All 51 entries tagged Dissemination

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January 08, 2013

Some Twitter tips for the New Year

I've heard it said that:

You get the Twitter feed that you deserve!

The key to using Twitter effectively is to know who you want to listen to and be in discussions with. There is nothing inherently frivolous about Twitter itself, it's just that you do need to be brief and that can lead to spontaneity and frivolity but equally, you can spend a long time crafting a perfect 140 character tweet to express your idea in as brief a way as possible.

Twitter is a great way to get a summary or overview of what's going on in your field, if you follow people who do craft their tweets carefully. Twitter is not only a great way to listen to those people but also to interact with them: you can publicly tweet at people who you want to reach and you can tweet directly at people who follow you, for a private conversation.

If you can't find the right people then you could always start tweeting on your topic yourself, and others will find you. It's worth investigating the profiles of people who follow you on Twitter, to see if you might want to follow them back.

And if you find you're not following the right people after all, well you can clear out your twitter feed and unfollow people here or there. It's up to you to create and curate your own experience of Twitter!

December 05, 2012

What do publishers do for authors?

Is there an advantage to setting up your own journal or publishing your work online yourself? What do journal publishers actually do for authors? Since RCUK funded authors are soon to be paying large sums of money for OA publication of their articles, where is the value for that spend? This piece explores a little bit of what publishers do.

The Finch report has highlighted the need for publishers to be able to continue to invest in publishing innovations. On page 51, it states that

Access on its own does not necessarily make for effective communication.

and on p95 it says that

Quality assurance through peer review coupled with the wide range of discovery, navigation, linking and related services provided by publishers... are of critical importance to both authors and users of research publications.

Back in 1997, Fytton Rowland described four functions of a scholarly journal:

  1. dissemination - publishing and marketing activity.
  2. quality - this is where editorial, peer review and quality assurance come in.
  3. canonical version - a work that others can refer to. Involves archiving, issuing DOIs and ISSNs, etc.
  4. recognition & credit for the authors.

In my view, the recognition authors want is quite often tied to the dissemination and quality activity. If your peers don't know about your article (the dissemination hasn't been good enough) then the recognition and credit can't follow. If the journal you are published in is not one of the high quality ones then it follows that the audience and recognition you might get for being published there might be less. Although if your work is of high quality itself then it might help to raise the perceived quality of a publication.

Authors have told me that they want the following things from a publisher:

  1. To edit and improve their work.
  2. Bestow prestige on their work.
  3. Publicise their work & bring them an audience. The audience they want might be scholars or a broader reach, leading to "impact".
  4. Protect their work against plagiarism.
  5. A perpetual record of their work.
  6. Money: probably more applicable to book deals but for journals, at least the author won't want it to cost them a huge amount to publish.
  7. Timeliness: some authors want their work published as soon as possible.

I daresay that the list could grow a lot longer for some and be shorter for others, but essentially authors often have to balance their needs when choosing where to publish.

Earlier this year (2012) Jason Priem described a "de-coupled" journal" and how the journal system could be reformed to provide essential functions of:

  • archiving : relates to "canonical version", in Rowland's list above.
  • registration : relates to "recognition", above.
  • dissemination : also mentioned above.
  • certification : relates to the quality function, above.

The concept of a de-coupled journal is one where there is more variety in how each of the different functions are provided, so that they might not all come from the publisher. Eg archiving might be shared with repositories which store a preservation copy. Dissemination activity can be carried out by authors themselves. The online environment brings a variety of channels and services that authors can use, beyond the traditional publishing system.

I wanted to explore more of what publishers do:

Filter for quality: co-ordinating the peer review process

Editors provide one layer of a quality filter, and then the peer reviewers provide the next level. Editors and peer reviewers refine and polish articles for publication, so they also enhance articles in terms of their quality.

Managing a journal and co-ordinating the quality process is no small task, even when the peer reviewers and editors work for free. The authors need instructions, the editors benefit from tracking tools to monitor where peer reviewers are at in the process and to chase peer reviewers. Copyediting and proof reading tasts need to be carried out. Digital media or associated data might also need corrections and modifications to the way they display.

There are lots of experiments with the peer review process:

Is there a role for more post-publication peer review? eg F1000 offers this. Accessible science might need to be more peer reviewed than science that is only for sharing within the academic sphere, where researchers are able to assess quality for themselves owing to their expertise, whilst members of the public and amateur experts might not be as well able to assess the quality of articles they find.

Many journals publish articles with a comments field at the bottom, rather like on blogs, but relatively few articles attract worthwhile comments. Journals (eg PLoSONE) sometimes publish information on downloads, "tweets" and "likes" for their articles, so that readers can use those measures as post-publication quality markers, too.

Alternatively, peer review could take place even before an author submits an article: American Journal Experts offer a pre-submission peer review service, for a fee. It could save you time if you have the money to spend and the process is indeed rigorous and helpful, since they promise turnaround times of days.

Dealing with ethical concerns

Pre-publication, the ethical concerns could be said to be a part of the quality filtering process. Before publication, publishers:

  • issue instructions to authors
  • use editors and peer review to screen articles,
  • require authors to sign agreements.

Editors need to be experienced and knowledgeable in their field to identify ethical concerns. Scientific "mis-conduct" is not defined in exact terms and practices might vary. Ethical considerations might include:

  • the work of others is properly acknowledged, credited and referenced.
  • data should be accurate and preserved and accessible - as appropriate.
  • the article should be complete and publication well timed (eg results not being shared prematurely).
  • co-authorship is properly attributed.
  • confidentiality is respected and maintained.

Publishers are not the only filter for ethical considerations, of course: such issues are included in grant proposals to research funders and the process by which they are reviewed. Institutions might have ethical review panels to approve grant proposals even before they are submitted to the research funders.

After publication, publishers might use retractions or corrections to deal with ethical concerns. This is perhaps more of a service to readers than to authors, but it does help to maintain a journal's prestige if ethical matters are dealt with professionally.

ALPSP's Learned Publishing journal from April 2011 features an article about ethical considerations. Advice from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is particularly useful and well presented, with flowcharts.

Dissemination & discoverability

An earlier guest post on this blog, by Yvonne Budden, describes the importance of metadata to resource discovery. By providing good quality metadata, publishers are bringing readers to the article you have written, and helping you to find articles that you should be reading.

Search Engine Optimisation seems to me a "dark art" but it is important for scholarly articles to be discoverable through Google and Google Scholar: that's where a lot of researchers will be looking for stuff.

Some publishers are huge and they build and market their own discovery platforms for scholarly articles. Other publishers ensure that their content is indexed in others' discovery environments. Most publishers offer table of contents alerts.

Publishers have staff dedicated to marketing and sales, helping to ensure that their work reaches key target audiences. Perhaps in an Author-pays OA world, sales staff will be selling the services on offer to authors rather than the services offered to subscribers and readers. Marketing staff will be building the prestige of the publisher and journal brands.

Journal publishers should monitor the audiences for their publications and ensure that their material is discoverable in the places where people are looking for it, in the way(s) that they like to search.

International copyright protection?

In my view, authors are concerned that others should not copy their work without attribution but this is more a question of plagiarism. I don't think they mind about the actual copying so long as they are credited. With the RCUK policy on Open Access, the articles that they pay Gold OA fees for should be made available for others to copy for any purpose, as long as the work is properly attributed, using the so-called CC-BY licence. With such a licence, the copyright is not something to be protected.

I'm also not sure to what extent publishers pursue copyright internationally when they own it and don't licence copying, and I expect a variety of practice between publishers and from one nation to the next. After all, copyright law must vary on an international scale. So I'm leaving my big question mark in the heading of this piece!

Awards schemes that they run or sponsor

See my earlier blog post on Journal awards for examples of the kinds of award schemes that publishers might offer... or indeed put their journals forward for.

Awards act as a route to recognition but also as a way of building prestige of a journal if at the title level and from an external and prestigious source.

Open Access repository deposit

Research which has been funded by the Wellcome Trust has to have outputs deposited into Pubmed Central: authors who pay a fee for the Gold Open Access route, which the Wellcome Trust will pay for, can have publishers make this deposit on their behalf.

Publishers sometimes also allow authors to make deposits. The Sherpa ROMEO tool makes it easy to look up publishers' policies on repository deposit by authors, although authors really ought to keep copies of the agreements they sign with publishers as these will be the legally binding expectations, rather than the publisher's latest policy.


In summary then, it seems to me that publishers should be doing the following things for authors:

  • co-ordinate the editorial and peer review process to filter for quality and also polish works.
  • provide instructions and support to authors, peer reviewers and editors.
  • build the reputation and prestige of their titles through professional handling of ethical concerns.
  • provide quality metadata to the right search tools.
  • ensure that their content is easily discoverable on the web via search engines.
  • measure downloads and activity around articles: this could be used to enhance their dissemination activity but could also be used as a further mark of quality if displayed to readers.
  • adapt to the OA and copyright needs of researchers as authors and readers.
  • provide authors with clear agreements and keep SherpaROMEO's records up to date.
  • offer awards and put their journals forward for awards, by way of offering recognition for authors and building prestige for their journals.
  • invest in publishing innovations... which could be around any of the themes above.

It's quite daunting to think of setting up a journal and doing all this yourself. Do leave a comment and let me know all the things I've missed out!

August 02, 2012

What happens after you send off your article?

Well, at first maybe nothing! You might have to wait a long time: each journal will have different procedures and timescales, and there will be some practices that are more prevalent in each discipline, but here is a little list of the basic next steps that authors might come across.

1) Desk rejection: this is when your article is rejected without being sent for peer review. More and more journals are bringing in this initial filtering stage as they are being inundated with articles for review, and the peer review system is under pressure. Three basic ways to avoid this kind of rejection are:

  • read the journal's instructions and advice for authors and follow them!
  • make sure your writing and language is correct (and follows the conventions and instructions of the journal you are submitting to.)
  • make sure that your article is within the scope of that journal's remit, i.e. your content matches their subject area. You do need to choose the right journal to submit your article to.

The Construction Management and Economics forum has 30 tips on how to avoid a desk rejection!

2) Your article is sent off to referees, for peer review. There are differences in peer review processes, such as the number of peer reviewers, blind or double-blind review, editor's right to final decision, etc. Practices vary by discipline, but the basic possibilities are:

  • Open: both authors and reviewers know each other.
  • Blind: author doesn’t know reviewer.
  • Double blind: neither author nor reviewer are known to each other.

After the peer review then you might get one of the following responses:

  1. Accepted unconditionally (rare!)
  2. Accepted in the event that you improve it in certain ways,
  3. Invited to revise and re-submit. This might feel like a rejection but it is an opportunity! Beware of journals' advertised rejection and acceptance rates, which are unlikely to count this response as a rejection.
  4. Rejected with comments. Use these to refine your article and then submit the article to a different journal. Sometimes a different journal from the same publishing house might be suggested.

When considering how to respond to the peer reviewer's comments, there are three golden rules:
(1) respond completely;
(2) respond politely; and
(3) respond with evidence.

These are described in: Williams, Hywel C. (2004) How to reply to referees’ comments when submitting manuscripts for publication. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 51 (1). pp. 79-83.

At this stage, you might be asked to pay an article processing charge and to sign an authors' agreement, although you might have had to deal with these parts of the process at the submission stage. Charges are sometimes made for colour illustrations, for more pages than their limit, and/or for Open Access availability.

When your article has been accepted then consider your publisher's policy on repository deposit, along with your repository's ability to handle embardo periods. You might be able to put an open access version into your institutional repository.

3) Expect more waiting for your article proofs. When you get these, keep an eye on the deadline date for you to respond. If you have co-authors then you should share these with them, and perhaps give them a deadline too. Proofing corrections might be done on the manuscript itself, or in a separate document which refers to page and line numbers. Your proof reading is not just of your text, but of titles, figures, references, etc.

Sometimes the proof comes along with editorial queries for you to respond to: use these to make corrections. Note that proofing corrections should be minor.

4) After proofing and corrections, your publisher might make your article available online on their website.

5) Your article appears in the journal issue.

6) Marketing of your work: this is something you can do, as well as the activity that a publisher will do to market and sell their journal titles.

7) We hope that this won't happen, but there can also be subsequent procedures:

  • Erratum: production errors in your article that the journal publisher will issue a correction for.
  • Corrections: part of your article is flawed and the article is corrected.
  • Retractions: Serious flaws, ethical problems or erroneous data might lead to this. So might "redundant publication" where the publisher discovers that the author has published the same research findings elsewhere.

8) Someone cites your article! If you want to track these and the journal you have published with is indexed by Web of Knowledge, then investigate citation alert tracking on WoK. You can track citations on Google Scholar.

July 19, 2012

Guest post by Yvonne Budden: Metadata and Online Discoverability

Yvonne Budden is the University of Warwick's E-Repositories Manager responsible for the Publications service and WRAP, her specialisms include open access, digital repositories and copyright. She also has ten years experience creating and managing metadata.

Metadata is a key tool to aid the dissemination of research, it's not the most exciting of topics but it can make all the difference when trying to locate electronic resources. Good metadata can help elevate the ranking of an item in search tools and guide specific audiences to a resource and conversely bad metadata can mean an item is never found. This post will look at some key concepts of metadata and end with some things to consider if you're looking to publish a yourself.

Metadata is the commonly used term to describe information about other things, for example the metadata of an mp3 will include things like the track title, artist, running time, encoding used etc. Any contextual information provided about something can be considered metadata. Most researchers have a profile page with information about their educational background, department and institution affiliation, research interests, grants, publications etc., this information can be considered metadata about a researcher. Looking specifically at metadata for outputs there are three main types:

  • Descriptive metadata - which describes the output for discovery and identification and can include; title, creators, abstract, keywords, journal title, DOI and many more.
  • Structural metadata - indicates how compound objects inter-relate, for example how pages should be ordered in a book.
  • Administrative metadata - provides information on how the output should be managed, includes date of creation, file type and other technical information. It also describes the intellectual property rights of the item, such as who owns the copyright, and any metadata required for the long term preservation of the item.

Most publishers produce metadata for items they publish and this metadata is then passed an array of services. For journal items the metadata is harvested by Web of Science, Scopus and other indexing services, as well as by Google and Library catalogues like Warwick's Encore service. Book metadata is harvested by bookseller services, libraries and data aggregators. Open Access repositories like the Warwick Research Archive (WRAP) create, harvest and disseminate metadata as widely as possible as part of their role in showcasing Warwick research. The software used for WRAP is specifically optimised to allow its metadata to be easily discovered and indexed by Google and the team undertake work to enhance and expand the metadata supplied by publishers and researchers for better rankings and discoverablity.

Metadata is what drives most of the search engines and discovery platforms for research. All of the services that create metadata, including researchers need to be aware of what the metadata says, as Emerald Publishing's guide for authors puts it:

"The online environment presents researchers with a huge amount of choice in their search for relevant articles. As an author, it is important to remember that your article is competing for attention alongside other articles and online resources." [2]

Search engines pick up on the metadata in the html headers of web pages, online resources and blog posts and use it to rank these pages in the search. Other services like the OpenURL system that drives link resolvers like SFX and Webbridge use the data to match up metadata on articles with Library holdings to help researchers access articles and e-books subscribed to by the University with little effort to the researcher. Metadata is also used as a way of telling people and machines what they have permission to do with your research once they have found it and to allow you to make an assessment about the quality of the item.

So what to researchers need to consider when creating metadata for their journal articles, blog posts, websites or journals? Below are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Short titles - the more words in the title the less likely it is to be download, odd but true [2]
  • Keywords - use tags and keywords that your audience will understand, but try to make sure to write out any acronyms at least once. Repeating keywords in the title and abstract (but not in the same place) will increase visibility to a search engine [2], [3]
  • Consistency - when using keywords or tags try to be consistent as well as descriptive in the way you use those tags. Most blogging software and tools like Evernote will help you by presenting you a list of tags to choose from. This is especially important in blogs that have a number of contributers to keep things organised.
  • Synonyms - when writing an abstract if you have used your key term once, consider using a synonym in later sentences, partially to avoid repetition and to allow users who might have chosen to use a different term to find your work.
  • Identifiers - these are vital as they give people an easy way to share your work! Publishers do this for articles with Digital Object Identifers (DOIs). Open access databases create an unique permanent URL for each article (e.g. and some, like WRAP for Warwick researchers, create one for each member of staff ( Most blog software generates a unique URL for each post as well.
  • Be comprehensive - when people are adding metadata to objects the temptation can be to add only the 'required' fields, but everything (and anything) you put into the metadata can be used as a way for search engines to find your research so consider spending a little more time on it and giving your audience as many chances as possible to find your research.
  • External services - if you are publishing your own journal consider submitting the metadata to other indexing services. Some services, like Web of Science and Scopus have tight criteria on what they index but these services are the great at disseminating journal content as they are places people use to find information. If your journal is open access, listing it in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is useful as the service now holds records from just under 8000 journals and is growing every day. If you have a working paper series listing them, or even hosting them, in an open access archive, such as SSRN, RePEc or WRAP for Warwick based series' is a quick way to benefit from wider dissemination and in WRAP's case enhanced metadata.


  1. Ruffilo, Nick (2011) "Five Degrees Of Metadata: Small Changes Can Mean Big Sales" Publishers Weekly Soapbox.
  2. Emerald Publishing "How to... increase online readership of your article"
  3. Wiley Blackwell "Optimizing Your Article for Search Engines"
  4. Getting your Journal Indexed (A SPARC Guide)

July 09, 2012

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

Writing about web page

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 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, 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, 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!

July 03, 2012

Mendeley's number of readers

Follow-up to Webometrics and altmetrics: digital world measurements from Library Research Support

I once blogged about Altmetrics and the tool Total Impact, which seemed to use the Mendeley API for tracking papers’ popularity.

I had another look at Total Impact lately and it has been worked on: I can’t give it my Mendeley profile any more, and in fact it didn’t do anything at all for me, but it is in beta and so I sent them some feedback explaining that I got nowhere with the tool, and we shall see.

So, I went directly to Mendeley, and you can see how many “readers” there are for a paper in the results of a search there, but that information is not displayed with the paper’s information once you have added it to your own library or to your list of “my publications” for display on your profile. I was disappointed that apparently only one of my papers is “open access” according to Mendeley’s search filter, even though they are in WRAP and so they are open access... I'm not sure what Mendeley's criteria is for a paper being "open access" according to its search filter.

From what I can tell in the FAQs on the Mendeley site, number of “readers” in Mendeley is the number of distinct users who have added the paper to their Library on Mendeley. It doesn’t actually mean that they’ve read the paper: I added a handful of papers that look interesting to my own Library that I have never read. It’s more of a wish list!

And then I played around with Google some more, to see if there were other tools that were accessing Mendeley’s “reader” numbers API, and I came across Readermeter which looks really interesting because you can give it the author’s name and get all sorts of stats back in a pretty format!

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:

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 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, 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 25, 2012

Guest post by Lindsay Green: Multi–Author Blogging

Lindsay Green works as an Academic Support Officer in the Library, handling enquiries, creating tutorials and investigating new ways that the Library can support the University of Warwick's academic community. She attended a recent event and blogs about it here.

Mark Carrigan ran an excellent session on Multi-Author Blogging in the Wolfson Research Exchange at the end of May. The main points I took from the session are as follows:


  • No right or wrong way to blog
  • Feelings of guilt – not coming up with a regular blog entry
  • If not frequently updated, less likely to be viewed by others

Multi-author blog advantages

  • Greater frequency of posting of blogs if multi-authored
  • Range of authors leads to more ideas being blogged about – variety
  • Makes the blog more dynamic
  • Attracts readers → attracts writers → becomes more self-sustaining

Suggestions for successful multi-author blogging

1) Keep content back, creating a store of content to use when nobody is able to create a post. This helps encourage frequency of updates, in turn helping avoid loss of interest by readers which is likely to happen if no new content is appearing.

2) Look at purpose of blog:

  • what is to be published
  • what is not published
  • consider what readers will gain from visiting the blog regularly

3) Consider who in the team is responsible for doing what

4) Promotion of blog:

  • Consider existing channels e.g. H-netfor humanities scholars
  • Make sure domain name is registered
  • Set up Twitter feed, automatically tweeting new posts
  • Announce to other websites, feature guest blogposts from other sites

5) Sustain the blog:

  • Frequent updates, suggests 1-2 a week more constantly rather than e.g. 5 in one week then gap
  • Engage with readers – tweet for more details about things you are blogging about
  • Clarification – refine your purpose, evolve and change according to circumstances

Useful links

May 02, 2012

Guest post by Sam Johnson: Funded by the Wellcome Trust? Get funding for open access publishing fees

Today’s post is from Sam Johnson, Academic Support Librarian for Life Sciences, Medicine & Psychology, and the University of Warwick’s main contact for information about funding to cover the publication fees of Wellcome Trust-funded research.

Are you working on or have you recently completed research funded by the Wellcome Trust?
You will be aware that you are obliged to publish your research in an open access (OA) publication, so that anyone can access and read your findings in full text. OA costs can be quite considerable and in recognition of this, the Wellcome Trust has given the University a sum of money to support the open access publication of its research.

Why Open Access Publishing?
The aim of open access publishing is to disseminate research as widely as possible and to make the full text of current research easily available to anyone in the world. Open access publishing also helps to raise the impact of your research and your own research profile by making it more visible and easily accessible. Whilst OA is great news in terms of generating visibility for your research, the OA publication costs are the responsibility of the author/s and they can be quite significant..

The Wellcome Trust, along with most research funders, have an OA policy that mandates that their funded research is disseminated as widely as possible to maximise the impact and value of the findings. For more information see their Author’s FAQs.

Apply for OA Wellcome funding
Please email for an application form. This will then be forwarded to Research Support Services for processing. Applications will need to come in soon as the funding needs to be spent by the end of September.

April 03, 2012

Guest Post: Emerald Author’s Workshop at Warwick – Guide to Getting Published

On 29th March 2012 we invited publisher Emerald to present their ‘Guide to Getting Published’ at the Research Exchange. Many thanks to Sharon Parkinson for her very informative presentation; I wanted to share some of the best tips and advice to come out of the session…

Advice on getting published in journals:

1) Pick the right journal: This might seem obvious, but it was interesting to hear that the majority of rejections made by journal publishers were still due to the article being submitted to an inappropriate journal. You will need to:

  • Consider who you research audience is, what they want to know, and what they are reading.
  • Read at least one issue of a journal before you choose to submit work for it.
  • Make sure you consider usage rates as well as journal rankings (which you are more interested in will depend on your motivations for publishing and what you hope to achieve with your work). Emerald suggested most editors would be happy to provide you with usage/download rates for a journal.

2) Send the editor an abstract: This is a great way to avoid problem 1. If you have done your research, but are still unsure if your paper is right for the journal, send an abstract to the editor asking for their opinion on its suitability. Check the author’s guidelines for the publisher you’re contacting to make sure your abstract fits their specifications. (Emerald’s can be found here:

3) Treat it like a job application: I’m not a fan of analogies, but this one seemed too apt to ignore. Much like you would tailor your CV to each position, Emerald emphasised the importance of tailoring your submission carefully to suit the journal/publisher you are approaching. You can also include a cover letter which, like a job application, should focus very clearly on what your paper has to offer to the journal and its readership, rather than on the benefits for yourself.

4) Get your own peer review: Don’t underestimate the value of getting an objective view; someone who isn’t close to your work will find it much easier to critically appraise it. From a personal perspective, I’ve always thought it useful to have someone outside of your field read your work; they tend to be able to spot jumps in your logic very easily.

5) Don’t give up: Getting a paper rejected is very common and shouldn’t deter you. Get feedback from the editor, work on their points and resubmit elsewhere. Also, requests for revisions can be seen as a very positive step – if a publisher has taken the time to do this, then they have obviously seen potential in your work, so don’t give up at this stage.

Advice on getting books published:

1) Make it travel: Obviously the key difference from publishing in journals is that a book must have considerable commercial appeal. Therefore, it needs to be of interest to and accessible by a wide audience: know your market and make sure your work has reach.

2) Attend a publishers’ conference: Emerald were clear that if you want your book commissioned, conferences are the place to be. You can contact a publisher in advance to book an appointment with a commissioning editor at the conference. Arrive prepared – you should complete a detailed proposal form and be ready to answer the publisher’s queries.

3) Keep track of time: You need to be aware of the time constraints that apply to book publishing. Since the publishers will need to promote the book and publicise its release date, you can’t afford to fall behind. Make sure you discuss targets and timescales carefully with the editor and any other involved authors at an early stage.

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