Achieving better visibility

Although the product of a massive amount of work, doctoral theses only rarely garner interest among the general public. With OpenD, you can use your publication to increase your own visibility. We asked some of our initial users for their opinions.
Scott Trento via Unsplash

Hello readers, we’d like to introduce you to Leo. Leo is a climate researcher who completed his PhD at the Institute for Oceanography at the University of Hamburg. He has been living in Paris for several months and will be working on a climate forecasting system for the next two years. He wrote his dissertation on the predictability of European surface temperatures up to ten years in the future.

Hannah Pöhlmann
Redakteurin

Leo, you re-published your dissertation with us. Why did you decide to do so?

Leonard Friedrich Borchert
Gastautor

Dissertations take an insane amount of work. Nevertheless, after they are published by an academic publisher or library, they usually land in a drawer and no one ever really looks at them again. I wanted to avoid that fate for my dissertation. OpenD gives my dissertation its own online presence, reducing the danger that it will be forgotten. It also gives me the opportunity to add explanations to my dissertation for people who are not as well versed in the topic as I am. Since science should ultimately serve society, I think the transparency OpenD offers me and my dissertation is particularly important.

Hannah Pöhlmann
Redakteurin

Did publishing with us give you the advantages you hoped for?

Leonard Friedrich Borchert
Gastautor

It is difficult to tell whether my dissertation will be more attractive or read by more people over the long term; after all, it has not been online for long. However, I think that the graphics and content supplemented by OpenD have been a wonderful addition to my work, and that my dissertation now has the potential to be received positively by a broader audience over a longer period of time. As for the rest, only time will tell...

Hannah Pöhlmann
Redakteurin

You started the Let’s Talk project with friends to support doctoral students. You are also a consulting member of the N² network of German PhD students. Why do you think doctoral students need more support?*

Leonard Friedrich Borchert
Gastautor

Because doctoral students are all the way at the bottom of the academic hierarchy. In addition, they are usually in a really unusual, doubly dependent relationship: their adviser may essentially have complete freedom to make decisions regarding their economic and professional futures. This is the case first because PhD students usually conclude their employment contracts—if they even have them—with their advisers, and second because influential doctoral advisers can ruin your career with very little effort at all. Through the N² network, we are fighting for the rights of doctoral students to solve these and other problems, improve the situation for PhD candidates, and make research itself more attractive for young, talented professionals. Ultimately, we are also working to improve research organisations themselves, some of which are still trapped in outdated structures.
The “Let’s Talk” project grew out of a very simple idea: Many of the problems that can come up during a PhD programme can be solved by networks. Unfortunately, not all doctoral students have these networks, sometimes because they are drowning in work, and sometimes because they have only recently arrived at an institution or a city. We want “Let’s Talk” to serve as a platform for these people to get in touch with experienced doctoral students and talk about their problems or just express their frustration—even anonymously, if they want. Often, this can be the first step towards making an improvement. In addition, people who are thinking about doing a PhD can contact us for help choosing an adviser or a project.

Hannah Pöhlmann
Redakteurin

You also serve on our advisory board. Is there anything you want to say about OpenD? Do you have suggestions for ways we can improve?

Leonard Friedrich Borchert
Gastautor

There is one thing I would like to address that I have noticed frequently: Around 50% of doctoral candidates are international, at least at large, non-university-based research institutions like the Max Planck Society or the Helmholtz or Leibniz Societies. An English-language version of OpenD would give them the opportunity to publish with you as well. This would also give dissertations published on OpenD much more international visibility.

Hannah Pöhlmann
Redakteurin

That is very good feedback. Thank you very much, Leo. We are actually working on an international section right now.
We wish you all the best, and send our greetings to Paris. Bonne journée!

 

 

 

* Want to learn more about this project? Read the interview with the initiators of “Let’s Talk” here.