As Katherine mentioned, I’m the Journals Marketing Manager at the MIT Press where I’ve been for the last seven years. I am not an expert in data, I do not have a professional background in information, but my department is looking at altmetrics regularly and doing things with it. These things have been useful to the MIT Press and they could be useful to other university presses, and so I’d love to share them with you.
Show of hands: How many of you are looking at altmetrics data on your publications? How many of you are making decisions and shaping your work based upon that data? How many of you are Journals people?
The hands in this room match my impression is that there are various degrees of understanding and usage of altmetrics by the university press community. I did a small survey in preparation for this panel, and no one I spoke with claimed to be looking at altmetrics. Why should we care about altmetrics as publishers? As for institutions and sponsors, and other organizations that make financial contributions to the scholarly community, it’s important and uplifting for a Press to see the impact of its content; it’s useful to see how investments are spreading and that can help you decide where/when/if to make new investments.
I will just briefly review here what bits of data are considered altmetrics [impact means different things to different people]. It is a new field, and there is steering group working to establish a set of standards and definitions to allow people to speak about and grow altmetrics. Altmetrics are a very broad group of metrics, capturing various parts of impact a paper or work can have. A classification of altmetrics was proposed by ImpactStory in September 2012, and a very similar classification is used by the Public Library of Science:
Viewed - HTML views and PDF downloads [via your platform provider and aggregators] Discussed - journal comments, science blogs, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook and other social media [via GA, hootsuite, smedia-own reporting] Saved - Mendeley, CiteULike and other social bookmarks [via tools directly, Altmetric.com, PlumAnalytics] Cited - citations in the scholarly literature, tracked by Web of Science, Scopus, CrossRef and others Recommended - for example used by F1000Prime
How can a university press can use altmetrics data beyond just looking at it and saying “oh, that’s interesting”. [and/or “I wish I had time to do something with that interesting information” “I wish I had time to think about this and figure out if this is interesting information”]
The major obstacles are all under the same umbrella: time (time especially at the beginning, as there is a learning curve to familiarizing yourself with the tools that produce the data.), Manpower resources (financial or skill sets)
My JMKTG department is 3 and a third persons, including myself, one of which does design work exclusively. The remaining 2 and a third persons can sometimes look at data for a hour or two per week. I do not know of any U.P. that has a dedicated person looking at data (though I would love to talk to such a person if he or she exists).
All this to say, if you think this data is important, and until altmetrics becomes more commonly used across the scholarly community, you’ve got to figure out how to get at it by your own means.
So as I mentioned, lots of data can be gathered in lots of ways and can look very different to you, one bit of data from another. What information is meaningful to you? If you’re new to the game and are trying to shape some sort of program for digesting the data, my suggestion is to be open…
We asked ourselves those types of questions at MIT. We learned that: What’s being shared and talked about is not necessarily what has the highest sales or subscription numbers. Academics are reading/bookmarking/sharing what we expect (JOCN, ISEC, REST), general readership sails off in unpredictable directions (Reddit.com, metafilter)
We learned these things that were true about our own business and then the next question was, so what? Can I DO something with that? Should I do something with that? Yes and yes.
We at MIT have done things with that information. Just a few hours per week of looking at data has provided the MIT Press with many benefits.
[we’ve increased] STAFF AWARENESS: We have a semi-monthly newsletter called “Journals in the News” that goes out to the entire staff of the MIT Press to show the penetration of our content and provide some bragging time. Does not need to be as formal; periodic, brief, all-staff e-mails are also effective in showing employees the influence of their work beyond the walls of your press’ offices. SALES REPS: Not all of our journals fall under the “trade umbrella” but providing information on web and media coverage provides guidance for our sales reps on what markets might be interested in a particular journal. DEVOTE RESOURCES: Seeing what portions of our website are popular, or how quickly content is shared (at just accepted, early access, publication) can help prioritize where to spend money on site revisions, improvements (One of the easiest things to see on GA is page views, time spent on page, etc.). MKTG DIRECTION: Data can identify content that is trending or waning, suggest outlets for appropriate advertising, help identify new markets/readership. REPORTING: Half of our journals are owned by a sponsoring body, an association or society. We send reports at least annually outlining the efforts undertaken by the MIT Press and the quantifiable results of those efforts. Altmetrics data has recently been added to provide a clearer picture of journal impact.
And perhaps the most significant benefit (at least the most visible) is the creation of our new program BATCHES. Some of you may have heard about this program launched just a month ago.
Annual retreat, nice to expand our presence in the ereader market, how can we acknowledge what is trending with our readers and give them more. Identify and respond to reader appetites in a timely manner. We can do that with altmetrics.
For BATCHES, we identify themes that are spiking in popularity, drop into our online catalog to see what sort of already published content we have that matches that theme, and then we turn to our journal editors who curate a final set of 6-10 articles. Editors also compose an introduction talking about the importance of that theme to the journal and its field. We convert those articles to EPUB and are selling them for the Kindle at a price of $6.99. Harness the flow of user data and the speed of electronic publication.
These are our first three Batches…
Some odds and ends about the program: Originally planned Kindle and NOOK, but Kindle-only allowed for inclusion in the Kindle Direct Publishing program, which let’s us do fancy things like offer sale pricing, coupons, etc.. EOs are flattered, very interested to participate.
Very favorable review from Inside Higher Ed: The batches are “attractive and sensibly designed” “the collections hang together better than compilations often do”
Our next three batches, coming out in July are here… ALL THEMES (and truly the entire BATCHES program) WERE INSPIRED BY ALTMETRICS
MITP to engage in trial program with Plum Analytics
Up to this point, altmetrics have focused on journal content, but more altmetrics providers have begun to process book content, data sets, etc., so spending time and money on data review could arguably be beneficial for an entire press, not just a journals division.
Journals Marketing Manager
The MIT Press
WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THAT DATA
2. • Who is using
• Why do we care?
3. Altmetrics are:
4. • Time
5. • Be open when reviewing
• Be open when brainstorming
• Does this match my
• What is unusual?
• What could I never have
predicted in a million years?
• What doesn’t concern me?
6. • Staff awareness
• Guidance for external
• Cues of where to devote
• Direction for marketing
• Enhancement of annual
reporting to sponsoring
Themes picked by our readers,
curated by authoritative voices,
and bundled for immediate download.
9. • Within the MIT Press
• Altmetrics as a whole