Pollinate the lay press and double your citations

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Image licensed under Creative Commons. Taken by Jon Sullivan pdphoto.org

Every scientist wants to increase their citation rate, as that helps gain credibility in their field, which in turn helps gain funding for future research. As we mentioned last month, it’s possible to predict future publication impact based on current metrics.

Now, an article published in June this year has found that it’s possible to roughly double citations by publicising your work in the lay press. This would also, presumably, have the effect of educating the broader public about the scientific research being undertaken, which is an undoubted good for both the scientific establishment and society as a whole.

N.B. Thanks to Associate Professor Ian Whittington of the Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity for making me aware of this article.

[Featured image: Photo by brotiN biswaS on Pexels.com]


  1. I find it a little bit unsettling that (values of communicating science to the public aside) something that basically amounts to advertising for citations works so well. I’d like to think that scientists keep well informed of new developments relating to their research and cite articles based on their quality and relevance (and not based on media appearances).

    1. I confess to the tiniest qualm along those lines too, but I suspect that scientists often don’t keep well informed of every single new development that might relate to their research. After all, many fields overlap to a great extent, so the amount of research that a working scientist might have to keep up with may well preclude doing any research at all.

      It may also be that research that is publicised in the lay press needs to be written in a much more accessible style and is therefore readily understandable, while some scientists are so bad at communicating that, while their work may be relevant, no-one can understand it. After all, in order to be cited, an article needs to be readable.

  2. I’d agree that on the face of it this may seem like blatant self promotion, but from my experience it is difficult to get science into the most broadly accessible public media. Journalists in this area are quite specialised and are trained to spot well conducted and novel work.
    It would be difficult to get poor work into the public domain.
    But what is worse – promoting good work so that it has a societal impact or leaving it to languish in journals that only a few specialists pick up?

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