June 16, 2021Melanie Schlosser
Transitions is an occasional series where community members reflect on the things they have learned while moving from one institution to another or one role to another.
By Monica Westin, Google Scholar partnerships lead / technical program manager
In the spring of 2014, I left a PhD program in classical rhetoric to try out a career in scholarly communication. I was immediately hooked by what I saw as unsolved problems in the ecosystem and the potential impact of making academic research easier to access. Except for a brief stint at HighWire Press, I spent the following four years in the institutional repository and library publishing space, first at bepress and then at CDL’s eScholarship, the University of California’s system-wide repository and publishing platform.
One Monday in November 2018, three days after leaving my job as publications manager for the library publishing program at the CDL, I started a new role as the program manager for partnerships at Google Scholar. The past two and a half years have been eye-opening.
I have three strong memories from my first week. The first is knowing I had made the right decision to take the job when my new boss, Google Scholar co-founder and director Anurag Acharya, described the mission of Scholar to me in our first meeting: that “no matter the accident of your birth,” he told me, you should be able to know about all the papers written in any research field you might want to enter. What you did with that knowledge was up to you.
My second memory is the expression on Anurag’s face when I admitted I didn’t really understand what robots.txt instructions did. “Goal: be more technical!” I wrote in my notebook that afternoon after spending hours looking up basic web indexing protocol information on Wikipedia. I don’t think he looked quite as disappointed as I remember, but I knew that I could no longer get away with not knowing how things worked.