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Research Access and Discovery in University News Releases: A Case Study
INTRODUCTION Many universities promote the peer-reviewed articles of their researchers in online news releases. However, access to the articles by the public can be limited, and information for locating articles is sometimes lacking. This exploratory study quantifies article access, the potential for immediate article archiving, and the presence of discovery aids in news releases at a large research university. METHODS A random sample of 120 news releases over an 11-year period were evaluated. RESULTS At publication, 33% of the peer-reviewed articles mentioned in news releases were open access. Immediate archiving in the institutional repository could potentially raise the access rate to 58% of the articles. Discovery aids in news releases included journal titles (96%), hyperlinks (67%), article titles (44%), and full citations (3%). No hyperlink was in the form of a referenceable digital object identifier (DOI). DISCUSSION Article availability is greater than published estimates, and could result from the university’s STEM focus or self-selection. Delayed access by journals is a significant source of availability, and provides an additional rationale for hyperlinking from news releases. CONCLUSION Most articles promoted in the university’s news releases cannot be accessed by the public. Access could be significantly increased through immediate archiving in the institutional repository. Opportunities for facilitating article discovery could increase the credibility and outreach value of news releases.