If you’re a researcher you probably have an attachment to your current paper. After all, you nurture it like a baby, and those hypotheses are often easier to understand than real babies. It’s normal to be protective of your research. Having your research paper locked up in a word document on your computer will certainly keep it safe, but it isn’t doing you any good there.
Now is always the best time to share your research. There are a lot of reasons why people choose not to share early stage research, and those excuses become less credible every year. Research papers need to make their own way out in the world and with attentive authors guiding them there’s no telling where they might go: publication, masters of the universe … well, maybe not yet. Every paper starts somewhere. Let’s see if we can guess why you’re not sharing.
Most Common Excuses For Not Sharing Early Stage Research
1. “It’s not ready.”
The better way to phrase this is probably “It’s not complete”. It is ready. As the author you’re probably more self conscious of your work than you need to be. Most research and all research in the early stages is never a finished product. You can start facing some of the hurdles such as gauging interest in the topic, crowd-sourcing feedback, anticipating questions your paper will need to answer by sharing early. Sharing early isn’t about looking for approval. It’s about shaping the completed product into the most useful resource it can be.
2. “I’m still making updates.”
Of course you are! If research was ever done science probably would have stopped after the discovery of the sun as the center of the solar system. Even published papers sometimes need updates. We think authors should evolve their research while sharing drafts with a broad audience. SSRN allows multiple versions of a paper to be posted. Keeping these iterations together allows other researchers to cite your work while you continue to make revisions.
3. “I want to publish it later.”
Great research should be published. Early sharing doesn’t limit it. It allows you to market your paper as it was written to make it better and help get it published. Plus, you get a chance to be recognized earlier by journals and other publications. In fact, most major journals, even after taking copyright, allow sharing of preprint version of the paper.
4. “Someone will steal my idea.”
This excuse is unfounded. In fact, every hour you aren’t sharing your paper is a chance for another author to form a similar hypothesis. Once you share your early stage research you’ll have a date stamp proving when it was your idea. It’s hard to defend intellectual theft when a website proves your paper was there first.
Sharing your research is free and easy. Not to mention you can probably post your paper on SSRN in under ten minutes. A researcher’s life is stressful enough. Open those word docs and let your research speak for itself.
Scientific research is one of the most exciting and rewarding of occupations. -Frederick Sanger
If you already share early stage research, which problems does it solve for you?
Still avoiding the preprint servers? Tell us why on Twitter @SSRN.