The “Scholarly Blog”: PressForward’s Many Paths to Success, and How to Measure Them

On August 13 and 14, the PressFoward team met with current PressForward Partners, prospective partners, and interested participants for the PressForward Institute, an intensive, two-day symposium on open access scholarly communication, curated community publications and the PressForward plugin. Partners presented publications and roundtables facilitated discussion on keeping up with scholarly work on the open web, peer review and metrics, and the future of open science. There were workshops on using PressForward, training and managing volunteer editors, and content curation. The goals of these two days—to assess the scholarly communications landscape in which our partners are collaborating, train new users in the plugin, and get feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the plugin in science communications—were more than met, and we are grateful that our partners—many traveling internationally, all traveling during a busy time of year—were so generous with their time, energy and ideas. We’re also enthusiastic about the PressForward publications in development, and look forward to sharing them as they launch.

The PressForward Institute opened with a keynote from Joan Fragaszy Troyano, who was the PressForward Director during the project’s first three years. That opening address can be read here.

The first PressForward Partner publication to launch, Ant, Spider, Bee, published an article inspired by the experiences and ideas that their representatives, Kimberly Coulter, Martin Spenger, and Finn Arne Jørgensen, had at the PressForward Institute. It is briefly excerpted below, but please read the entire article here. – Stephanie Westcott

“The Scholarly Blog:” PressForward’s Many Paths to Success and How to Measure Them

It has been five months since Ant Spider Bee relaunched its site with the WordPress web aggregation and publication plugin PressForward. Thanks to a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we have been able to pilot this tool as a partner of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. PressForward helps us review a collection of relevant RSS feeds, nominate the posts we deem of greatest interest to our readers, and repost excerpts. By doing the aggregating work of the “ant,” it helps us be the “bee”…allowing more resources for digestion and cross-pollination.

“Digestion” and “cross-pollination” are two main functions of scholarly blogs, electronic publications that may build community and curate, contextualize, or comment on issues in a field of study. Discussing how a tool like PressForward is relevant for scholarly communication, and in particular blogs that engage an academic community with relevant news along with original “gray literature” (meaning not peer-reviewed), was a focus of the PressForward Institute for Scholarly Communication at George Mason University from 13-14 August. We enjoyed meeting RRCHNM staff and learned how to better manage our feeds and share them with others. It was great to meet the other three original pilot partners [PLoS, MicroBEnet, CitizenScienceToday (Zooniverse)] and other participants (including Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory and the Association of College and Research Libraries’ dh+lib).

In these five months since adding PressForward we’ve seen our traffic increase 138%. Still, we ask: what does a successful scholarly blog look like for us, what role does PressForward play, and how can we measure this success?

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