Today, our blog celebrates its first anniversary. It was exactly a year ago, on August 23 2018, that we published our first post, in which we introduced the official blog of the Journal of Vegetation Science (JVS) and Applied Vegetation Science (AVS), two journals produced by the International Association of Vegetation Science (IAVS). Thanks to the contributions by our JVS-AVS authors, we have been able to publish 20 short Plain Language Summaries, five longer Behind the Paper posts, 22 Editorial News, and one post each in the category Link to Elsewhere and Comments. We maintain accounts on Facebook (through the IAVS group) and Twitter (@jvsavsblog – follow us!) to distribute news on blog posts. Learn more below about how our blog has been doing, how our editorial workflow works, and what things will likely change in the future.
According to Google Analytics, which is spying on our website, the blog was viewed 8400 times during the last year (i.e. the number of page views) by more than 4000 unique visitors, from which about 15% were returning visitors (they visited the blog more than once). Visitors came from 100 countries across the world, with the ten most-represented countries (in decreasing order) being China (22% of visitors), the U.S. (11%), Germany (5%), the U.K. (5%), Brazil (5%), Italy (4%), Canada (4%), Australia (3%), Hungary (3%) and Czechia (3%). Average view time of the post was almost three minutes, but this is an average – some posts have a view time longer than 20 minutes, which means they have perhaps been thoroughly read. Some posts have been viewed for just a few seconds, meaning that the reader saw the image and left. The bounce rate (how likely the visitor, who just landed on the website, is going to leave without any further interaction) is currently at 76% (these visitors may have read the post, bud did not click any further, or they may even not read the post at all). More than 42% of page views happened after clicking on a Facebook or Twitter post, which highlights the importance of social media for reaching our readership. Another 42% of visitors were direct viewers (the visitor typed the address into their browser, or maybe copied it from an email), 9% came from organic search (i.e. from Google, Bing or other search engines), and 6% were from referrals (links to our blog on other websites, such as www.iavs.org). More visitors are reading the posts on mobile devices (53%) then PC (46%) and tablets (2%).
How many readers see a JVS-AVS blog post on average? This depends on when the post was published (i.e. how old it is – older posts accumulate more views), how well the information about it spreads and, of course, how interesting and attractive the post is. The average post gets 0.77 clicks per day (77 clicks in 100 days), but again, this is an average – some posts get more, some less. The highest number of reads comes within the first few days after the post was published and after we share it on social media. The post with the highest number of views (if we leave out the post with an exceptionally high number of visits in a single day from China) received 250 views in eight months. We hope that once our blog gets more established, the number of readers will steadily grow.
These are some statistics, which we use to understand the behaviour of the blog audience. Note, however, that average yearly metrics may be misleading because they lump and average together things which may have a rather different background or meaning. For example, according to aggregated statistics, 22% of page views are by visitors from China. Detailed analysis, however, shows that more than half of these were visitors of a single Behind the Paper post published by Chinese authors, who shared it on WeChat (a Chinese social platform, with popularity in China similar to Facebook) and attracted almost 600 page views within just a single day (!).
Our standard editorial work looks like the following. In the acceptance letter, the Editorial office of JVS and AVS notifies authors of accepted papers about the possibility of writing a blog post. Unfortunately, most authors ignore this note (we understand that after the acceptance there are more important things to do than to write a blog post). Approximately once per month, we therefore follow up with personal invitation emails to authors of recently accepted or published papers to consider writing a blog post. This is usually when some authors decide to send the first draft of the post. The receiving editor (currently David Zelený) will read each post, and decide whether it needs to go for language proofreading (to Viktoria Wagner or Peter Minchin), it should be returned to authors for reworking, or can be directly accepted and typeset. We may need to return the post, for example in the case that the plain language summary still contains too many technical terms which are not known to the broader audience. Another reason for revision could be that the authors did not follow our Author’s Guidelines, and the post is missing some important information (like photo credits, names of all authors, etc.). After some back and forth, we typeset the post, send the final proofs to the author, and then post it online. Usually, the post is published online within a week or two after submission, sometimes much faster, sometimes a bit slower (especially if it needs extensive language editing). After publishing the post online, we also share it on Facebook and by Twitter. Readers can also subscribe to our blog notifications by submitting an email directly via the blog website.
In the upcoming year, we plan to make several changes. Perhaps the most significant change will be the inclusion of blog posts for Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS, https://vcs.pensoft.net/). This is the third vegetation journal published by IAVS, and is focused on vegetation survey and classification at any organisational and spatial scale and without restrictions to certain methodological approaches. Although for now we will keep using the original domain name www.vegsciblog.org, once we include also contributions from VCS, we will consider changing the name into something more inclusive, acknowledging cooperation with all three vegetation journals.
Call for contributions
Did you get a paper accepted in JVS, AVS or the new VCS journal? Consider writing a post about it. You don’t need to be the leading author to submit a draft (but it is important that you make a deal in your team about who will take care of the writing). Preparing the blog post does not require a special skill. You can have a look at some previous posts in our Archive page to see how it may look, and then check our Authors Guidelines for requirements. An example of a requirement is that you use the prepared Word templates for the post, which greatly helps us with editing, because it makes sure the post contains all necessary information. Most of the posts we receive are short Plain Language Summaries, which are good to spread awareness about the paper among our non-scientific audience. We greatly encourage authors to write also longer and more elaborated Behind the Paper posts, or even record a commented video. The core idea is to offer authors a platform to advertise their work in JVS/AVS/VCS, possibly also with a link to their personal homepages, where applicable. In the era of social media, we want to assist you in spreading the word about your publication.
And finally, we would like to thank all authors for their contributions. We are looking forward to our second year!