Publishing strategies: writing to get read

There are some simple but effective strategies that can be followed to maximise the chance of your work being read.  Our five suggestions will help you to make the most of the work you create.  You don’t need to use all of them to be effective.

Optimise your title and abstract 

Increase the discoverability of your publication by optimising your title, abstract and keywords for both search engines and human readers.  Search engines give most weight to publication titles.  Whilst catchy titles can attract attention when you promote your research via social media, it is better to avoid them in your publication title as searches on bibliographic databases will struggle to find the papers.  

Think about:

  • Which keywords and phrases researchers in your field use to search for literature.  Avoid vague or broad keywords or phrases which would return a large number of results.  If your research covers several disciplines make sure you use the vocabularies relevant for all the disciplines.
  • Repeating keywords and phrases several times.  Search engines give more weight to repeated phrases, but make sure it reads well.   

Use the correct institutional affiliation

Once your paper is published, its details will usually be pulled into one or more bibliographic databases.  Databases use algorithms to curate the bibliographic information, e.g. so that an author search retrieves all of the papers associated with an author.  You can assist this process by ensuring your name and institutional address/affiliation conventions are consistent across your publications.

  • It is vital to give your correct affiliation: Name, Research Group, Department, University of Birmingham address.
  • Use ORCID to distinguish yourself from researchers with a similar name.

Decide where to publish 

Maximise your readership by making your work openly accessible and publish in a title indexed by major citation services such as Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar. Use UlrichsWeb, available via Findit to get an idea of the content coverage of a specific title, or to search for titles which cover your discipline.  If you are working in the Arts and Humanities, the Canvas course on ‘Getting published in the arts’ gives advice about developing a publishing strategy.

Think about:

  • Searching the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)  to find peer reviewed Open Access books and a list of publishers.
  • Using UlrichsWeb, an authoritative source on periodicals, on FindIt@Bham.  Remember to login if you are accessing off campus.  An advanced search will allow you to search for academic titles by keyword and see information about characteristic content.  Use the limiter ‘Open Access’ under ‘Key Features’ for a list of OA journals.
  • Using the Book Citation Index on Web of Science Core Collection to search for books on a topic and use the ‘Analyze Results’ tool to see data on research areas, book series and publisher.  Available from FindIt@Bham.

Engage with Stakeholders

Deciding who your key audiences are will help you to select the channels for dissemination.  A communications plan will help you to strategically identify stakeholders, select channels and carry out a promotional campaign.  Are your key stakeholders the media, policy makers, practitioners or industry?  

Think about:

  • Contacting the University Press Office well in advance of your publication date. They may be able to help plan press releases or similar activity.
  • Presenting at conferences, seminars and workshops, particularly around the time of publication.
  • Using social media to reach a wide audience, there are many channels to choose from.
  • Including a link in your paper to underlying research data and materials as this will make your paper more attractive.  It will enable other researchers to discover and re-use your dataset, build on it and hopefully cite your work.
  • Using Kudos to help increase the reach and impact of your research.


You may be at a stage when collaborating with researchers in other institutions proves beneficial in moving forward in your research area.  You can use various means to identify potential collaborators in other institutions.

Think about:

  • Using Scopus to do a subject/discipline search and then viewing the results according to their affiliations.  The institution which has produced the greatest number of papers in that area will be listed first. You could also think about using Web of Science, filtering results to ‘hot’ or ‘highly cited’ papers and identifying potential collaborators.

Further help

Library Services offers face-to-face training:

We also offer online training via our Influential Researcher Canvas Course.

For one-to-one appointments and bespoke workshops, contact the Research Skills Team in Library Services.


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