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In this Sharing Research Special Issue, I am delighted to welcome as Guest Editor the Senior Vice President of Elsevier’s Marketing Communications & Researcher Engagement department, Nicoline van der Linden. After gaining an MSc in Medical Biology from the University of Amsterdam and an MBA from the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, she began her career as a researcher in Life Sciences. She worked as a molecular biologist in the pharmaceutical industry in Basel before joining Elsevier’s Amsterdam office two decades ago. Since then, she has held various roles in publishing, product development, marketing communications and researcher engagement.

I hope you enjoy this issue. We’ll be back in September with a focus on technology and how it can support you in your role.

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It was author Isaac Asimov who wrote in the 1970s: “It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”

Those words ring just as true in 2014. We see the role of our editors and authors changing – not only in terms of how they must manage their journals or craft their papers, but in their day to day lives as academics. The world is digitizing at a very fast pace; this has greatly influenced how we search for information and has broadened the possibilities for dissemination and visualization of content.

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Nicoline van der Linden

The role of publishers is evolving too. While we have long needed to ensure that manuscripts are publishable and protected, in recent years it has become increasingly important that we make them searchable; retrievable; citable; and suitable for archiving on all our platforms – and, to some extent, other platforms – and for this we need the latest technologies.

At Elsevier, we operate an integrated marketing communications policy designed to ensure that messaging and communication strategies are unified across all channels and are focused on the researchers we serve. We combine more traditional media with newer avenues and allow the strengths of one to support the weaknesses of the other.

Increasingly, that integrated marketing communications is being driven by technology and it is an almost irresistible force. Just look at popular author services such as Journal Insights, CiteAlert and Article Usage Reports where automation/IT and promotion go hand in hand. This rising focus on technology will allow our marketing to become more and more targeted as we embrace databases and new electronic delivery systems. We hope this means we will be able to deliver more meaningful information to our research communities. To assist with that process, we have developed an online Customer Preference Center, where recipients can choose which communications they would like to receive.

As well as the journal-specific campaigns – highlighted in the Marketing Overview you receive from your marketing communications manager each year – we also run ‘global’ campaigns, which cater for large numbers of titles. These allow us to deliver consistent, timely information to authors and/or editors, no matter which journal they are associated with. Examples include:

  • Speed campaign: A large-scale mailing to authors showcasing the improvements made to editorial, reviewing and publication times.
  • Impact campaign: For the past few years, we have sent communications to editors and authors containing newly-released Impact Factors (and relative Impact Factors) for each and every journal. In the future, we hope to do the same for other impact measurements.
  • Social media: In our experience, very few journals can carry their own social media channel so we have created portfolio or subject channels. We currently have over 160 of them on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn. In How you can use social media professionally, we describe the rapid growth of our followers and engagement and offer advice to editors wanting to set up their own profiles.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) / Search engine marketing (SEM): We have focused on improving these aspects for all our journal homepages so that content is easier to find.  As a result, over the past three years, the number of Elsevier titles ranking in the top 3 Google results has increased by almost 70 percent.
  • Open access campaigns: These promotional campaigns are focused on ensuring that people are aware that nearly 1,700 of our journals – almost all of them – now accept OA articles.
  • Top 25 downloads: In this author mailing, we announce the 25 most popular articles downloaded from ScienceDirect per subject area.

Each year, we open more than 18,500 articles to the public through promotional access. Via Elsevier funding (e.g. by waiving OA article fees) we open up another 2,440+. Together, that is more than 20,000 articles. The majority of these receive our support because the editor has indicated they are special in some way, or analysis of reader behavior has led us to do so. We also make journal articles openly available to the press. In addition, Elsevier is actively supporting open data. While we have already been leading in linking our articles to open data at various data repositories, we are now investigating how we can open up all supplementary materials on ScienceDirect that contain original research data.

It is worth noting that with the introduction of new tools, techniques and business models, responsibilities are changing. As editors, there is still much you can do to make noteworthy or novel research more visible to our readers, as we explain in How to promote research in your journals (and why you should).

But for authors, it is no longer the case that publishing their article will ensure people read their research. They have an important role to play in raising the profile of their article. This is especially true with the rise in the number of OA articles, which sees some of the promotional responsibilities (and possibilities) for sharing divested to the authors themselves. In New tools help authors boost the visibility and impact of their research, we outline some of the avenues we have available to support them.

Interestingly, this new emphasis on author self-promotion may leverage the already shifting focus from the Impact Factor to other measures such as downloads, social media shares, Snip, Eigenfactor, and H-index. If it does, you can rest assured that Elsevier’s Marketing Communications & Researcher Engagement department will be ready to respond…