Update on: ‘Article titles in the era of the internet’

Exponential growth in read counts continues.

Reads in ResearchGate for my review of a book, published in the UV4Plants Bulletin.

As ResearchGate seems to assign subjects to papers based on the subjects in the author’s profile, rather than the paper itself, all sorts of astonishing achievements are being reported for this very modest one-page-long book review… and for myself… Continue reading “Update on: ‘Article titles in the era of the internet’”

Article titles in the era of the internet

A currently ongoing surprising event affecting what I considered one of my least important articles (https://doi.org/10.19232/uv4pb.2016.1.92), has made me rethink how search engines and the internet affect the impact of publications.

Among web site developers “SEO” is considered a very important factor in being successful in “drawing traffic or page reads” to a site. SEO means search-engine optimisation. For web pages, it involves much more than subjectively choosing suitable words for titles. In a way it is like reverse engineering how research engines like Google work, so as to write web pages in a way such that they will appear near the top of searches as frequently as possible. There exist different types of tools and software to help in the task of achieving good “SEO” and even companies that offer for a payment SEO for websites. My thoughts are: do we need similar tools for SEO of research papers? Needed or not, a more important question is how much do the properties of the algorithms  used by search engines affect the impact of the articles we write? I do not know the answers, but I think these are important questions.

What is the incident? To me it looks like a snowball effect, helped by accidental good SEO. I wrote a short review of a book in the UV4Plants Bulletin (http://bulletin.uv4plants.org) and as it is allowed, made it available through ResearchGate. It is being read and being followed and recommended… but much more than what would seem to me to be reasonable, to the point that it has already been on two weeks according to ResearchGate the most read article from a Finnish author! and more than once the most read forestry article worldwide (although neither the Bulletin, nor the reviewed book, have anything to do with forestry).

An easy recipe for writing a scientific paper

How to Write and Illustrate a Scientific Paper

By Björn Gustavii

Cambridge University Press

First edition in 2002

Second edition in 2008

Honestly this is the only writing guide book until now that can make me miss the bus stop I should jump off at. Poor Matt recommended and lent it to me, but because I read it a lot on the way home, it is already not that new as he gave it to me. I still hold the book and hope somebody else can ask for this book from Matt after reading this post. Then I can deny it is my fault.
Continue reading “An easy recipe for writing a scientific paper”

Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by JM Williams

Years ago, when I read it for the first time, I found this book extremely useful in improving my writing style, and in diagnosing problems in my own and other people’s drafts. I plan to read it again.

The approach is quite different to other writing style books. There are few hard and fast rules, it is mainly centred on how to make your ideas clear and write text that is easy to read. It is full of  examples and good explanations of what works and what doesn’t.

There are two versions of the book: (links to amazon.co.uk)

Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by JM Williams (also available in Helka)

Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams, and Gregory G. Colomb

I read the first one, it is older and cheaper and does not include exercises. The second, newer version includes exercises and is meant to be used as a textbook.

This is a good book to read even if you write well. It will help you understand why your texts are clear and good, and surely it will make revising your drafts easier. It will also help you when you have to comment on other people’s drafts. If you need to improve your own writing and you want to understand the logic behind guidelines rather than just follow rules, reading this book is a must.