Publication lists and ePrints self-archiving with PublicationsList

Self-archiving of publications must be the next big thing in academic repositories because hot on the heels of the Depot is Unlike the Depot, is a commercial offering with a basic service allowing you to maintain a list of your own publications for free and for $20 they’ll host your self-archived ePrints for 12 months. Why would you pay to have your ePrints hosted when there are other free academic services offering self-archived ePrints? Well one reason might be ease of use. Maintaining a publications list is something I’ve never been able to do in a systematic way because a) I’m lazy and b) all the other services I’ve tried to date have poor interfaces when adding publication details. The Depot claims that it is easy to use because it only takes 10 minutes to add an article by typing into a series of web-based forms. Ten minutes per article? As all publications are indexed electronically I’m not sure why should I be typing anything.

I registered for a free account on and had my modestly small list of 14 journals articles and a book chapter imported complete with either PMIDs or DOIs in about 5 mins flat for the lot. You see have integrated something the Depot should seriously consider, integration with PubMed and Web of Science. Through a combination of these two databases I found all my publications and imported them directly into my account. Abstracts, keywords, PMIDs and DOIs automatically get imported too so even without including self-archived ePrints (which I don’t have anyway) you can link directly to citations or even electronic copies of my publications where available.

Another useful feature of is that you can include a list of your publications on a web page such as an institutional research group page or your virtual research environment either as a simple button (see below) or as an embedded list. On the down side doesn’t interoperate with other ePrints repositories such as institutional repositories but it remains to be seen if this is a serious limitation. The Depot for example only seems to have a couple of dozen entries in the publicly available browse list.

It’s early days yet for ePrints repositories but there are ways of making these services easy to use and many could learn from’s example. Now if the Depot or equivalent institutional repository services could make importing of publications as easy then they’d probably get a lot more takers, me and my whopping 15 publications included.

Publications list

Correspondence old style with Postcrossing

birminghambullring.jpgThis is a wonderfully simple back to basics idea. You register on to get a random postal address from any one of 25,000 other registered users spread across 144 countries. Then you send them a good ol’ fashioned postcard. How nice, for someone to receive a postcard from a random stranger. If they acknowledge receipt of your card on the Postcrossing web site then your address is eligible for a small and random act of kindness by entering the pool of recipients.

Twenty five years ago I had a few pen-pals including one in Australia. It took 4-6 weeks to turn around written correspondence but I will never forget the excitement of waiting for the post. Email has now all but killed that kind of simple pleasure because I could have a year’s worth of electronic correspondence in the space of one day, followed by a face-to-face video call and endless instant messaging. True, global electronic communication has opened up the world to countless individuals who might not have had access to other people or cultures, but it has also largely taken away the anticipation, the waiting that was part of the fun of written correspondence. Maybe in no small way this immediacy has changed our attitude to other things in a web-enabled world. I want it and I want it now.

Anyway I like sending postcards so I like The picture by the way is one of the landmarks in my home town and is winging its way by slow boat to my first Postcrossing recipient, in Finland as it happens, so ‘hei’ to my new Finnish friend.