The Why and How of Contributing Content to the WFRN

By Noelle Chesley (Chair, WFRN Repository Committee)

As digital technology evolves, the role of the academic researcher is also evolving. Moving forward, in addition to communicating with other professionals via the traditional routes (peer-reviewed journal articles and books), technological innovation is creating pressures for other sorts of content contributions by professionals, like blog posts and social networking communications. You may be wondering how to begin to contribute these new forms of professional information and communication. The Work and Family Researchers Network can help!

WFRN Membership and Attitudes about Content Contribution. One of the hallmarks of the WFRN website is content creation and sharing by the membership. Contributing content to virtual environments is one of the hallmarks of the current web environment. A recent survey conducted by the Outreach/External Affairs Committee revealed that many of you (79%) are “very interested” in sharing your work and expertise with a broader audience. However, we also know that many WFRN members are not aware they can contribute content, are not sure how to contribute, or are worried about copyright issues when it comes to uploading already published work to our repository. The goal of this post is to help clear up some of these issues and offer examples about how to share information with our community of scholars.

Posting to the WFRN News Feed. There are two ways to contribute content. The first is to post to the WFRN News Feed. This where many of you have already recirculated newspaper articles and reports on work-family topics, references to blog posts, and announcements (job openings, conference submissions, and the like). Current members automatically receive an email that summarizes all of the news feed content uploaded that week (non-members can sign up for the daily feed). In addition, items posted to the news feed are automatically shared with the WFRN’s Twitter Feed and Facebook page. To follow up on anything that interests you, all you have to do is click on the links in your email summary. This is a great way to share newsy items that you think would be of interest to our community of scholars.

For instance, Phyllis Moen recently authored a blog post for the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College. She sent links to the post to some people in her network (like me), but shared that, like many of our members, she wasn’t sure how to post it to our website where her blog would be seen by many more people via the news feed. To share something like a blog post, one needs to log in to the WFRN website, click on “Contribute Content” (middle item in the Navigation bar at the top of the page, 4th item in list) and select “post news,” then, “click here to post.” To add Phyllis Moen’s blog post to the news feed, I went to the “click here to post” and entered the title, source, URL for the post, and a brief summary of the post. I clicked the big blue “post” button at the bottom of the page, and voila, the item appears on the WFRN homepage in “Latest News” and in the weekly News & Events feed email for everyone to see.

Posting to the Work and Family Commons. The Work and Family Commons (WFC) differs from the News Feed in that this is a space for all of us to share original research findings with each other and to make these more accessible to the public. We envision that most of the content uploaded here will be published articles, article or book abstracts, conference papers or slides, or original teaching materials. One of the big issues many of us will confront in contributing to the WFC space is copyright issues should you want to upload a postprint of an actual article or book chapter. Some very helpful information about copyright issues can be found both on the WFRN website (here and here) and in a piece by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) here. However, copyright issues aside, nothing should stop you from sharing an abstract and citation information for your published work. This is a great way to get the word out about your recent publications to your colleagues and others in a way that is more efficient than direct or group emails.

As an example, I recently had an article accepted to Work, Employment, & Society. After reviewing the copyright materials on the WFRN website, I still had some questions, so I contacted the managing editor at the journal to ask directly about whether or not it would be appropriate to post a version of the accepted copy of my article to the Work and Family Commons. After a prompt reply, I learned that I can post the article to any noncommercial repository (like the WFRN’s WFC) 12 months after publication. Since this article was accepted in May and I haven’t seen a proof yet, I am anxious to let everyone know about this piece much earlier than that. As with News Feed items, I need to log in to the WFRN website and click on “Contribute Content” (middle item in the Navigation bar at the top of the page, 3rd item in list). This time, I select Deposit to WFC.” I chose to enter this as a journal article, since it is forthcoming as a peer-reviewed article. However, I do not have the volume, issue, and page numbers yet, so I left that information blank. Since I cannot yet upload the final version of this article to the Work and Family Commons right now, I uploaded an earlier conference paper. In the notes section, I let everyone know that this is forthcoming in the journal and that the paper that is uploaded is an earlier version (main findings unchanged) presented at a conference. What is nice about this is it connects an early conference paper with a slightly different title to the final published version of the paper. Finally, I click the “Deposit to WFC” button at the bottom of the page. When I check “My WFC Submissions” under my name in the green profile box on the left, I can see that my recent entry is listed as being part of the Work-Family Commons. Mission accomplished!

The Need to Create a Virtual Presence. Creating a virtual presence is extra work in an already very busy life. As you can see, users need to actively take steps to add news and research to our WFRN community. However, creating and maintaining an online presence is becoming more important for all professionals, including academics. The good news is that the WFRN website provides you with a number of contribution options that help you more efficiently reach your target audience of interdisciplinary researchers and professionals working on work-family issues. Happy posting!