Deposit Your Research in the Work and Family Commons

Jerry A. Jacobs has been a member of the faculty in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania since 1983, when he completed his Ph.D. in sociology at Harvard. He has served as the Editor of the American Sociological Review and the President of the Eastern Sociological Society. His research has addressed a number of aspects of women’s employment, including authority, earnings, working conditions, part-time work and work-family conflict, and entry into male-dominated occupations. Jacobs’ current research projects include a study of interdisciplinary scholarly communication with grant support from the Alfred P. Sloan and Lyle M. Spencer Foundations. Please note that the views of our guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sloan Work and Family Research Network.

“Put your goods where the traffic is. Make it easy for your customers to find you.” I don’t know if my grandfather ever said these exact words, but in our family lore, this was his motto. When searching for a location for his tailor shop in Brooklyn, he would stand on street corners in order to gauge the number of pedestrians passing by at lunch time. Years later, when he built a hotel in the Catskill Mountains, he made sure we had three post-office addresses, in Liberty, Ferndale and Loch Sheldrake, in an effort to make sure that no letter sent by a prospective client was returned to sender.

Researchers and scholars are similarly interested in making it easy for the public to find their writing. They have long sought out high-visibility journals and prestigious presses for their publications. Today, the routes to visibility are changing. Posting research online increasingly represents an important complement to the traditional route of publishing. Online accessibility usually does not impinge on the ability to publish the material in a journal, although it is important to check the journal policies.

There are a variety of venues for posting online, including your own homepage. The Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN) is hosting an open access subject matter repository — the Work and Family Commons (WFC), which is being watched with interest by information science professionals. Documents in this repository will be accessible by anyone with internet access, and will be searchable by Google and other browsers.

By featuring an extensive collection of materials related to work and family issues, the WFC becomes a go-to destination for those seeking the latest and most authoritative research in this area. This builds on the successful history of the Sloan Work and Family Research Network. Currently, this website garners some 50,000 page views per month, in no small part because of the 12,000 citations and reports compiled over the last decade. In my own research, I have found that searches on the Sloan Network Literature Database have fewer irrelevant items and a larger share of materials pertinent to my inquiries, compared with general internet or library searches.

Going forward, we anticipate that the WFC will build on this legacy. Compared to the Sloan Literature Database, the WFC will have expanded capabilities. In addition to the citations from the former Sloan Network Literature Database, full-text versions of articles submitted by authors also will be available. Work and family scholarship will be just a mouse-click away – but this goal will only be realized if we all deposit our research to this site. In other words, this will be a community-driven repository; we will not have a library staff to cull relevant work and family articles for us.

So the big question, how long did it take for me to gather these materials for a special prelaunch opportunity with the WFC?   I collected post prints of my own journal articles and first chapters of my books for uploading to the WFC as part of an effort to populate it with entries prior to launch. It did not take long – much less time than it took to set up the research section of my own homepage. Going forward, we have endeavored to make the process as simple and easy as possible.  And, after you have done this once, we hope that you will make submitting to the WFC a routine part of your efforts to circulate your new research.

We are excited about the launch of the WFC later this fall.  We realize that the process of depositing materials to the Work and Family Commons will be unfamiliar for some users. We will have detailed instructions on our website and will create a tutorial that provides additional guidance. We will sponsor workshops about open access and depositing to the WFC at the June 2012 WFRN conference.