The emails arrive daily, sometimes more than one. Someone from South Africa, India, Singapore, Finland, the United States or some other country has just searched for me on Google or Bing, they say, and found one of my papers on Academia.edu.
Today’s is from Zimbabwe.
It’s almost always the same paper: my January 2015 publication, “Revisiting the UNESCO debate on a New World Information and Communication Order: Has the NWICO been achieved by other means?” It was published online six months before it appeared in print. And that’s when the daily emails started.
Most thrilling to me: In the past 30 days, people from 17 different countries have visited my page. People from 32 additional countries have visited since I joined Academia.edu a few years ago.
Upon entering academia after a career spanning 25 years in journalism, then moving from Canada to the U.S., I naturally expected to lose my audience — or any large audience. A handful of people would read my articles, I told myself and my journalist friends. I would no longer be a quasi-public figure.
This is really different from what I expected, and it’s thrilling. I know I’m not alone in this, either. How many of you are experiencing similar things since the arrival of internet analytics?
I do realize that many of my former colleagues, journalists as well as academics, are getting exposure and recognition they never would have anticipated before the internet. This trend has really picked up since I left my newspaper job in 2000. Today, journalists actually know where their readers come from and which articles they prefer.
A few details, for those who haven’t experienced Academia.edu as yet. I was not allowed to post the actual journal article on my Academia.edu site, which is open to the public, but the journal’s rules did say I could post the draft submitted for peer review. In the case of the NWICO article – but not most others I’ve had published – there was very little difference after the peer reviews because I’d submitted it to a conference beforehand and made significant revisions already.
Since the NWICO paper, as I call it for short, was published online in June 2014 by Telematics & Informatics, the copy I posted has attracted hits from all over the world to my Academia.edu site. That paper alone has had 179 views in eight months. I guess the journal has analytics too, and I should get them! This does not include the people who read it in the journal or download it from an academic database. It is, in my mind, an indicator of interest.
Another of my articles has had 75 hits and, because it was based on my dissertation, it attracted readers to that prodigious tome, which I naturally assumed would be read by about a dozen people. The dissertation is up to 114 views, as of this writing. I realize that these are just “views” and not people sitting down to read the entire thing. But it’s more attention than I ever expected it to get.
Never would I have anticipated that people from such distant places would read my articles. Or that I would become internationally known — not just in the English-speaking world, but far beyond that — even if it’s only to a few scholars who care deeply about the UNESCO battles from the 1980s.
I assumed I was retreating from public life into the ivory tower. What a surprise to find our readers are more far-flung and diverse than ever!