, and I would love to hear what others are doing to promote faculty scholarship.