What is the best method of putting academic papers on the internet?
September 9, 2009 6:29 AM   Subscribe

What is the best method of putting academic papers on the internet?

I am a graduate student who is thinking of placing academic work (thesis, unpublished papers, etc.) on the internet. Is there a standard method or protocol for placing them online? Should I really convert all of them into PDF format?

Any recommendations from those who have been there before would be appreciated.
posted by huskerdont to Education (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1. Yes, convert them to PDF. I wouldn't even consider another format. PDF is ubiquitous, free to read on any platform, and cannot be changed by the average user. And make sure that the papers have your full contact information on them.

2. I wouldn't make available any unpublished work (excepting theses) unless it's been accepted for publication or, at very least, in review.
posted by The Michael The at 6:35 AM on September 9, 2009

Convert to PDF, post links in your online CV.

Be careful with unpublished work unless it is technical in nature. You don't want to put half-finished stuff out there that can come back to haunt you, but do feel free to post lab protocols, analysis techniques, designs, etc.
posted by fake at 6:53 AM on September 9, 2009

Conference papers and presentations in .pdf are also much appreciated. Make sure you spell out where and when it was used though since that will help a reader place it contextually.
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:00 AM on September 9, 2009

Put three things online. A publication quality PDF for printing. An HTML version, for easy online reading and search engines. And a suggested citation in text or BibTeX form, to make life really easy for someone who wants to cite your paper.
posted by Nelson at 7:14 AM on September 9, 2009

unless it's been accepted for publication or, at very least, in review.

I disagree with this. If you have a paper under review or forthcoming (or for that matter, published in a journal) you could disqualify it from publication by posting it publicly elsewhere, or violate your author agreement if you've already signed one.

OP, you need to tell us what you're talking about publishing, and in what field. A simple website with PDFs of the papers you want (and have the right) to make available does it for most people.

Almost anything formally published these days is available in electronic form, the format depending on the publication. A page full of links to your published work would also be fine. Most academic users are in institutions which subscribe to most electronic publications, on balance.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:26 AM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

This really depends on the field. I'm a grad student in math. Most of the time when I need a recent (say, 2000 or later) paper, I can go to the author's web site and it's there. It's my understanding that some of the journals frown upon this, but realize it's not worth fighting. But if you're in a field where publishers stand to make money off of your papers (biomedical research comes to mind), then there they actually care more about copyright law. Preprints of papers (usually in the form submitted to a journal) are pretty commonly available online. Drafts -- that is, papers not ready for submission -- usually aren't, but I think this is more because people don't want to be embarrassed by posting half-baked stuff where everyone can see it.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:34 AM on September 9, 2009

As a scientist and recently defended PhD student (in the sciences), I would be wary of putting anything unpublished on the internet. Especially something that is in "article" form, as it could easily be plagiarized and not credited to you. Some stuff you could put up:

1. Computer programs you've written to do a simulation, etc.
2. Presentations or posters from conferences where you've presented.
3. Thesis once published because it is copyrighted to you.

Each journal where you have publications will let you know its protocol for distributing/republishing papers you have published with them - I just went through and looked all this crap up to "republish" a bunch of my papers in my thesis. Generally I don't think the journals like you to redistribute the papers on your personal website, but you can link to the publisher's website where anyone at a university/company that subscribes to the journal can download. However, as madcaptenor said, many people just post the pdf's directly on their websites, and my group does the same thing.
posted by sararah at 8:29 AM on September 9, 2009

I would recommend talking to the library - libraries are coordinating large programs to make academic work available online, easily searchable, and permanently available (unless you say so) through institutional repositories. The library can convert them to PDF for you in most cases, and help you to upload.

Do be sure to check any licenses you've signed with publishers first (or the librarians can help you with that too), and truly unpublished work should not usually be put online unless the journal allows you to put up preprints.
posted by wingless_angel at 10:00 AM on September 9, 2009

It sounds like you may want to put up work that you have no intention of ever publishing in the peer-review literature. Even though you're probably all burned out in post-grad mode and may not think it's worth it right now, you may really benefit from getting your work into a peer-reviewed journal, (though this of course depends on your field and career path).

There are so many journals available to publish scholarly work, it may well be worth it to get your work into one and thus better protected from some of the pitfalls of self-publishing already noted. My strategy with papers I'm burned out on is just find a second or third-tier journal in your field, submit, and then forget about it for a while. If the work gets rejected or the comments that come back are too hard to manage, just submit to a different journal. The process may take time, patience, and a bit of extra work, but five years from now you're more likely to regret NOT doing it than doing it.
posted by gubenuj at 10:07 AM on September 9, 2009

The first thing you need to do with accepted journal articles is check if you signed away any rights to the publisher. Some will let you post preprint copies, some will let you post the final author manuscript, and some won't let you post it at all. You can find out a lot of this information through the SHERPA RoMEO database. Then once you know what your rights are you should look to see if your institution's library has an institutional repository. By adding your papers to the university's IR, you ensure that they will be preserved and remain accessible with a persistent URL, which you couldn't do if you just published them on your own website. (What about when you graduate and change institutions, for example? Your library will keep the documents in the IR available, but your department might not keep your student website up.) If your institution doesn't have an IR yet, does your discipline have a commonly used repository that functions the way arXive.org does for physics and math?
posted by MsMolly at 11:56 AM on September 9, 2009

I know personally of a case (in a humanities field) where a grad student submitted a paper to a major journal, and then published the same paper informally on his website.

The journal accepted the paper, but rescinded the acceptance when it was pointed out to the editor that the same paper had been online for 6 months.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2009

sararah said: "As a scientist and recently defended PhD student (in the sciences), I would be wary of putting anything unpublished on the internet. Especially something that is in "article" form, as it could easily be plagiarized and not credited to you."

When I've explained to people who aren't in academia that standard protocol among mathematicians is to post their papers online, they always mention the possibility of plagiarism. People who are in academia never mention this. I have a feeling that plagiarism is much less common than people think.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:50 PM on September 9, 2009

Actually, plagiarism in academia is very common - I have several friends who have had their work plagiarized. One of them had an entire paper from the web submitted to a journal, with (very) slightly changed start and conclusions. It was only an accident that he ever learned of it (there are so many journals, the chances of getting away with this are quite high).
For that reason, I would not post anything on the web that you intend to publish. If it is published, link to it. If you do not intend to publish it, at least place a copyright notice on the webpage.
posted by Susurration at 7:32 PM on September 9, 2009

In academia in the sciences it seems like you hear about plagiarism on a regular basis. And outright plagiarism is a lot easier to spot than stealing ideas from someone's unpublished works and not citing/crediting them. I guess I don't know how it is in mathematics and other fields. Or maybe I'm just paranoid, amirite?
posted by sararah at 10:16 AM on September 10, 2009

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