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Joining the ‘buzz’ : the role of social media in raising research visibility


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Traditional bibliometric methods of evaluating academic research, such as journal impact factors and article citations, have been supplemented in the past 5-10 years by the development of altmetrics (alternative metrics or article level metrics). Altmetrics measures impact of research, data and publications, such as references in data and knowledge bases, article views, downloads and mentions in social media and news media. This presentation gives a brief background to altmetrics and demonstrates how Rhodes University librarians are using social media to raise the visibility of the research output of their institution. (Rhodes University is in Grahamstown, South Africa)

Published in: Social Media

Joining the ‘buzz’ : the role of social media in raising research visibility

  1. 1. 1 Joining the ‘buzz’ : the role of social media in raising research visibility 1 Eileen Shepherd Principal Librarian Faculty Liaison Services (Science & Pharmacy) Rhodes University Library Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa 25/09/2014
  2. 2. 2 This presentation endeavours o to provide a brief introduction to o to demonstrate how Rhodes librarians are using
  3. 3. 3 Background Traditional bibliometric methods of evaluating academic research have been supplemented in the past 5-6 years by the development of altmetrics (alternative metrics/article level metrics) “The creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship”
  4. 4. Citations, h-indices* and Journal Impact Factors** *a scholar with an h-index of 18 has published 18 papers each of which has been cited in other papers at least 18 times **In any given year, the impact factor of a journal is the average number of citations received per paper published in that journal during the two preceding years Traditional bibliometric tools 4
  5. 5. Increasing variety of online references to research and of tools for sharing research… need for new tools to measure and understand research impact and the ways in which research is communicated & shared via the Web Enter : altmetrics 5
  6. 6. 6 Do researchers use social media for research purposes? “Giant academic social networks have taken off to a degree that no one expected even a few years ago”. Asked how researchers used social networks and/or profile-hosting or search services Received: 3,500 responses from 95 countries Van Noorden, R., 2014. Online collaboration: Scientists and the social network. Nature, 512(7513), pp.126–129. Available at: 1.15711?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews
  7. 7. 7 Sites/networks in order of popularity with researchers (visit regularly) 61% 1% 12% 48% 8% 8% 12% 40% 38% 22% 4% 5%
  8. 8. 8 How do scholars use Twitter professionally? Reasons for using Twitter 330 regular users from 3500 person survey 49% Follow discussion 46% Post work 42% Discover papers 40% Discover peers 40% Comment on research 36% Share links to content From ‘Nature’ survey
  9. 9. 9 Origin of the term: altmetrics
  10. 10. 10 Why use altmetrics? “….tracking mentions of scholarly articles across [the] expanding online landscape could inform new, broader, faster measures of impact, complementing traditional citation metrics” Holbrook, J.B., Altmetrics in the Wild: Using Social Media to Explore Scholarly Impact – Available at: [Accessed September 2, 2014]
  11. 11. 11 Who is collecting and sharing altmetrics? Open-source, web-based tool that helps researchers explore and share the diverse impacts of all their research products Has created and maintains a cluster of servers that watch social media sites, newspapers, government policy documents and other sources for mentions of scholarly articles. Brings all the attention together to compile article level metrics Tracks more than 20 different types of artifacts, including journal articles, books, videos, presentations, conference proceedings, datasets, source code, cases, and more
  12. 12. 12 Example of altmetrics
  13. 13. 13 Use of Altmetric bookmarklet 13 Bookmarklet in toolbar Altmetric stats More details Get this bookmarklet for your toolbar
  14. 14. 14 More details – from previous slide
  15. 15. 15 Another example of Altmetric statistics for an article
  16. 16. 16 Demographics for ‘tweeeting’ of this article
  17. 17. 17 Altmetrics bookmarklet stats – another example
  18. 18. 18 Altmetric Explorer – free accounts for Librarians
  19. 19. 19 Social media mentions for articles in past month Enables librarians to monitor activity Using DOIs, in this example Altmetric is also available by subscription to Institutions Select perameters
  20. 20. 20 Another example: using keyword = coelacanth
  21. 21. 21 Altmetrics and publishers : e.g. Public Library of Science
  22. 22. 22 PLOS also takes account of altmetrics @RhodesResearch (and other) tweets are archived on PLOS
  23. 23. 23 More about
  24. 24. 24 Impressive support base
  25. 25. 25 Beyond the traditional
  26. 26. 26 Example of an ImpactStory profile Please encourage researchers to create a profile
  27. 27. 27 Rhodes University Library (RULibrary) What are we doing to raise research visibility? And why?
  28. 28. 28 Social media on the RU Library website
  29. 29. 1. @RhodesResearch Twitter account – articles & conference papers are ‘tweeted’ regularly 2. Subject-related Twitter accounts re-tweet information 3. Embedded subject-related Twitter accounts in Subject LibGuides – increase visibility 4. Subject blogs – monthly posting of research output with links to articles/papers 5. Rhodes Library Facebook & Twitter - advertise the above Rhodes Library: using social media to raise research visibility – how? 29
  30. 30. 30 1.@RhodesResearch :RULibrary Twitter account
  31. 31. Mainly from alerts to RU-affiliated research on: Some other sources: How is the research information sourced? 31 Web of Science Scopus SAePublications EBSCOhost ResearchGate • Academic Dept websites • Rhodes University website • GoogleScholar author alerts • Word of mouth
  32. 32. 32 Web of Science RU affiliated article alert Example of an email alert
  33. 33. 33 Article on publisher’s site Use the DOI in the Twitter link to the article
  34. 34. 34 Article is ‘tweeted’ on @RhodesResearch
  35. 35. 35 Publisher’s website – with “Share”options Sharing is facilitated by the fact that more and more publishers are including ‘share’ options at article-level – makes it so much easier
  36. 36. 36 ‘tweet’ - using suitable hashtags #RUZoo - example of standardised hashtag for academic departments Albany Museum #AlbanyMuseum Biochemistry #RUBiochem Biotech Innovation Centre (RUBIC) #RUBiotech Botany #RUBotany Chem #RUChem ComSci #RUComSci EBRU #RUEBRU Env Sci #RUEnvSci Geography #RUGeography Geology #RUGeology HKE #RUHKE IWR #RUIWR Maths #RUMaths Pharmacy #RUPharm Physics #RUPhysics Stats #RUStats Zoo #RUZoo #tags for RU Science Depts
  37. 37. 37 Why use hashtags? Showcasing Zoology Dept research: #RUZoo is used to retrieve all articles with this hashtag
  38. 38. 38 ‘tweet’ – with the judicious use of hashtags #
  39. 39. • RUAccountingNews • @RUBiochemNews • @RULMobileDevice • @RUEducationnews • @RUEnglishNews • @EnvSciNews • @RUFineArtNews • @RULgeog • @RULGeology • @RuRulis • @RULawLibrary1 • @RULPharmNews • @RULPhysicsNews • @RULpolitics • @sociologynews2 2. Subject-related RULibrary Twitter accounts 39
  40. 40. 40 Subject-related Twitter accounts – e.g. Pharmacy @RULPharmNews ‘Follows’ @RhodesResearch and then re-tweets relevant articles, thus providing extra exposure to RU research
  41. 41. 41 3. Embedded ‘tweets’ in the Pharmacy LibGuide These embedded tweets appear on the Pharmacy Twitter account where they have been ‘re-tweeted’ from @RhodesResearch
  42. 42. 42 4. Faculty blogs
  43. 43. 43 Faculty blogs: monthly list of publications Hyperlinks to articles
  44. 44. 44 5. Facebook post : link to list of RU publications on the Science & Pharmacy blog
  45. 45. 45 5. Twitter : again highlighting RU publications
  46. 46. Typically Sometimes Reaction from Rhodes community 46 • Polite interest • Mild interest • Total disinterest • Scepticism • Mild enthusiasm • Thanks for doing this • Retweeting • Contributing research links • Interest in using (Environmental Science Dept)
  47. 47. 47 What to do!
  48. 48. 48 Experiment 101 Fantastic Quotes About Marketing. Business Insider. Available at: [Accessed September 22, 2014]. Resulted in some interesting responses from academics
  49. 49. 49 Alerting researchers to the use of Twitter to raise their research profiles From: Eileen Shepherd [] Sent: 11 September 2014 11:16 AM To: ……………………………………… Subject: Crisis! What Crisis? The Multiple Dimensions of the Zimbabwean Crisis Hi ……………….. Thought you might like to see your article is featured on @RhodesResearch regards Eileen
  50. 50. 50 Response from historian From: ……………………………………. Sent: 11 September 2014 11:20 AM To: 'Eileen Shepherd' Subject: RE: Crisis! What Crisis? The Multiple Dimensions of the Zimbabwean Crisis Wow, thank you. Very innovative of you guys. Keep it up. From: Eileen Shepherd [] Sent: 11 September 2014 11:16 AM To:……………………….. Subject: Crisis! What Crisis? The Multiple Dimensions of the Zimbabwean Crisis Hi ……………………. Thought you might like to see your article is featured on @RhodesResearch Regards Eileen
  51. 51. 51 Another example, with response: Chemist From: …………………. Sent: 28 August 2014 04:59 PM To: Eileen Shepherd Subject: Re: MRSA pyruvate kinase inhibitory activity of synthetically derived thiazole containing deoxytopsentin analogues Thanks so much Eileen, this is quite exciting! Kind Regards, ……………… On Thu, 2014-08-28 at 11:57 +0200, Eileen Shepherd wrote: > Hi ……………………. > > Thought you might like to know your article is featured on > @RhodesResearch >
  52. 52. 52 Some researchers are sending their papers for inclusion From: ……………. Sent: 18 September 2014 05:09 PM To: Eileen Shepherd Subject: another Rhodes paper No doubt this will show up in your regular searches: 2164/15/752 -- [researcher in] ………………………….. Dept of Computer Science, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
  53. 53. 53 The personal touch
  54. 54. 54 So what!
  55. 55. 55 “followers” and “re-tweeters”? “The retweet is one of the most commonly used tools on Twitter, and is a great way to pass on interesting tweets that you have read with your followers.”
  56. 56. 56 Interest in @RhodesResearch • 270 followers • Fair number are Rhodes students • A few Rhodes University academics • 77 re-tweets • Many professional/research organisations
  57. 57. 57 Examples of @RhodesResearch ‘followers’ and/or‘retweeters’ 57 @CSIR @ResearchAfrica @SAYAS_SA South African Young Academy of Science 50/50 (TV programme) AcademyofScienceSA ACEP (African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme) Ageing and Society (USA) Exploring issues of aging… Bio-Resource Center scientific resources and networking
  58. 58. 58 Examples of @RhodesResearch ‘followers’ and/or‘retweeters’ 58 Brock Bersaglio PhD Geography, Univ of Toronto CanadianScience Pub CG Publishing (USA) academic publishing house Dalton Transactions (RSC Chemistry journal) Dennis A V Dittrich (German economics Prof.) EduCentralResearchSA ELIDZ STP R&D facilities
  59. 59. 59 Examples of @RhodesResearch ‘followers’ and/or‘retweeters’ 59 Ezemvelo Science KZN Wildlife Flashmob Science (popular science site UK/SA) HSP70 Resource Guide @ISSF Kareproducts (ergonomics company) MDPI – (publisher) Mine Closure 2014: 9th International Conference… MY Angra Pequena (research yacht – W Indian Ocean)
  60. 60. 60 Examples of @RhodesResearch ‘retweeters’ 60 Rhodes Journalism and Media Studies Sarah Wild Mail &Guardian Science editor SciBraai – (Science in SA) @SAStats The Learner (USA) To foster inquiry, invite dialogue… WomenInScienceSA Yvonne Perrie (Prof:Drug Delivery, Aston Univ.)
  61. 61. • Is it worth continuing? • Yes • Enhanced engagement with research & researchers • Time-consuming • An added dimension to job responsibilities • But interesting • And stimulating Finally, some reflections regarding @RhodesResearch 61
  62. 62. “Altmetrics are a natural extension of what libraries and librarians already do” “Knowledge of altmetrics is central to the role of an academic librarian” Altmetrics – should librarians be involved? 62 • Connecting people with information • Usage stats • Tracking user behaviour • Spotting trends • Help researchers understand & manipulate impact • Researcher support – funding, promotion, etc.
  63. 63. 63 Useful references Anon, Open Science & Altmetrics Monthly Roundup (June 2014). Impactstory blog. Arildsen, Thomas.. Altmetrics – fancy feature or peer review’s successor? Open Science. feature-or-peer-reviews-successor/ Bik, H.M. & Goldstein, M.C., 2013. An Introduction to Social Media for Scientists. PLoS Biol, 11(4), p.e1001535. Holbrook, J.B., Altmetrics in the Wild: Using Social Media to Explore Scholarly Impact – Lapinski, S., Piwowar, H. & Priem, J., 2013. Riding the crest of the altmetrics wave How librarians can help prepare faculty for the next generation of research impact metrics. College & Research Libraries News, 74(6), pp.292–300. Moriano, P. et al., 2014. Dissemination of scholarly literature in social media. Piwowar, H., 2013. Altmetrics: Value all research products. Nature, 493(7431), pp.159–159. http://0- Priem, J., Groth, P., Taraborelli, D. (2012), The Altmetrics Collection, PLOS One7(11):. Strasser, C. Universities can improve academic services through wider recognition of altmetrics and alt-products. Impact of Social Sciences. Van Noorden, R., 2014. Online collaboration: Scientists and the social network. Nature, 512(7513), pp.126–129.
  64. 64. Thank you for listening Contact details: