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Working papers provide students and scholars access to cutting-edge research in their field – often years before it’s published

A post in the What Researchers Need series.

While traditional peer-reviewed journal content remains an essential source of information for researchers, a recent ProQuest survey indicates that research and teaching is informed by a diverse mix of content types.

One of the most valued content types was working papers, used by 70% of the 410 researchers around the world who responded to our survey. The importance of working papers is not lost on lecturers, either. An even greater number of them – 77% – recommend working papers to student researchers.

Why are working papers in demand?  

Working papers often contain the very latest research in a field. Because they have not gone through the peer-review process of journal articles – which can take 2 or 3 years – working papers can deliver the most cutting-edge information to researchers. Having access to the most recent developments can be crucial to researchers in many disciplines.

Indexing on the ProQuest platform makes this content easily discoverable. A researcher can search for a specific paper or topic, or they might find a working paper in a search for related content. This kind of serendipitous discovery can inspire deeper research insights, open valuable new avenues of scholarly exploration, or help researchers avoid duplicating existing research.

Additionally, the content of a paper might reappear as an article in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal years after initial publication as a working paper. For example, this article was published in the American Journal of Public Health in August 2016, but a working paper based on this research could be found on IDEAS working papers repository as early as 2014. 

Examples of recent working papers that can be found via ProQuest

Political elections and uncertainty - Are BRICS markets equally exposed to Trump’s agenda?
Jamal Bouoiyour and Refk Selmi.

The Costs and Benefits of Leaving the EU: Trade Effects
Swati Dhingra, Hanwei Huang, Gianmarco Ottaviano, João Paulo Pessoa, Thomas Sampson and John Van Reenen

The economics of German unification after twenty-five years: Lessons for Korea
Michael C. Burda and Mark Weder

The importance of a making diverse content accessible

Working papers are not the only content type that allows researchers to see the very latest thinking in their field. Dissertations and conference proceedings also showcase scholarly work, and were used by 73% and 69% of respondents respectively. Blog posts are also growing in importance, 61% of respondents say that they use blogs, compared to only 37% in 2015 – one of the most significant differences between our 2015 and 2017 surveys.

Find out more about the survey results and learn about the changing information needs of researchers.

07 Nov 2017

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