Expanding the Visibility of WFO’s Publications



Anniversary Issue

Members of this organization are aware of the importance of the content of our flagship journal Western Birds (now in its 53rd volume) and our special publications, including the Studies of Western Birds series. These publications have much to offer to researchers as well as those more casually interested in bird biology.

In this day and age, researchers want publications at their fingertips, and nearly all use search engines such as Google Scholar to find relevant research. It has become clear that content in Western Birds, despite its open access policy, and Studies of Western Birds is usually not showing up in routine Google Scholar searches. Our visibility in other search engines also lags behind. Recognizing this as a problem, our editor Phil Unitt, web designer Tim Brittain, and consultant Todd Benton have been working hard to find ways to increase our visibility, or what in today’s jargon is called search engine optimization (SEO). And it turns out to be incredibly complex, involving the ways PDFs of papers are tagged on the website, whether there are abstracts (there are for Western Birds papers, but not for shorter notes), and legions of other minutiae.

Issue devoted to the California Gnatcatcher.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Phil, Tim, and Todd for the work they’ve been doing. Phil has interviewed several library science specialists at his San Diego Natural History Museum and elsewhere, and all three of these WFO stalwarts have been researching what needs to be done to optimize searches. It is possible, perhaps likely, that a lot of rote work will need to be done to properly tag content and otherwise conform to the requirements of Google Scholar and other search engines. We solicit input from our members: first, from anybody aware of the intricacies of SEO and scientific publication who might have ideas on ways to smooth our path toward higher visibility; and second, from anybody who might have time to volunteer to make the hundreds of minor necessary changes (no experience necessary—detailed workflows would be provided). In the meantime, know that you can find all Western Birds content on our website.

—Kimball Garrett, Publications Committee chair

Leave a Reply


  1. April 17, 2022

    Kimball,
    I can help. I do not know SEO, but I have extensive experience with database searches, SQL, relational databases, and manipulating spreadsheets like Excel. For WFO, I cross-checked the print copy of RARE BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA when it was released digitally.. I’ve worked with geophysics journals. I can help with the grunt work too.

    Kathanne Lynch
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    WFO Life Member
    kathannelynch3@gmail.com

    1. Kathanne–Thanks for your comment and offer to help. I emailed Kimball to let him know.–Judith Dunham, e-News editor