By Paula J. Hane
The start-up Kudos first appeared on my radar in late May with its announcement of a pilot launch with two publisher partners, Royal Society of Chemistry and Taylor & Francis. It has just announced a third and final partner, AIP Publishing (AIP), for its pilot phase of research and development. Kudos is a new service with the mission of helping authors and institutions maximize the visibility of their publications—and garner more “kudos” for their work. With its three partners, it is now exploring tools and services to increase discoverability and facilitate filtering of research articles. To obtain some of the background and details of this project, I spoke with Melinda Kenneway, a publishing consultant who co-founded Kudos with fellow consultants David Sommer and Charlie Rapple
“The growing range of article metrics is driving authors to take a greater interest in how easy it is to find, read, and cite their work after publication,” says Kenneway. “But at the moment, authors are limited in what they can do to help improve the discoverability and readership of their work, and this is where Kudos will help.”
Rapple spoke at a recent ALPSP seminar and presented some facts and figures that help illustrate the problem that they hope Kudos will help to solve:
- Article numbers are growing by 3.26% each year (doubling every 20 years)
- 81% of early-career researchers worry that they aren’t keeping up with the literature
- Consequently, only 40% of articles are being cited (many don’t even get read)
As she noted in a blog post:
That’s a problem for publishers, whose role is to make research visible and useful, and the quality of whose journals is judged—rightly or wrongly—on citations. It’s a problem for researchers, their institutions and funders, because their effort and investment isn’t making as much of a difference as it could. It’s a problem for librarians, because it means content they are licensing isn’t doing as much to support the research process as it could or should. And it’s a problem for those who are teaching, learning or researching, and trying to keep on top of what is happening in and around their discipline.
Kenneway says she actually had the idea about helping authors ten years ago. At that time, she was at OUP and was just leaving to start her own consulting firm. She says the “perfect storm” of what has been happening recently—open access, article level metrics, ORCID (persistent researcher identifiers), RINGGOLD institutional identifiers, massive pressure to prove impact, social media sharing—has now propelled them to look for ways to help authors. Since authors work with many publishers, Kudos is designed to be a collaborative cross-publisher project.
There are three components of Kudos that Kenneway says would add enormous value for authors and this is what they have initially introduced into the pilot program.
- First is to provide additional metadata that would add context and comprehension to articles.
- Second is to enable attachment of rich digital assets that relate to articles—data, images, video, podcasts, blog entries—all things that explain an article and bring it to life. Not only does this enrich things for the reader but they become more inbound links to the article so it becomes more discoverable.
- Third is to help authors broadcast their work more broadly. Some authors employ a lot of social media promotion—they blog and tweet about their articles—and it serves to drive traffic back to a publisher’s site. But, at this point it’s only a very skilled minority who are able to use these tools effectively. So, Kudos is working to make this easier and more standardized.
At this point, the prototype research experiment with the three publishers is allowing authors to go into the system, see their current article level performance metrics—Kudos draws usage and downloads from the publishers and uses article level metrics from Altmetric.com—and then use the Kudos toolkit to help improve the performance of their articles.
Kudos also ran a survey of 40,000 authors who have published with its three publisher partners within the last 2 years. It had 3,661 responses and they are just doing the analysis now (high-level results will be published later this year). Here are a couple of early headline results, that relate directly to the Kudos concept:
1. To what extent do you think more could be done to increase the visibility, usage or impact of your articles on or after publication?
- answering “could be somewhat improved”: 51%
- answering “could be significantly improved”: 33%
- So, 84% of responding authors feel that the visibility and impact of their work could be improved.
2. If tools were available to help you increase the readership and impact of your articles, how likely would you be to use them, personally?
On a scale of 1 to 7 of likelihood of using these tools personally, 75% answered 5, 6, or 7 (i.e., likely, very likely or extremely likely).
This indicates strong interest in authors using these tools directly. In another question that needs to be analyzed in more detail, the authors also feel that they have a high level of personal responsibility for promoting their work themselves.
David Sommer says he believes Kudos is “the first initiative to build on the increasing interest in traditional and alternative metrics by giving academics—and, importantly, their institutions—some tools and guidance for making the most of social / multimedia.”
“We’re excited to be involved at such an early stage of Kudos’ development,” says Meloney Bartlett, head of journal publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry. “We’re seeking to understand how we can support our authors in building their visibility, and further increase the impact of their work, and the pilot with Kudos will help us do that.”
Ian Bannerman, managing director of Taylor & Francis, says, “This is a compelling and timely initiative which fits well with T&F’s wider support for authors and their institutions. We’re looking forward to testing a number of ideas to identify those that are most effective and useful across a range of subject areas.”
“We’re pleased to have secured the final partner place for this exciting project,” said John Linton, marketing director, AIP Publishing. “It’s a key strategic goal for us to build closer relations with our authors and help increase the exposure and usefulness of their published work. We see Kudos as a good fit with our own initiatives and look forward to discovering how we can work ever more collaboratively with the research community to maximize the potential of the articles that we publish.”
Kenneway also says that libraries and institutions might be interested in using the tools as well, doing some of this on behalf of the authors. They envision that about 80% of the service will be entirely automated, making it as simple as possible. They also plan to integrate as much as possible into existing workflows. Publishers have been doing as much as they can to be interlinked and make articles discoverable (such as through Google Scholar) but they haven’t really made use of their authors’ expertise and knowledge of their subjects and their authors’ networks.
Kudos plans for the service to be free for authors to use. It is grateful for the funding received from its first three sponsor publishers and is looking to its next round of funding. At some point there might be a subscription plan for using advanced tools; they may also provide an enterprise-level tool option. Ebooks are not included yet but could be a logical next step, according to Kenneway.
The results of the pilot program will be published later in the year, at which point Kudos will move into a beta phase of development. Kudos is currently seeking partners for this beta phase; publishers or institutions interested in participating should contact the company at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign up for news updates at http;//www.growkudos.com.
Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks. Her email address is email@example.com.