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How can I help increase the discoverability of my article?

Scholars can find your article in a variety of channels, including direct platform search, Google Scholar, library databases, and other discovery services. Accurate and enriched metadata is key to discovery on all these systems.

You, as the author, can start the process of defining key metadata elements in your manuscript. Your publisher will work with you to add appropriate metadata and distribute it widely across the scholarly communication ecosystem.

This article summarizes a few key data elements that you can provide to support discoverability of your article, plus a few data elements that your publisher will most likely define and disseminate for you.

Typically, scholars discover content by keyword searching. Although some discovery services make concerted efforts to define a controlled vocabulary (where there is a limited and organized set of predefined keywords), keyword searching usually searches title, abstract, and perhaps a section specifically designed for keywords (which may be uncontrolled). You can help keyword searching by writing a title with words that are good “handles” for scholars who might want to know more about your research. You can also include an abstract that succinctly summarizes your research. The abstract is a critical field for discoverability in discovery services that do not house the full text but rather link out to the full text on another platform.

Another method of discovery is by author. Although unique names can be good search handles, most author names are ambiguous, especially in discovery services that abbreviate first names. Author affiliation is key metadata that you and your publisher can include to promote discovery of your content (rather than another work by someone with a similar name). This is important for discoverability and can also be key for defining author metrics. The best way to do this is to get an ORCID, a permanent ID that provides a canonical record of a scholar. This record is created and maintained by the author. This element will propagate along with your article and always refer to you, regardless of name or affiliation changes. In addition, you can directly curate your scholarly output along with your ORCID record. By updating your name, affiliation, and scholarly output in this one place, you will be updating this information in a plethora of databases.

If your article is being published open access (OA) with a Creative Commons license, appropriate license information is also key for discoverability. OA search engines need to be able see this information so that they can ingest and display records that are OA according to their standards.

Your publisher will most likely deposit a digital object identifier (DOI) for your scholarly work. Several discovery databases will only ingest data from records deposited in Crossref along with the DOI. A DOI provides many discoverability advantages.

Your publisher can also help define author metadata elements such as language or document type. When you talk with your publisher, ask them how you can work together to promote discoverability.

—Johns Hopkins University Press, January 2024