Action Items for Increasing Scholarly Visibility: Curating Profiles in HeinOnline, Google Scholar, & ORCID

Many databases and professional networking sites feature author profiles that compile an author’s scholarship and provide impact metrics such as citations, downloads, views, etc.  Among other things, these profiles can help authors engage with other scholars, identify new and seminal works, and enhance the visibility of and citations to their own scholarship.

Some of these profiles are created automatically with no author interaction.  Others must be created and curated by the author.  And it takes time to curate these profiles to reflect one’s body of work as completely as possible.

With so many different author profiles out there, it wouldn’t be effective for scholars to spend time curating all of them.  So which ones offer the most bang for your buck?  If you’re a law professor and your goal is to increase your scholarly visibility,  I recommend three:  HeinOnline, Google Scholar, and ORCID.

HeinOnline & Google Scholar

A new study by Caroline Osborne and Stephanie Miller of West Virginia University College of Law found that law scholars who adopt author profiles in Hein and Google Scholar are more likely to be cited than scholars who do not.  They also found that adopting a Google Scholar profile also resulted in increased downloads of scholarship in SSRN.  That’s pretty powerful.

The same study also found that the majority of faculty have not adopted either profile – only 35% had a Hein author profile and just 17% had Google Scholar profiles. Impact of Google Scholar and HeinOnline profiles

HeinOnline & US News

As many of you know, U.S. News is developing a new law school scholarly impact ranking that will analyze each school’s scholarly impact using citations, publications, and other bibliometric measures.  HeinOnline will provide the data for the ranking.  This means that it’s very important for tenure and tenure track law faculty to review to create and review their author profiles in HeinOnline to ensure that they are accurate and as representative of their scholarship as possible.

Although Hein has a very strong collection of law reviews and other legal journals, law scholars publish in many other types of publications including books, interdisciplinary publications, etc. This creates a representation problem because scholarship that is unavailable in Hein – unknown to Hein – is not being represented in the data sent to U.S. News for the scholarly impact ranking.

Hein Online & ORCID

Hein is aware of this problem and has, therefore, sought partnerships with other content providers to expand its publication and citation metrics.  One of these partnerships is with ORCID. ORCID provides unique, persistent digital identifiers (ORCID iDs) for authors that distinguish their work from the work of other authors.  It’s sort of like a social security number for authors.  They are free and easy to register for.  The ORCID iD profile also lists an author’s credentials and list of their publications, although curation will likely be required.

This partnership will consist of a two-way data flow between HeinOnline and ORCID.  Connecting your ORCID iD to HeinOnline already allows you to “display your HeinOnline works on your ORCID record.”  And coming soon, metadata about scholarship represented in your ORCID record  (including books, non-law and interdisciplinary publications) can be pulled into HeinOnline. For more on this partnership, see my earlier WisBlawg post about it.

Pulling in additional data from ORCID into Hein has potential to address the representation problem in the US News Ranking – but I stress the word potential. We don’t know whether US News would accept this ORCID enhanced data for the ranking because they haven’t announced what methodology and data they will use. But, they have indicated that they are open to consideration of additional sources as the methodology evolves.

Potential to address representation problem graphic

Note that the Osborne & Miller study, which was conducted in early 2019, found that adopting an ORCID profile did not increase citations to a law scholar’s works. That doesn’t surprise me.  Before this Hein/ORCID integration, I wouldn’t have advised law faculty to devote much time to ORCID.  However, as I’ve explained above, the game has now changed.

Action Items

So, to reiterate, if you’re a law professor and your goal is to increase your scholarly visibility,  I recommend creating and curating three profiles:  HeinOnline, Google Scholar, and ORCID.  This list of action items will help you get started.  It was compiled by Sheila Rabun, ORCID US Community Specialist at LYRASIS and me for our presentation, New Possibilities for Sociolegal Scholars: Hein, ORCID, and Your Scholarly Profile at the recent Law & Society Virtual Conference.