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April 10, 2013

Tracking a twitter hashtag's activity

I'm just back from a Librarians' and publishers' conference, called UKSG, which used the twitter hashtag #uksglive... and I thought I'd put that hashtag into an infographics tool called visual.ly

Here is the poster it created for me:



create infographics with visual.ly


March 11, 2013

Things to do when you're leaving!

I shall be leaving the University of Warwick: my last day here will be on 30th April. Many researchers must go through the process of leaving an institution. What are the basic things that need to be done to make this a smooth transition?

Here are the things that I've been trying to put in order, as I prepare to leave Warwick:

1) Use my personal e-mail account properly - unsubscribe from all that junk mail that always clogs up the inbox and start creating meaningful folders there.

2) Use Evernote to forward useful e-mails and copy useful files to. Tags on all kinds of items in Evernote are more efficient than trying to replicate folder structures in e-mail and desktops and cloud based document stores. But then again, duplication guards against loss and acts as a back up, so I'll probably create an archive file from Outlook, too.

3) I have lots of online accounts that are infrequently accessed so I need to transfer the useful accounts to my personal e-mail address because password reminders going to a dead e-mail account are of no use at all! Or, make a note of the passwords to avoid needing to use those reminders.

4) Add my Twitter handle to my signature on my work e-mails: this will stay with me even when my e-mail address changes, and so it's a way for people to find me later when they want to contact me and all they've got is an old e-mail I sent them from my Warwick account.

5) Update/complete my profile on LinkedIn: I haven't done this yet but intend to. If there is a hierarchy of social networking sites, then this one is at the top of my pile: then others can be updated in time, too.

6) Start a new blog: well I created one over on Wordpress but I haven't got started blogging there yet. I plan to write a farewell post here and introduce my new blog at a later date. Not every researcher will be using their institution's proprietary blogging system and so need to transfer in this way, of course. Since I'll have blog content across two sites, I've been clipping my blog entries into Evernote, as a way of collating and curating them.

There's bound to be more that I need to do, but that'll do for starters!


March 01, 2013

Being organised with your information: Evernote is one useful tool.

Follow-up to Recording information when literature searching from Library Research Support

Organising your information is something absolutely imperative for researchers. There are lots of tools out there to help, and researchers all like to organise things in their own ways, so no one tool is going to suit all researchers. This means that you either have to investigate every new thing (ridiculous!) or listen to someone else's experiences and bear things in mind for one day when you might have a new need. This blog post is about my experiences with tools for organising stuff. I have a new need because I am preparing to leave the University of Warwick (30th April). Another experience many researchers will go through, as changing institution is very much a part of career progression for many.

In the past, I have blogged a few ways to be organised with your references, and have had guest posts from colleagues about reference management tools before, too.

I wrote here recently about organising bookmarks using online tools, and how I liked Diigo. Once or twice on this blog I have also mentioned Evernote, and that's the tool I'm currently playing with because it's been recommended by researchers at Warwick.

What I like about Evernote is that I can forward e-mails into it, and I can set it up to mirror folders on my computer so that all my e-mails and documents are tagged and accessible in the same place. I can also clip items from the web and create a copy of them to refer to later, and of course I can use my tags for them too. So I can get material from whichever source all into the same tagging system which is great, because I keep having to replicate my folder structures and it's much better to have all my re-usable stuff in one place, and tagged properly. Tags are sooo much better than folders, too, because you can have more than one per item!

I've been busy clipping my own blog entries into Evernote because this is a bit of an open notebook, and all my entries are tagged: I use this material when preparing workshops and presentations. Now I can just look on Evernote for my own blog entries, emails etc, and stuff I've clipped that has been written by others, all on the same theme. Plus, if Warwick ever decides to delete this blog after I've left, I'll have my own copies of my blog entries on Evernote.

I can use Evernote in at least three different ways:

  1. By logging into my account on the web.
  2. By opening up the software installed on my computer.
  3. By using the Evernote App on my phone.

I think that all three are going to be handy.

I will probably still use my folders, but Evernote provides a way of collecting items for a particular project or need, whilst also creating copies of them which is a kind of back-up for me.

I do wish that I could import all my bookmarks into Evernote from Diigo: that doesn't seem to be possible. But perhaps it is better to use both tools. I expect that I'll maintain my web bookmarks collection for when I want to record a whole website, but perhaps use the Evernote web clipping tool for when it's a particular page that I'm interested in, and that will also help me to overcome the problem of broken links that I get with my bookmark collection, because if the content is clipped then I will still be able to read it!

There might even be times when I will want to both bookmark on Diigo and clip onto Evernote, because Evernote is my own store, but Diigo is a route I use to share stuff with others. Incidentally, I don't have lots of network contacts on Diigo itself as a way of sharing, but I Tweet things that I bookmark on Diigo. I don't actually use Diigo's own feature for tweeting an item because it involves too many clicks and steps from me each time I bookmark. Instead, I've used IFFT (If this then that) to set up a rule for Diigo items to get automatically tweeted. But that is all about sharing my information and this blog post is meant to be about organising it! So many tools serve more than one purpose.

I expect that for proper research articles that I collect, I'll always want to use a reference management tool as well. Because they can create proper references for me by importing metadata and they can create lovely formatted references for me when I write anything formal, too. And they can do networking and sharing things, and "shout about my profile" things too.

Evernote isn't quite the "one ring to rule them all" for me to organise my information. But that's probably a good thing because I'd hate to rely on one tool for everything and then have it crash or want to bill me a small fortune for using it! And by using other tools as well, I get the benefit of all their other features for sharing and profile-raising.


Being organised with your information: Evernote is one useful tool.

Follow-up to Recording information when literature searching from Library Research Support

Organising your information is something absolutely imperative for researchers. There are lots of tools out there to help, and researchers all like to organise things in their own ways, so no one tool is going to suit all researchers. This means that you either have to investigate every new thing (ridiculous!) or listen to someone else's experiences and bear things in mind for one day when you might have a new need. This blog post is about my experiences with tools for organising stuff. I have a new need because I am preparing to leave the University of Warwick (30th April). Another experience many researchers will go through, as changing institution is very much a part of career progression for many.

In the past, I have blogged a few ways to be organised with your references, and have had guest posts from colleagues about reference management tools before, too.

I wrote here recently about organising bookmarks using online tools, and how I liked Diigo. Once or twice on this blog I have also mentioned Evernote, and that's the tool I'm currently playing with because it's been recommended by researchers at Warwick.

What I like about Evernote is that I can forward e-mails into it, and I can set it up to mirror folders on my computer so that all my e-mails and documents are tagged and accessible in the same place. I can also clip items from the web and create a copy of them to refer to later, and of course I can use my tags for them too. So I can get material from whichever source all into the same tagging system which is great, because I keep having to replicate my folder structures and it's much better to have all my re-usable stuff in one place, and tagged properly. Tags are sooo much better than folders, too, because you can have more than one per item!

I've been busy clipping my own blog entries into Evernote because this is a bit of an open notebook, and all my entries are tagged: I use this material when preparing workshops and presentations. Now I can just look on Evernote for my own blog entries, emails etc, and stuff I've clipped that has been written by others, all on the same theme. Plus, if Warwick ever decides to delete this blog after I've left, I'll have my own copies of my blog entries on Evernote.

I can use Evernote in at least three different ways:

  1. By logging into my account on the web.
  2. By opening up the software installed on my computer.
  3. By using the Evernote App on my phone.

I think that all three are going to be handy.

I will probably still use my folders, but Evernote provides a way of collecting items for a particular project or need, whilst also creating copies of them which is a kind of back-up for me.

I do wish that I could import all my bookmarks into Evernote from Diigo: that doesn't seem to be possible. But perhaps it is better to use both tools. I expect that I'll maintain my web bookmarks collection for when I want to record a whole website, but perhaps use the Evernote web clipping tool for when it's a particular page that I'm interested in, and that will also help me to overcome the problem of broken links that I get with my bookmark collection, because if the content is clipped then I will still be able to read it!

There might even be times when I will want to both bookmark on Diigo and clip onto Evernote, because Evernote is my own store, but Diigo is a route I use to share stuff with others. Incidentally, I don't have lots of network contacts on Diigo itself as a way of sharing, but I Tweet things that I bookmark on Diigo. I don't actually use Diigo's own feature for tweeting an item because it involves too many clicks and steps from me each time I bookmark. Instead, I've used IFFT (If this then that) to set up a rule for Diigo items to get automatically tweeted. But that is all about sharing my information and this blog post is meant to be about organising it! So many tools serve more than one purpose.

I expect that for proper research articles that I collect, I'll always want to use a reference management tool as well. Because they can create proper references for me by importing metadata and they can create lovely formatted references for me when I write anything formal, too. And they can do networking and sharing things, and "shout about my profile" things too.

Evernote isn't quite the "one ring to rule them all" for me to organise my information. But that's probably a good thing because I'd hate to rely on one tool for everything and then have it crash or want to bill me a small fortune for using it! And by using other tools as well, I get the benefit of all their other features for sharing and profile-raising.


February 22, 2013

Bookmarking websites: switching from Delicious to Diigo

Writing about web page https://www.diigo.com/user/jennyality

I used to use Delicious.com to manage my bookmarks and have recently switched to Diigo. I didn't like the recent changes to Delicious: it limited the ways I could manage my enormous collection of bookmarks.

In the past, I have used the browser bookmarking tools of Explorer and Firefox but of course you can only access those bookmarks on one PC or one login profile, and with one browser. Also, I like using tags better than folders as a way to organise my bookmarks, because a site can only be in one folder but can have several tags.

My enormous collection on Delicious is the product of years of work. What I want to do with my collection is:

  1. Sort by private/public: Delicious frustrated me for some time by not supporting this, but Diigo has imported my bookmarks beautifully, carrying over these properties and it allows me to sort in this way and review which need to be private.
  2. Sort my tags by the number of sites bookmarked with them. In this way I can look at the tags that only have one site and decide if I really need the tag: Diigo points out that I have 423 tags which is way too many! Delicious used to do this and I was slowly sorting my tags, but it's apparently not offered any longer.
  3. Find links that are broken. Delicious definitely couldn't do this for me. Not sure yet if Diigo can. Some of my links are old and broken, I know. I do like that Diigo displays the date that the bookmark was added, though, as it gives me a clue about whether my link is going to be live now or not.
  4. Replace tags that are obsolete with ones that I currently use. Delicious used to do this, but not any more. Diigo enables me to edit my tags very easily and I'm busy deleting useless ones to make them more manageable and useful!

Other things that I like about Diigo now that I've switched:

  • It has an "advanced" view that enables me to tick which bookmarks I'm interested in and then apply the action I choose.
  • One of those actions is "generate report" which displays the selected bookmarks in a nice way to incorporate into a report.
  • Another action that is possible is to add tags to the selected bookmarks, as a collection.
  • It seems much more sophisticated that Delicious, and I like the additional functions that I am discovering.

What I don't like about Diigo are:

  • the adverts that get in the way
  • it takes two clicks to create a bookmark record: Delicious' tool was a bit quicker, but then I haven't explored the sticky note feature or any other aspects of Diigo yet.

In general though, I do like find these bookmarking tools very handy!


November 08, 2012

"Just About" New YouTube channel of our tips for researchers

We are creating short video clips of the best tips we give to researchers in our information skills workshops, on literature searching and disseminating your research. The series is called "Just about" as the clips are about 3 minutes long and they are each about one particular tip.


July 16, 2012

Guest Post by Karina Hilder: References on–the–go…

Karina Hilder is an Academic Support Officer in the Library at the University of Warwick. This guest post describes her thoughts on using Mendeley and EndNote Web on mobile devices.

After a comparison of reference management tools Mendeley (free) and EndNote Web (free to University of Warwick researchers) I posted here a few months back, I thought I’d follow up with a few thoughts on using both on mobile devices.

Mendeley have made it quite explicit on their blog that they won’t be developing any Android apps themselves, and you only have to read a few comments to see that this has not been well received by Mendeley users. However, several third party apps have been developed to allow you access to your Mendeley records, the best of which I’ve found to be Scholarley. The set up was startlingly easy in comparison with Referey; simply download and login and Scholarley quickly syncs with your Mendeley account to bring article details and attached Pdfs onto your android device.

Mendeley have developed their own app for the iPad; Mendeley Lite. This works in a very similar way to Scholarley, with the added bonus of being able to search your references rather than just sorting and browsing them. Mendeley Lite also allows to view your favourites or recently added documents, and you can manually add references to your library.

Unfortunately, neither app brings across comments or highlights you’ve made on your papers in the desktop version of Mendeley. I can’t seem make new annotations either, but you do have the option of opening the Pdf with a different app on your device, so you could potentially access more functionality this way.

EndNote Web doesn’t have an Android or iOS (iPhone operating system) app, but of course being the web-based version of EndNote, you can access your references as usual from www.myendnoteweb.com on any device with an internet browser; everything functions as you’d normally expect apart from importing reference data which you may have downloaded from a database. The mobile version of its website also displays fine on tablets and mobiles. This allows you to search and view your records, and of course if you have a stable link in the URL field, you can follow this through to view journal articles etc. in your browser, or potentially open a Full Text Pdf in another app if preferred.

Another research tool, Zotero has an Android app called Zotero Scanner. I didn’t download this as it wasn’t free (only £1.26 mind), but it allows you to scan the barcode on books to harvest its bibliographic information from Worldcat and send it to a Zotero reference library. I’m not sure how often I’d use this, as if I’ve got the books from my library, then presumably I’ve already visited the library catalogue and could have collected the bibliographic data from there. Then again, if you happen to spot another relevant book when you’re at the shelves, scanning it in to your reference library then and there could certainly be a big time saver.

I think the potential impact of these apps will depend on the way you use your reference library. Personally, I don’t use mine to manage my reading and papers; I use it because of the work it takes out of formatting in text citations and reference lists in Word, and if I plan on doing this on the go, I’ll definitely be taking my laptop with me. I think that’s why I’ve always stuck with EndNote Web. However, if you do use Mendeley for this reason, these apps may be an excellent way of keeping your Pdf library synced across your devices for easy access at all times. That said, if you’re interested more in Pdf reader functionality, you might be better off investing in a more capable app such as Papers (£10.49 – only on iOS), allowing you to sync your library across your devices and to annotate and highlight Pdfs. Of course, if you’re willing to pay out for your software, there’s a range of other possibilities you might want to look into including Sente (Mac and iOS). I’m sticking to free software here, but if you are interested, this blog post comparing Sente and Papers might be a good place to start.


July 09, 2012

Mendeley and ResearchGate: profile sites and repositories used in tandem to raise research profiles.

Writing about web page http://opus.bath.ac.uk/30227/

There are so many places for authors to put their papers and information about their papers online, so what is the best way to make use of them? I don't have the answer exactly, but I have plenty of ideas!

Drive traffic to the repository by creating links to your papers

Brian Kelly of UKOLN (see Brian's UK Web Focus blog) and I have co-authored a paper for the international repositories conference, OR2012. The full reference is:

Kelly, B. and Delasalle, J., 2012. Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories? Submitted to: OR2012: the 7th International Conference on Open Repositories, 9-13 July 2012, Edinburgh, Scotland.

and naturally, it is in an open access repository and linked to from this post.

The article title mentions LinkedIn and Academia.edu, and this blog post title mentions Mendeley and ResearchGate, but the concept that the article explores and that this blog post is about, is that these kind of external, profile hosting sites could be useful to researchers in raising the profile of their work, especially when used in conjunction with repositories.

I have blogged in the past about these kinds of profile hosting sites and listed a few other such sites in a piece about Academia.edu, and I have written on this blog about the number of Warwick researchers I could find on such profile sites.

One point explored in the paper is that the profile sites offer a way for authors to create inbound links to their papers in a repository, and such links might help to optimise those papers' search engine rankings, since the number of links to a page or site are a factor in search engine rankings.

I don't quite understand how search engine rankings work (that's their business, and it's getting ever more complex... SEOmoz have a useful article), but inbound links have long been a factor, one way or another. And as a former repository manager and a long-time information professional, I'm very, very aware of the important and sizeable role that Google has to play in bringing visitors to papers in a repository. Some of my early blog posts on the WRAP blog attest to that.

So profile sites are useful to researchers in offering a quick and easy way to generate inbound links to your repository papers: it's a simple concept, but as the example of Brian's work that is given in our paper demonstrates, there are probably a lot of other factors as well that might raise the profile of a researcher's papers.

Maintaining profile details on these sites

Naturally, Brian Kelly and I have profiles on these sites, and our paper is appearing on our publication lists on these sites... thanks Brian, for uploading it and making it easy for me! I confess, that I have left partial profiles on most of these sites: it takes a lot of time to create and update profiles properly. Brian is really good at doing this but I'm not a great example to other authors about how to use these sites.

The two sites I have been looking at most recently are Mendeley and ResearchGate:

I like ResearchGate for making it easy for me to "claim" articles that it has found, as ones that I am an author of. In particular, I like that it harvests records from my institutional repository, so if I kept that up to date with all my papers, then it would be relatively little effort to also keep my profile on ResearchGate up to date. Bravo, ResearchGate! (I have blogged about ResearchGate recently, in greater detail).

However, the thing that I find most irritating about ResearchGate when it comes to using it in tandem with an open access repository, is that it invites me to upload the full text of my paper in a huge box on the top right hand side, and it displays my paper to others with a "Request Full-text" button. Meanwhile, the link to the repository where the full text is available is almost invisible and it is not recognisable as a potential full text source. It simply says "Source:OAI" and the "OAI" part is a link to the WRAP repository record from where the full text can be retrieved.

This makes me have considerable sympathy with authors whose papers I have requested copies of, when I was a repository manager, because it is irritating when your article is already available on open access to all, to be asked to put it in another place as well!

Mendeley has similar features and issues in that I can import records from all sorts of sources using its "web importer", including Google Scholar which does index a lot of repository content... but it's not so simple to use as ResearchGate, when it comes to updating my profile with my own papers from the institutional repository. When I carry out a search on Mendeley itself, I find a sophisticated advanced search form, which I like, although I don't like that I can't edit my search string in the search box after running the search. I tried to do that after my first advanced search and got no results but when I went back to the advanced search form and put my revised criteria into the form, I got results. I think that's clunky and there is work to be done on it as a publications discovery tool.

On Mendeley, I am able to refine the results of my search further by selecting a tick box on the right hand side "Open access articles only". I tried this and was disappointed. It finds papers that I have written, but it doesn't know that the ones in WRAP are available on open access.

How do I tell Mendeley that the paper is already available on OA? Why doesn't it already know?

Both Mendeley and ResearchGate have got it wrong

Or at least, from an open access point of view, they have got it wrong. It ought not to be up to the author to upload their content into several places online. And they should be making it easy for people searching within their environments to get through to the existing open access versions of papers: after all, it's hardly in the spirit of OA to make it difficult for people to access the open access version!

Repository managers' perspectives

One of the points that Brian and I made in our poster for OR2012 was to ask 'why don't repository managers recommend use of external researcher profile sites?' Well, it would help if the profile sites worked nicely with repositories, I think.

And of course another answer to our question is that repository managers have enough of a struggle getting papers for the repository itself, never mind encouraging authors to put their papers elsewhere as well.

Beyond that, it is likely that others at the University are advising on the use of social media, so it might be something that repository managers don't see as their role.

Recently, I posted to a repository managers e-mail list to double check if any of them were recommending such sites:

One replied to say that she had noticed some researchers from her institution who were putting their documents onto sites like these, in full text, but not into the institutional repository. So perhaps repositories should be harvesting from the likes of Mendeley and ResearchGate, too.

At the University of Glasgow, they are sometimes using the "Related URL" field to link to a version of the article on Mendeley (see this example record), which is a step towards integrating these two approaches.

Social Media more generally

One repository manager responded that she did encourage authors to use social media "like LinkedIn, Twitter and a blog". And I was sent a very useful link to a blog post by Melissa Terras at UCL, entitled "Is blogging and tweeting about research papers worth it?" (Short Answer: yes, if you want to attract visitors!)

I think that the use of "social media" is a much bigger topic than the use of profile sites as such. I know that most of the places where researchers can put their profile information are also social media tools in some sense. But this blog post is not intended to cover the social aspects of these tools: that is perhaps for a future blog post!

One more relevant aspect is that publisher websites do often encourage authors to use such profile sites and social media in general, to raise the profiles of their papers. I have blogged about publishers' instructions for authors already.

And finally, I must say that Brian Kelly is an excellent example of an author who uses profile sites and social media. He has uploaded details of his papers onto these sites, but he has also deposited OA copies into his institutional repository and blogged and tweeted about his papers before the conference itself, to raise interest in them. I'm not at all surprised that Brian is the author of the 15 most downloaded papers in the Bath repository, from his department!


June 28, 2012

Scholarly social media use

A couple of articles have come to my attention lately, documenting researchers' use of social media. One is about early career Victorianists:

Amber K. Regis (2012) Early Career Victorianists and Social Media: Impact, Audience and Online Identities, Journal of Victorian Culture. Online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13555502.2012.689504

This article compares a tweet to a postcard!

Regis says that social media are important because "they are able to create and sustain inclusive communities", i.e. communities with reach beyond academia. I like this because it relates very much to the work we are doing with the Wolfson Research Exchange and the PG Hub with their digital presences and emphasis on peer support. We use blogs, Facebook and Twitter and websites for both facilities and their communities. And of course it relates to the research impact agenda, as Regis goes on to discuss.

Regis picks out some particular researchers and their blogs:

And Regis describes the changing academic landscape, where job adverts ask for candidates to demonstrate "imagination in terms of the dissemination of research findings", and for a "modern portfolio of research skills". Employers will be thinking of the REF exercise and the priorities of research funders, and googling the names of candidates.

According to Regis, the REF panel criteria only mention social media as a general term once, and blogging gets a mention as a potential citation source beyond academia, but in the matter of public engagement and impact of research, Regis says that "social media haunt the spaces between the lines." What a lovely turn of phrase!

Regis explains that "comments, replies, tweets and retweets are an immediate source of 'third party engagement' and 'user feedback or testimony' as required under the REF" and she quotes Warwick's own Charlotte Mathieson, who says "...public engagement is something that occurs while research is taking place and not simply after the fact." Charlotte has written some good blog posts and guides on the topic of impact, whilst working for us.

I find the Regis article important because of the disciplinary focus it has. It discusses the role of social media with examples from those researching a specific field, that of Victorian culture. However, the points it makes could be widely applicable to other fields of research. A few years ago I was writing an internal report for our library and looking for examples of researchers' blogs, and I found it difficult to identify research blogs by individuals. But perhaps if I had been a researcher within a particular discipline I would have been more likely to find the kind of examples I was looking for, as the author of this article was able to do. Finding good blogs and engaging with social media relevant to your field requires an immersion in and awareness of your field, just as with keeping up to date with research papers and articles.

The other article on the theme of researchers' use of social media that came to my attention lately is on the LSE Impact of Social Science blog, which is one also mentioned by Regis, but which I've been following for some time, latterly on my RSS feed reader and lately via their Twitter feed. It's a blog which covers lots of the themes I'm interested in. In particular the blog post of interest is: Scholars are quickly moving toward a universe of web-native communication

This blog post has multiple authors and a very academic style: it is a taster for a conference paper soon to be delivered. It deals with the theme of altmetrics, which might become important in the online, social media research era, just as bibliometrics have become important in measurement of research through the formal publication channels.

The authors state: "But before we can start to seriously examine scholars’ personal altmetrics, we need to get a sense of how wide and established their presence on the social Web is..." and they go on to describe how they measured the work of a sample of 57 authors who presented at a Science and Technology Indicators conference.

Of their sample, 84% had homepages, 70% were on LinkedIn, 23 % had Google Scholar profiles and 16% were on Twitter. I don't know if they also looked for the authors on other profile sites like Academia.edu or ResearchGate, but I do like their methodology and perhaps other researcher samples could be taken and assessed in this way. I think that their sample might not be representative across the fields.

Another aspect of the work the LSE blog authors carried out was to source activity relating to the researchers' papers, on Mendeley and on CiteULike, and to correlate this activity with the number of citations for the papers on Scopus, and they found some significant correlations. I am interested in that these researchers may or may not have had their own profiles on Mendeley and CiteULike, but that's not the point, because their work can be bookmarked on these sites in any case. They conclude their blog post by saying " It’ll take work to understand and use these new metrics – but they’re not going away."

Having read these two articles in quick succession, I am minded to believe that researchers' use of social media is growing and that these two articles describe two different ways to survey that growth and the significance of it. Regis has investigated blogging within a particular speciality, whilst the LSE blog's authors investigated online presence more broadly.

My next interest is in how researchers keep track of the social media relating to their field, and indeed share that current awareness tracking with others. There were once RSS feed readers but nowadays there are tools and sites like paper.li, storify, pinterest and pinboard and the stacks feature on Delicious, Bundles on Google Reader, Bundlr, and Mendeley and Zotero and CiteULike no doubt offer similar features, etc, etc, etc! These allow you to not only keep track for yourself but to also share your tracking with others: there have always been tools that did this, but there is an abundance these days and I wonder which ones researchers use and why...


June 18, 2012

ResearchGate is growing

Writing about web page http://www.researchgate.net/

I've noticed a growth in activity on ResearchGate lately, so have investigated it a bit more thoroughly.

Warwick researchers

Back in January 2012, I blogged that there were 313 researchers from a search for "university of warwick". Now it just tells me that there are "1000+" researchers.

One recent e-mail from ResearchGate told me that that "over 65" researchers from warwick had joined in the last month. That seems like quite fast progress, and ResearchGate has introduced the facility to navigate by institution. When navigating this way, there are 380 University of Warwick members of ResearchGate. Perhaps the other researchers in my search results have mentioned Warwick in some way but are not currently members of the University. This seems like a much better way for me to keep track of Warwick researchers' engagement with the site.

Discussions on ResearchGate

I'm also interested in the activity on ResearchGate in the discussion forums. I'm following a handful of topics, including "Academic writing", "Digital Libraries" "Science 2.0 and open access". I get an e-mail every now and then to tell me about a new question or answers to a question that I am following: there is activity there, and from time to time it is useful to me.

ResearchGate's topics are similar to way I use jiscmail mailing lists, although more efficient because I only get notifications of discussions once, and if it's not of interest then I don't get notifications of further engagement on that topic. Also, the community is different: there are more researchers on ResearchGate and more librarians on jiscmail. LinkedIn offers similar functions in terms of groups where discussions can take place, but perhaps I am not on the right LinkedIn groups because I'm not seeing so much interaction happening there: for me it is more of a useful place to keep up with news than to watch or take part in discussions.

Another difference in the way I've used LinkedIn and ResearchGate is that I can find more people on LinkedIn who I am connected to, whilst on ResearchGate I haven't used the "follow" function very much, for researchers. I don't regularly check what my LinkedIn contacts are doing anyway, so I suppose it's natural that I haven't used the similar feature on ResearchGate. I just selected a few people from the University of Warwick to follow, so will see if that function becomes more interesting to me.

More about the Warwick researchers on ResearchGate

Most have not uploaded photographs. Some have used jokey pictures and a few I recognise as PhD students here. One or two are names of established researchers here, and a few are from our IT Services or from central administration departments. The Departmental breakdown offered by ResearchGate tells me that there are researchers from 18 departments, but it isn't simple to see how many are in each department.

ResearchGate is now displaying an "impact points" score for the institution and for each department. Today, Warwick has 17,028.13 points. The department with the highest number of points is the Department of Chemistry, with 2778.64 points. I can't see any more information than that about the department: ResearchGate displayed a message that they are "still crunching the data" for this department and that I could request that the data be processed for one department only, so I should choose wisely! I requested Chemistry and was told that there are now 2 requests, and that "Once we're done, you'll be able to see stats that visualize this department's research output." I look forward to it!

Publications on ResearchGate: a literature source?

So what are those impact points all about? It appears that they are something to do with activity around publications on ResearchGate. Warwick has 7,185 publications on ResearchGate today. Researchers can upload publications, with citation and abstract information displaying on ResearchGate: it is another place where researchers can search for articles, and it takes data from the likes of PubMed and RePEC and CiteSeer: it claims to have data for over 35 million documents. Which is great, but as a librarian, I don't much like the simple search features: even the "advanced search" is way too simple for properly filtering quite so many documents, in my view. I like to use lots of limits and criteria. I didn't try the "similar abstracts" function out, but I did note that the search tips are helpful in explaining how to do boolean logic based searches with keywords.

I liked the journal title record, when I did a "journal finder" search: lots of valuable information there, including impact factors and SherpaRoMEO data. I might recommend it as a source of journal information in my "Getting Published" workshops, because it brings lots of information together in that way.

There is also a function to bookmark publications in ResearchGate. I bookmarked a couple easily enough, and I notice that there is a function to share an item on Twitter too, so these are features that I ought to investigate further.

I just quickly added three of my publications that ResearchGate identified for me to my profile: I could have uploaded a file from EndNote or tried other methods, but this was enough for now. I now have the option to upload the papers themselves, but I won't do that because they are freely available online already. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the source data for this was Warwick's Institutional repository, WRAP, which is great because Warwick researchers who use WRAP will find it easy to create complete profiles on ResearchGate.

My ResearchGate profile looks pretty poor and I probably ought to invest in it a bit more, especially now that there is so much more going on there. I wish I had time to investigate more thoroughly, but perhaps I will come back to it!


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