Making your publications more visible

Following best practice will help researchers, tools and the public find your publications

To make sure your publications are properly indexed by Overton and other search indexes like Google Scholar it is important to follow web publishing best practice wherever possible.

For a publication to be indexed correctly Overton needs at least a title and a publication date. If you have publication landing pages please make sure that it is listed on each, preferably in a machine readable way (see below).

Ideally download links should be formatted differently to the rest of the page’s contents. It is very hard for us to pull out links to report PDFs when they are mixed in with explanatory text: consider styling the PDF download link as a button or pulling it out to display in a sidebar. Please do contact us if you’d like us to look at your site and give some suggestions.

Add machine readable metadata

The most important thing you can do to support search and indexing engines is to make sure there’s a “machine readable” version of the metadata – e.g. the title, description and publication date – of each publication available.

The standard way to do this is with <meta> tags on each publication landing page. These tags aren’t visible to humans visiting the website but they’re the first thing that apps and search engines look for.

Meta tags look like:

<meta property="og:title" content="Sierra Leone Country Brief">
<meta property="article:published_time" content="2017-06-16T16:58:15-04:00">

Each has two parts: the “property” (what does the metatag describe?) and “content” (the actual description).

Here the og:title property is the title of the publication (“Sierra Leone Country Brief”) and article:published_time is the date of publication (16th June 2017). You can find a list of important property names and what they should contain below.

Properties supported by Overton

There’s no one standard for which properties to include and what they should contain, but the vast majority of websites use one or more of the sets below – it’s fine (even encouraged) to have multiple sets on the same page.

Overton requires at least a title and publication date. We prefer the citation set (which is also used by Google Scholar) but any will do.

The most useful <meta> tag you could add beyond title and date is citation_pdf_url, this makes it much, much easier for us to find PDF downloads for your publications.

Citation set (used by Google Scholar)

You can find more detailed information on adding these meta tags on the Google Scholar website.

citation_titleTitle of publication
citation_doiDOI of the publication (if one exists)
citation_isbnISBN of the publication (if one exists)
citation_pdf_urlDirect link to the publication PDF
citation_abstractDescription of publication
citation_authorName of author (one author per tag)
citation_publication_dateDate of publication

Open Graph set (used by Facebook sharing)

og:titleTitle of the publication
og:descriptionDescription of the publication
og:publishedPublication date

Dublin Core set (used by web crawlers)

dcterms.titleTitle of publication
dcterms.descriptionDescription of publication
dcterms.creatorName of author (one author per tag)
dcterms.createdDate of publication

Article set (used by web crawlers)

article:published_timeDate of publication

Ensure publications are open

Overton only reads publicly available pages – if you require an email address or a login to access publications then we won’t be able to read them.

Please contact us if this is an issue: it may be possible for us to collect publications via a different route.

Support visiting specific pages of publication lists

If your organization has more than one page of publications make sure that it’s possible to visit each one directly.

Usually this is only an issue if your website has “show more” type buttons to load more publications as you scroll.

If you can copy and paste the link from your browser’s address bar to get back to a specific page of results then you’re all set.

If the browser address bar doesn’t change when you load more items then this may cause problems for Overton (and be affecting the accessibility of your site more broadly).

Use semantic mark-up

Semantic markup is a way of writing and structuring your HTML so that it reinforces the semantics, or meaning, of the content rather than its appearance.

Some content management systems are better at this than others. If you develop your own web pages, then the mark-up that Overton finds the most useful is:

“rel” attributesWe look for these in pagination controls (rel=”next”) and for author names on publication pages (rel=”author”).
<time>When displaying publication dates please use the <time> tag rather than free text.
<article> and <header>On publication lists please consider wrapping each item in a separate <article> tag.On publication landing pages consider also wrapping the item title, date etc. in a <header> element to keep it distinct from the actual publication content.
Updated on February 9, 2024

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