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Is there any good reason not for me to put semiformal publications on my website?

I have all my published works under publications (well actually just in a list on my front page, but it should be apparent that they are publications. It also has my PhD project proposal, because that is a formal document.

Contrasting this, sometime I find myself producing less formal documents.

For example, after I was given access to some expensive software under a free license, on of the parties involved in negotiating, requested that I do a "short case study, once I have preliminary results." So I have this, a document that took me a few hours to write up, and which I think is quiet nice. Its not a formal document and is more approachable to people outside my field, than any paper I would write.

I also sometimes find myself writing some very detailed notes, perhaps a mathematical, or a metaphorical description of something i need to explain to my supervisors.

It seems a bit of a waste to let these just collect dust after just a few people have seen them. But they are not generally worthy of publication. I feel like they might be interesting to others.

I thought perhaps I could make part of my website labeled "Non-publications", and put the pdfs there.

What would the cons/risks be?

So far my main concern that I have thought is that it might make me look bad by making available, less than perfect work. Some of these may lack suitable referencing for example.

I expect the pitfalls would in someway be similar to academic blogging. But perhaps different, as a blog post is a very well-known format, and are written for the audience that reads them. Where as I'm talking about documents that are presented without context. Google will still find them. Google scholar will (based on past experience) find them and attempt to affiliate them to me.

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I see very little danger in putting those documents onto your website, and indeed I encourage my students to upload everything they produce and that may be of any value. My line of thinking is that we are after all paid by taxpayer money, so it seems only fair to make as much of what we do available in some way if possible.

Of course, the elephant in the room is how those "others interested in this work" will actually find your notes if you just upload them to your website as PDFs ...

What would the cons/risks be? So far my main concern that I have thought is that it might make me look bad by making available, less than perfect work. Some of these may lack suitable referencing for example.

I do not think that there is a real danger in "looking bad" as long as it is clear that whatever you upload there is just quick, informal work (and, of course, as long as the work does not contain, e.g., hate speech, but I guess this goes without saying). Lacking suitable referencing may be a more real problem, and I would likely put in the few extra minutes to add appropriate attributions for every text that I put online somewhere. However, even if you decide not to do this, it is very unlikely that somebody down the road would get agitated over not being properly cited in a document called "Some Informal Notes on [A]". The key here is that you make clear that this is not a preprint of a paper or even a technical report in the traditional sense, but "only" an informal note. Hence, it should be clear that the content isn't meant as a scientific publication. This should alleviate most concerns that you are passing off other's work as your own.

  • Google indexes PDFs. So presumably someone will find my "A case study on the virtues of bicycles contrasted with aircraft" pdf, by entering it in google "Bikes vs Planes". That said PDFs are unfiendly on PC, and often its not too hard to convert them to Markdown for putting on my site. Do you think it is worth it? – Lyndon White Feb 18 '16 at 10:52
  • @Oxinabox How often do you read random PDFs when googling things? Yes, it is indexed, but I would not overestimate the discoverability of your PDF notes via Google ... – xLeitix Feb 18 '16 at 12:25

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