PhD Progress & Thoughts

Conducting Research with Integrity 2

A Sequel to the first one;

Conducting Research with Integrity

I Commented on things like communicating with stakeholders and acting with integrity when it comes to honestly interacting with the beneficiaries of my work, but there is also more to it at times.

Sometimes, how you go about the paperwork can be important, too. So, I’ll take a moment to fully disclose how I, a business-savvy professional, am ‘gaming’ the Academic metric system that rewards pay-walled journals that don’t pay authors for their work.

I have a problem with the ethics of exclusive access to the forefront of empirical knowledge, only available to those with university affiliations or a LOT of money. It reinforces the ‘ivory tower’ status of academic research and, might I even comment, the irrelevance of it at times. If academics don’t step outside their workplace to engage with the community and their work costs $40 per article to read, nobody is going to read, or use, their work! Only other academics! What a nightmare! The cycle is perpetuated out of a desperate necessity to compete with coworkers for impact factors.

So, I’m going to use professional loopholes to both gain the industry benefit of the metric system while still enabling my research to be read by stakeholders for free. This blog is one of the outlets I use, where I report my findings in plain terms with a link to the article in question. It’s useable, it’s accessible, it’s free and – most importantly – from the same author who wrote the original article.

Nice! There’s just one problem – my blog isn’t that famous. Such initiatives aren’t going to reach that many people unless they use Google to search my article’s title only to find that there are two versions – the Journal article and the Blog translation. Going to google is generally inadvised for scholars past High School, so that’s not really likely. So what am I doing about it?

Well, out of my own discretionary income, I’m paying for creative individuals to help boost my exposure and the reach of my work so that those who need to see my work…can! I specify ‘discretionary income’ because it’s not coming out of my research funding, which is important. For want of a better word, my spending on this avenue is frivolous at best, and so is impossible to justify to the university why I’m using their money this way. What I CAN do is say I paid these people ‘for fun’ and that if my colleagues at the university don’t like it they can check the fact that it doesn’t contravene any university policy or ethical ruling on conduct. Work smarter, not harder.

One such individual I’m commissioning is a journalism graduate who needs paid work for exposure and to build their portfolio. Along I come with an article I need translated into more casual language, and published somewhere more mainstream than a nerdy blog (like a newspaper or a magazine), yet still free and accessible to the public. This tackles the lack of open access in my target journal and the ‘dry’-ness of academic writing in a 2-in-1 shot, meaning more people are likely to read my work.
Or…my writer’s rewording of my work. My journalist’s work about my work.


Another individual is being commissioned to do up a little poster for me to use for impact on my presentations and occasional handouts, so I can grab peoples’ attention and get invited back for return opportunities. Now, to clarify – this is an art-poster, not a science-poster. Any work that I need to do for my thesis and my academic work will remain completed by me alone. This poster is more for decoration than anything else. It’s a custom-made illustration that I get to keep, outlining my work in a snapshot, and will make a huge impression on the individuals considering whether or not to hire me for future work (which I hope will be related!)

Another individual I’m commissioning (yes, there are a few, but hear me out) is going to direct web traffic to my article using internet advertising and channels to boost its impact factor. The purpose of this exercise is to increase the article’s visibility to those who might otherwise read it, but haven’t heard of it, and simply require an online suggestion to check it out. These people might already have institutional affiliations, such as CEO’s and university students, but are more likely to read a topic once it’s captured their attention elsewhere. Sure, clicks and page views alone don’t boost my impact factor, I require citations and downloads for that to be the case…

…unless if I direct that traffic to a public version of the article on Researchgate. 😀

Photo by Pixabay on

I regret nothing.



I wanted to be punchy and end the article there, but I feel the need for this little line. I continue conducting high-quality, ethically sound and stakeholder verified research. My academic writing is my own and I continue producing original work that is not plagiarized or stolen. I am financially reimbursing, referencing, openly acknowledging and properly commissioning specific individuals to increase visibility and advertising for the work, just like any other landmark study from a high-profile laboratory would. The key difference is that my work is not famous or high-profile, and I’m doing it not FOR fame or high-profile status but simply more readership of the results once they’re published in a scholarly article.

To ensure that the journal of choice doesn’t necessarily ‘lose out’ in this case (they have their own advertising), I continue to link to the ‘original’ journal article in my ResearchGate and my blog posts – but I’m not going to direct individuals to an article they then have to pay to read. Not cool. I’m ALSO not comfortable paying this money TO the journal to ‘make’ my freely-written article open-access. That outlet only benefits the journal. Did I get paid to write this article? No! So why should MY money go to someone ELSE to enable that person to make MY work readable? Ridiculous.
Instead, my chosen approach circumvents paying journal owners and re-routes money to artists and precariously-employed creatives; An endeavor which I consider to be far more worthwhile.

At the end of it all, I’ll have a media-written piece, a pretty picture, and some Google Ads that pop up on the algorithm of an individual who has read news articles/business columns on similar work so that they can be directed to my stuff. And that, dear readers, is how you remain business savvy and ethical at the same time as using your wits to match the competition.


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