Experiences with Kudos: Dr Michael Collins

October 11 2016 / By Lauren McNeill

untitled“Kudos knows that something was never better said than by the academic who spent years working out how to say it. Kudos is not just about being referenced widely, it is about being referenced accurately and widely. For that reason, it is a great platform for distributing our ideas. It says our ideas are worthwhile for themselves.”

Kudos provides a toolkit for increasing usage and impact of published research. Researchers use Kudos to explain work in plain language, and to manage and measure efforts to share it (by email, social media, academic networks and more). Here, Dr Michael Collins from the School of English at the University of Kent talks about his experiences with Kudos.

How did you discover Kudos?

The publisher of an important journal in my discipline, Comparative American Studies, got in contact with me about possibly being involved in a trial of Kudos. As I had published a couple of times with the press, and am keen on ensuring as much readership for my work as possible, I agreed to participate. I feel it is important for people other than a small range of academics to be aware of, and able to access, cutting edge work in the field. I have been involved in supporting the move toward Open Access in the last few years, but feel that traditional presses have a role to play in that. I think print journals (on the whole) do a great job in presenting our research and we shouldn’t rush to end that form of research distribution. Some combination of the philosophy of open access and the traditional print certainly appeals. Kudos fulfils that need by driving “shares” whilst also ensuring that articles are read from their original source.

Can you describe Kudos to other authors and academics who might not know about it?

Kudos is a system for driving up citations and usage of academic publications by making them more searchable using traditional mainstream search engines like Google and such like. It works in two ways. First, by “enriching” articles with searchable images, keywords and simple “lay” abstracts. This side of it allows our work to be read by more “casual” readers who may not subscribe to academic journals or be aware of things such as the MLA International Bibliography as a research tool. Essentially, it draws content from numerous publications that might not be easily located together into one place. The other aspect is that Kudos connects with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. to allow the easy distribution of links to research articles through social media. You are then able to track how many times the article has been retweeted, seen, cited etc. using the system on their website.

What was your experience of using Kudos in terms of navigability and functionality?

Kudos is remarkably easy to use. No academic has huge amounts of time to focus on their social media presence, as much as we might like to. After all we have all that research and teaching to get done! Kudos makes this easy by breaking the process down
into simple steps: Explain, Share and Measure. Explain asks
you to answer two simple questions – what is the work about, and
why is it important. You can also link to additional content (images for searches, links to other pertinent research in the area etc.) that makes the article more “findable”.

Why do you think that it is important for researchers to publicize their work?

Disseminating research is important …
If you don’t share your research, then the world won’t know it exists and will go elsewhere for answers – and these might not be good, or sufficient.

There is an institutional/professional answer to why it is important for authors to promote their work, and an idealistic, hopeful one that touches on our immediate social/political climate. I will start with idealism. As scholars we are at the forefront of ideas, and whether we are deliberately seeking it or not, ideas are what drives humanity forward. It is incredibly frustrating how often individuals choose not to share their ideas for fear that they might be misunderstood. Kudos knows that something was never better said than by the academic who spent years working out how to say it is. Kudos is not just about being cited widely. It is about being cited accurately and widely. Access to the core research is a crucial issue nowadays, when information is everywhere.

This is where the politics thing comes in. There has been lots of discussion recently in the press about “post-truth” society, “post-truth” politics and the like, and this has had substantial impact on our world. Now, it might not be possible for academic research to present the full and unequivocal truth for all time, but over 400 years scholars have developed systems of peer review that allow us to get a bit nearer to it – be a bit fairer, a bit more balanced, a bit more accurate. Lies are out there. Lies have a platform, so truth should build its own.

This is why disseminating research is so important.

Even if we cannot change the world directly we can know that the world has access to what we do, what we have said. If you don’t share your research then the world won’t know it exists and will go elsewhere for answers – and these might not be good, or sufficient answers. So, a “serious academic” (to flip a phrase flying around at the moment) will try to move society a little closer to knowing and acting on evidence.

Sharing is a social good; it is important for universities to be part of that process ... and Kudos allows us to participate in that process. … That is a great and powerful thing

Sharing information widely and accurately is unbelievably important in that process. It might be the most important thing of all, actually. So, to the institutional context. Not only is sharing our work a social good, it is important for universities to be part of that process and they want to be. We might have some scepticism about why our institutions and publishers promote our research at times – I know academics feel legitimate concerns about REF etc. – but Kudos allows us to participate in that process and take some responsibility for it, shaping it as we do. That is a great and powerful thing.

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