Writing for discoverability
If you want people to find your paper, consider this: when looking for information, a great many researchers begin with a simple Google search. Most researchers do not go beyond the first page of search results, so one way to increase your paper’s discoverability is to write it in a way that makes it “search engine friendly.” Some tips:
- Try to keep your title concise but descriptive of your study.
- Use keywords in your title – Search engines use artificial intelligence (AI), and your paper will rise or fall in search results based on your use of relevant keywords.
- If you are including a keyword list in your manuscript, try to use ones that are different from those in the title, as those will already be tagged as key by the search engine.
- Choose your keywords well – it’s an obvious point, but your keywords should be descriptive and cover key concepts, research topic, etc.
- Always adhere to the guidance in the Instructions for Authors, but try to keep your abstract short.
- Use keywords in your abstract, but avoid “keyword stuffing” – the unnatural use of keywords. Search engines have adapted to detect patterns of duplicate content.
PubMed and Best Match
If you plan on submitting your manuscript to a journal that is indexed in PubMed®, that is a sound decision, given PubMed’s popularity with researchers. But once again, how you write your paper can affect whether it shows up in a search result. PubMed uses a search algorithm called Best Match, which sorts search results based on how many search terms are found in the various citations and in which fields they are found. It’s another way in which how you write your paper affects its discoverability.
Journal selection and discoverability
Writing a paper that is search engine friendly is important to your paper’s discoverability, but another big factor is where you choose to submit your manuscript. A couple of things to consider when deciding where to submit your paper include the following:
- Is the journal indexed? If the journal is indexed in a database such as PubMed or included in a digital repository such as PubMed Central®, that goes a long way toward increasing your paper’s discoverability.
- Is the journal included on a content database like Ovid®? Such resources help researchers, librarians, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals find important medical information.
- Does the journal have a society affiliation? While this is certainly not a requirement, society owned or affiliated journals have a “built in” readership that can positively affect your paper’s visibility.
A surprising amount of power is in your hands as an author regarding your paper’s discoverability. Writing your paper with AI-driven search engines in mind, and carefully choosing which journal to submit your manuscript to, go a long way toward increasing the visibility of your paper.
- LetPub.com: Preparing your manuscript for the machine reader: How to ensure your article content is discoverable
- Nordmedianetwork.org: Notes From a Manuscript Editor: How to Make Your Research More Discoverable
- Journal of the Medical Library Association: Artificial intelligence behind the scenes: PubMed's Best Match algorithm