26. What to Do with a Published Paper?

© Gábor L. Lövei, CC BY 4.0 https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0235.26

Once you have published a paper, you can sit back and wait for recognition and world fame to arrive. It may be a long wait. Until that happens, there are a few things that are necessary or advisable to do.

First, remember to provide the necessary depository copies, or to deposit the electronic file in the appropriate digital repository. Sending copies of your output to your funding organisations is often not just a courtesy, but an obligation, and is specified in the research contract. Do not neglect this. If more physical copies are needed than you have, print and mail them. Foundations, especially private foundations, often collect the outputs that emerge from projects done with their support. This may be an important way of documenting the usefulness of their existence.

Of course, if you are the corresponding author, you should make sure that all your co-authors have copies of the published paper. Your institutional library may also have an archive containing the outputs from your unit or department. Give (or send) a copy to the librarian. It is polite (and, therefore, a good idea), to give copies to people who appear in the paper by name, either as sources of personal communication, or who you acknowledged for helping you along the way to publication. Likewise, it is a friendly gesture to send a copy to cited authors — but use this option with restraint: maybe to authors of primary papers you cited, but not to those of books or reviews.

You can also use the published paper as a networking tool, giving copies to your colleagues, group leaders, friends, parents, rivals, supervisors, etc. Think about other people or organisations who can benefit from the information you published. These might be non-governmental organisations, museums, collections, schools, field stations and the like. They share one thing in common: difficulties in obtaining such primary scientific literature.

Reprint Requests

The custom of asking for copies of papers is dying, or may be a thing of the past already. When papers were mostly printed, authors received a limited number of printed copies (reprints) and anyone could ask for a copy. Practically, you never had to buy a reprint published by someone else — reprints were part of the toolkit that scientists used to network with each other. To some degree, the electronic replacement of this practice still thrives. You will receive requests for copies from fellow scientists, institutions, students, etc. It rarely costs you much to fulfil these requests, and I suggest you do.

Archiving Your Paper on a Personal Website

Uploading an electronic copy of your paper, either on your personal website or that of your organisation, may increase the availability of your paper to the wider public. This option may be useful — but observe any legal limitations that may exist. Some publishers allow you to upload your paper — but only as an accepted, non-typeset manuscript version. Others are not so restrictive. You may also be asked to deposit your work in a publicly available repository. Such options are useful, because it increases the chance that others will find your paper. However, this depends on where the work was originally published. Check the relevant rules and regulations, including the copyright agreement.

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