Kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Scholarly Kitchen started over four years ago, there was no clear indication that it might take off. A scholarly publishing blog? It sounded implausible, but the Kitchen is now part of a robust blogging ecosystem in scholarly publishing. And as 2012 ends, I wanted to make some observations and share some data. After all, I think more than a few readers might be interested to know how much a group of volunteer writers who barely communicate with one another are able to accomplish.

  • We continue to be a discussion blog, not a broadcast blog. We have about 10 comments for every post, and some posts get dozens of comments, with a few having more than 100 comments. It’s definitely a place for people to share, debate, and discuss.
  • We have more than 3,500 email followers, almost 5,000 RSS followers, and more than 4,000 Twitter followers.
  • We now have — thanks to the wonderful volunteers on SSP’s Communications Committee — a Wikipedia page.
  • For the first time, we’ve crossed the 1,000,000 views threshold in a year (a 45% increase over last year, which itself was a 95% increase over the prior year), and we had our first month of 100,000+ views (November).
  • We added some excellent new bloggers this year, who have brought new perspectives and insights to the blog.
  • We continue to have extremely dedicated and productive bloggers, some who publish weekly, and others who do a lot of invisible work suggesting topics or “Ask the Chefs” questions or approving comments or interacting on Twitter.
  • We have a smart and well-informed audience that pushes us, questions us, calls us out, and keeps us honest.
  • It’s still a lot of work, but rewarding work doesn’t feel like work most of the time. And we publish nearly every weekday through the year, despite all the bloggers being volunteers.

So what were the most popular posts of 2012? Given our reputation for fearlessly confronting questions emanating from open access (OA) initiatives, it might be surprising to know that many of our top posts in 2012 had nothing to do with OA. Citations still get a lot of attention, especially citation misbehavior. Our e-book posts proved that the Kitchen can occasionally provide a cross-over hit, getting amplified by the mainstream press. Here are the most popular posts from 2012 (with two related posts combined in #1 — the first was the most popular, the second also made the list, but lower down):

  1. The Emergence of a Citation Cartel and Citation Cartel Journals Denied 2011 Impact Factor
  2. E-books and the Personal Library
  3. Why E-book Distribution Is Completely and Utterly Broken (and How to Fix It)
  4. The Typography of Authority — Do Fonts Affect How People Accept Information?
  5. Not Free, Not Easy, Not Trivial — The Warehousing and Delivery of Digital Goods
  6. A Proposed List — 60 Things Publishers Do
  7. Mysteries of the Elsevier Boycott
  8. Something’s Rotten in Bethesda — The Troubling Tale of PubMed Central, PubMed, and eLife
  9. Amazon Enhances Its Position in Academic Markets with Launch of Its Whispercast System
  10. Six Mistakes Your Sales Reps Are Making

Of course, traffic doesn’t correlate completely with importance, but traffic means a lot. It’s ultimately the best signal we have from our audience. Believe me, there’s nothing more sobering than watching a post you’ve slaved over for days or weeks land with a thud.

So, we enter Year 5 of the Scholarly Kitchen with some new voices and a lot of energy and momentum. May your 2013 be superb and rewarding, both personally and professionally. Thanks for reading!

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.


13 Thoughts on "Update from the Blog — Thanks for an Amazing Year"

Which articles got the most discussion? These are the hot issues. Calling these comments, as is the jargon, is something of a misnomer as many are author responses. One of the Kitchen’s strengths is that the authors quickly respond to comments. Many blogs do not or not much.

Well, I guess I have to reply, given that observation.

The posts that got the most comments were about OA, not surprisingly — from the Research Works Act (RWA) to the Elsevier boycott. Other topics getting a lot of comments included the Big Deals, e-books, and Science 2.0.

Thus illustrating the altmetrics dilemma: are these the best posts, the worst posts requiring the most correction, or merely the flashiest?

We need some new dwarfs for blog metrics (there being no alt) — flashy, frothy, foamy and funny for starters. Foamy is angry while frothy is excited, etc. I like watching the turbulence when it snows. Now we can watch the turbulence of thought. Not bad that.

Thanks for keeping those of us working in scholarly publishing up on current issues and providing a forum for discussion! Congratulations on another great year!

Some praise and thanks are due to our Master Chef, Kent, for your editorial leadership, seemingly limitless ideas on our industry, and tireless work that you put into making this endeavor a success. Thanks for your leadership and looking forward to more cooking in the new year.

Kudos to Kent and all the Chefs for a great forum plus an excellent example of how to “do it right” for those wanting to create such a dynamic communication vehicle in their own communities. Good show, all and here’s to more great posts, discussions, and ‘breaking of records’ in 2013.

P.S. Your next photo must come from Kitchen Stadium because you are all “Iron Chefs.”

All very interesting, and congrats on hitting a million views this year etc., but I wonder what percentage of the comments come from non-SK authors. For example, before I left this message, only three of the nine comments came from two readers. It seems like this happens a bit. Like with a journal citing other articles in the same journal to boost their IF, it would be interesting to see the percentage of comments coming from non-SK authors.

Good question, but hard data to arrive at given our limited time and resources. However, it’s also difficult to know what it might mean. Comments aren’t like citations — commenting by an SK author is not analogous to self-citation, especially because most of the SK-author comments are responding to other comments. So, you’d expect at least 50% of our comments to come from SK authors just because we’re really conscientious about responding to comments other people leave. That’s not self-citation, but responding to a comment. Very different things.

That said, of our top recent commenters, 4 were SK authors, 3 were not. Of the SK authors, at least two were recruited because they were good commenters.

Finally, not all comments from SK authors agree with the post they’re commenting upon. In many cases, the SK authors commenting on another SK author’s post will expand on the post, disagree with the post, or point out problems with some aspect of the post. Comments present much more information about why they’re made than do citations, for instance.

Thanks for commenting. By responding, I’m keeping up our 50% “SK author as commenter” rate!

Indeed, another great thing about the Kitchen is how we chefs argue among ourselves. I have had some very learned go-rounds with other chefs.

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