I just became aware of a new (?) service from Wiley called ArticleShare. Most Wiley journals now let an author choose up to 10 individuals who will have free access to the article. Those individuals get an auto-generated email from Wiley, offering them free access to the article, courtesy of the author. The email also includes some unrelated marketing verbiage from Wiley about their author-pays open access options.
I can see where this service could be useful, particularly to authors whose friends and close colleagues otherwise wouldn’t have free access to the article. But like most things that can be useful, it can also be abused. Wiley markets this service as a way to increase your impact. I suggest that you not think of it that way. In particular, I suggest that you be hesitant about using this service to send your article to people you don’t know.
Most academics are time- and attention-limited, and so are very careful about how they allocate those scarce resources. That’s especially true for senior academics. Most academics also already have their own ways of identifying articles they want to read. And academics at most developed country colleges and universities already have free access to many journals via institutional subscriptions. Finally, “self promotion” of one’s own work is a topic on which there’s a wide range of views, both about exactly what constitutes “self promotion” and whether “self promotion” is a good thing. And how the “self promotion” is done matters a lot.
So here’s my suggestion: don’t think of sending your paper to people you don’t know–or asking Wiley to do so for you–as a way to publicize your work. Focus on what the person you’re thinking of sending the paper to is likely to want, not on what you want. Before sending your paper to someone you don’t know, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this person likely to be very interested in my paper?
- Would this person be likely to miss my paper unless I sent it to them?
If the answer to both questions is “yes”, I suggest that you not use Wiley’s ArticleShare service (or any similar service that any other publisher offers). That kind of impersonal approach risks coming off as spam. Instead, I suggest emailing a pdf along with a personal message explaining why you’re sending it (i.e. why you think he/she will be interested in your paper, and why you thought he/she might miss it) Even if you do think of this primarily as a way to publicize your work, you’re more likely to get someone you don’t know to pay attention if you take the time to send a personal explanation.
Just my two cents; I’m guessing at least some and possibly many of you will disagree (which is fine; there’s often scope for reasonable disagreement on professional etiquette). And before you point it out, yes, it’s possible that I’m just getting old. 🙂