How to Go About Getting Your Academic Paper Indexed
In academia, it’s not enough to conduct ground-breaking research or churn out exquisitely crafted papers. You also need to make sure the right people can easily find your work, thus ensuring that your research gets the exposure it deserves. Even if you produce the most compelling and insightful paper in your field, other scholars won’t be able to find it unless you index your work with discovery services, search engines, databases, and aggregators.
Indexing is imperative because it allows academic journals to be discovered, referenced, and cited, giving them visibility they wouldn’t otherwise have. The more your article is referenced or cited, the more people it will reach, the more prominence you’ll gain, and the more your career will advance. Indexing your article will require some effort on your part, especially since each index can have different entry requirements, but devising a clear strategy will make it a much easier task—and it’s absolutely worth the effort!
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If you’ve already published your paper, congratulations! Let’s now look at some of the ways to help you decide which academic journal indexes to submit your article to.
Compile a shortlist of your preferred indexes
The first thing you have to do is decide where you want your article to be indexed. You can submit your work for indexation in general search engines, databases, and aggregators or discipline-specific indexes, each with its own advantages and entry requirements.
As you conduct your research for good candidates, take note of the requirements of each index to streamline the process when you start reaching out. However, since some accept articles from all disciplines while others only index publications in particular subject areas, the most important thing is to make sure your article is eligible. Our suggestion is to compile a shortlist of all the indexes you want your work to appear in and apply to only a select few at a time to make the task less overwhelming. Of course, there’s no limit to how many you can apply to, but if you send out a bunch of applications simultaneously, it may be too hard to keep track of all at once.
Where do you start? Consider the type of index where you want your work to appear while keeping in mind that not all of them will feature your full text but only the basics, such as the title and abstract. Also, ask yourself how many people can access the indexing service and who tends to use it. Is it a tool for the general public or a niche audience? Is it discipline-specific or general? Is it obscure or widely known?
Learn as much as you can about each index and choose the ones that will give you either the largest general exposure or the easiest exposure to your target audience, making sure you maintain a balanced mix of both. Exposure to a general audience helps make your research more mainstream, which is particularly important if it contains recommendations that can help regular people. Of course, greater exposure to peers is also crucial as this is how your article will rack up references and citations.
Map out your indexing strategy
Once you’ve decided which indexes you want your work to appear in, you’ll need to come up with a plan, meaning you’ll need to decide which ones to apply to first. We suggest starting with those that have the easiest entry requirements—which are usually the free, public search engines (such as Google Scholar)—to ensure your work is online and available to the general public. Once you cover all your bases with more general indexes, you can branch out to the more specialized or niche ones or those with more complicated application requirements.
Scholarly databases and academic indexes tend to have stricter guidelines and tougher requirements, making the process lengthier and more complex. You should also keep in mind that some scholarly indexes only accept submissions at specific times of the year, but even free databases have quality control, so check all the entry requirements in advance regardless of the type of index you’re applying to. Just as when you submit a paper to an academic journal for publication, following the guidelines is essential, and an index may reject your paper simply because you didn’t adhere to them.
Be sure that you meet the guidelines of each index with regard to publication scope, the journal’s minimum publication history, article quality and readability, and adequate citations. If some linguistic issues are impairing the professionalism of your paper, you can hire an academic editor to eliminate them. However, if your work doesn’t comply with other requirements, such as disciplinary areas, all you can do is try another index.
Don’t be tempted to apply only to the general indexes and forgo the more specialized ones. Again, being featured in both types is the best way to maximize your reach.
Submit your journal article for indexing
Once you’ve organized your shortlist according to which indexes will be easiest to apply to and which will give you the most exposure, it’s time to start submitting your paper for indexation. You may be tempted to get your applications out as quickly as possible so that your work can start making the rounds without delay, but rushing it can backfire in the long run.
Take your time before you file your request to ensure you’ve met all the requirements and seen to all the fine details in the submission guidelines so your application isn’t rejected over a technicality. If you do make a mistake and get rejected, you can usually reapply, but that will take more time since some indexes have a waiting period for reapplication.
Indexing your journal article can be a complex, time-consuming process, but you can make it much easier on yourself by being organized and having a clear plan in place before you start applying. Read all the guidelines and requirements of your chosen indexes thoroughly, and keep applying to every relevant one you can to increase your exposure.
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