How to... ensure your article is highly downloaded: what you can do PRIOR to submission

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As an author, you can dramatically improve the chances of your article being downloaded once it's online, before you even submit it!

Dramatically improve the chances of your article being downloaded.

There are three easy steps you can take to ensure it enjoys high usage:

  1. Choose a descriptive title
  2. Use appropriate keywords
  3. Write an informative abstract

1. Choose a descriptive title

  • Write a title for your article which includes the most important keywords and demonstrates the significance of your research
  • Use a title that is unambiguous and clear in both its meaning and its syntax.

Good examples:

  • "A framework for transportation decision making in an integrated supply chain"
  • "Organizational change and development: the efficacy of transformational leadership and training"
  • "Consumer perception of organic food production and farm animal welfare"

These titles make sense as sentences; they introduce the content of the article and contain the main words and phrases that readers will search on.

An intro to Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

By choosing descriptive titles and keywords, you are ensuring that your article can be easily found through search engines. Search engines use complex algorithms to determine what weblinks appear high on the list of results. The better your keywords, title and abstract are, the higher your article will appear on search engine results lists, and the more your article will be downloaded.

2. Use appropriate keywords

  • Researchers search using key phrases. What would you search for? Think of every likely angle that someone would search on, and make sure that the angle is covered with a keyword
  • Look at the keywords of other articles that are similar to your paper – do they give good results? Try searching using those keywords
  • Use keywords that might not appear in your title, for example the wider subject areas, the sub-discipline, the methodology used
  • Keywords don't need to be single words, they can also be phrases: people search on ‘business ethics', not only on ‘business'
  • Don't use jargon or invented keywords that people probably won't search on – keywords should reflect a collective understanding of the subject area
  • Use synonyms to ensure your article comes back in the results for a wider range of search terms
  • Think of the international aspect, for example ‘real estate' is relevant to a US audience, but ‘property market' or ‘housing market' are terms more widely used in the UK
  • Include all variants of a keyword e.g. ‘CSR' and ‘Corporate Social Responsibility'.

Other resources

Have a look at Google's AdWords keyword tool to find the keywords that are the most popular in searches. However, just because a keyword is popular, doesn't mean it is right for your article. Only use relevant keywords to ensure a researcher isn't misled.

3. Write an informative abstract

The abstract is the main place that a search engine will take the data from which determine where your article should place in its results:

  • Including the keywords and key phrases in your abstract is one of the best ways to optimize your article on search engines. It allows Google to assess your article for its relevance to certain search terms
  • After you've ensured you have chosen the best keywords and you have deployed them in the right ways in your abstract and title, make sure you use them throughout your article: consider using them in subheadings, within the titles of figures and tables, as well as in the main body of the text. Search engines can also look at these places
  • Consider the first sentence of your abstract – this is visible within the Google search results, therefore your first sentence should get straight to the points and include strong keywords. See the example below:

Image: First sentence of abstract visible in Google search

The abstract is also the shop window for your research:

  • As well thinking about Google's perspective, remember that abstracts are normally free to read online and will attract a reader to click through to the full article
  • Consider a video abstract to complement your paper and key your key messages across.


Don't overuse keywords and damage the integrity of your research. You should still write naturally. Google can detect abuse of this so there's no need to include a certain keyword more than once or twice in your title or more than three times in your abstract.

4. Key points to take away

  • Your title should include the key terms from your research
  • Choose an intelligent list of words and phrases for the keyword section
  • Use those keywords naturally in your abstract.