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Feb 13 / scholarscooperative

The Prestige of Scholarly Websites

In our post last week, Institutional Repository Benchmarks, we mentioned the idea that archiving of research and scholarly output is becoming more normative.  But, according to survey data included in the post, only a small percentage of journal articles are archived in institutional repositories.  So, where are the rest of these articles being archived? We’ve talked about the popularity of sites like ResearchGate and Academia.edu, and considered some issues related to them.  Perhaps part of the answer to the question lies in considering how these sites have become so popular.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Advertising is very important.  It’s also true that when you have some type of corporate sponsorship, it makes advertising (and many other things) that much easier.
  • The use of social media is becoming more prominent in the scholarly realm. People are connecting and reading each other’s work via a number of social media tools.
  • Word-of-mouth; simply put: scholars talk.

All of these considerations work together in some way. For example, advertising for websites like ResearchGate very often works via word-of-mouth, and from significant investments from companies. And let’s not forget social media, which can be considered one of the fastest ways to communicate, promote, and reach a wider audience. These sites are an amalgamation of social media tools, and are capable of “speaking for themselves”; i.e. they become a part of the internet subculture.

It seems as if something has shifted, and sites like ResearchGate have developed a new level of prestige, making them huge competitors for institutional repositories.  But, in what form does the prestige exist? It doesn’t seem to stem from notions of scholarship; rather, it seems to branch from ideas related to promotion, collaboration, and wider readership.  But, as we know from our previous posts, these sites aren’t always quite as great as they’d like us to believe.

Want to know how to submit your work to DC@WSU? Visit us. Check out the Digital Commons Network where you can access free, full-text, scholarly articles from hundreds of institutions of higher education worldwide (including WSU).  While you’re there, be sure to follow your favorite author(s)!

And if there’s something you think institutional repositories are lacking, let’s talk about it…