Jean O’Reilly answers some questions to help demystify ‘publicity in academic publishing’. Jean is Editorial Manager for Addiction journal and her role includes commissioning book reviews, editing abstracts, and writing press releases.

1. Can authors expect journals or publishers to offer guidance about ‘how to get publicity’ or to help publicise their papers?

Yes. Authors can check the journal’s website or the publisher’s website and look for things like ‘press office’, ‘author services’, ‘author centre’, etc.

2. At what point in the publishing process can authors talk publicly about their papers? Are there industry ‘rules’?

Wiley, which publishes Addiction, provides guidelines for authors about how you can share your article at each stage of publication. Their quick reference chart points out when and where you can share the following:

  • the submitted version of a paper (this has not been peer-reviewed, or formatted/edited by the journal/publisher)
  • the accepted version (this includes amendments from the peer review process)
  • the final version of record (this is the final version that is published in the journal)

3. How does Addiction journal decide which papers are publicised via a press release?

Our editors are encouraged to let the Editorial Managers know if a paper they are overseeing looks news-worthy, and the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, who screen all papers at acceptance, also keep an eye out for news-worthy papers. I also see all the papers we accept before they go to the publisher and I keep an eye out for good press release possibilities. So there are plenty of folks looking for the next press release opportunity.

All suggestions from editors eventually make their way to me, and I make the final choice depending on how many press release are already in the pipeline, what topics we’ve covered in recent releases, how many people have flagged a particular paper, and whether the authors themselves want to do their own press release (in which case we generally don’t duplicate).

4. How are press releases prepared, who are they sent to, and how do press releases get used by the news media?

I write the first draft, which then goes to one of our editors (usually the Deputy Editor-in-Chief, but sometimes a Regional Editor) for a look to make sure the science reads right. The draft then goes to the authors to check for accuracy and tone down any overstatements. Once we’re all happy, I send the release to the press offices of the main authors’ institutions and funders – sometimes to get their feedback and sometimes just to keep them informed.

When the paper is ready for publication, I agree a schedule with the authors and I convey this to the authors’ institutions and funders. Usually, we send the release on a Monday with an embargo to Thursday, and the paper is published on Thursday.

We personally email the release to a small group of mainly UK journalists and we also post our releases on EurekAlert!, which is an online global science news service. We get most of our pickup from EurekAlert!.

5. What are some of the main ways for authors to increase the chances that their papers will be downloaded and cited?

Before your paper is accepted, make sure the final submission has a clear, simple title and an accurate abstract and that the conclusion to the abstract is a standalone citable statement that other researchers can ‘cut and paste’ into their own papers when they cite your paper. Take the time to choose the best keywords (there is lots of online help for this) and try to use them in the abstract.

As soon as your paper is accepted, ask the journal that’s publishing your article, your institution’s press office, and your funders if they will consider doing a press release (it helps to explain what you think is news-worthy about your paper). Also inform the journal that you’re considering a press release so that they’re aware of it and can help you with the scheduling. See if the journal publishing your article has a press officer/team or a social media officer with whom you can speak about promoting your paper.

Once your paper has been published, if you’re on Twitter/X, tweet about your paper and include hashtags to your institutions, funder, and publishing journal so they will see it and retweet. Do the same for any other social media platforms that you think will reach a useful audience.

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