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February 21, 2012

Webometrics and altmetrics: digital world measurements

Writing about web page

Research performance measurement often includes an element of output (or publication) counting and assessment, possibly including citation counts, and I've written a lot here about such bibliometrics and assessment.

The digital, web 2.0 world allows for many other, different kinds of metrics to be recorded and reported on, and could one day become a part of researchers' performance assessment, either just for themselves or indeed through more formal processes at institutional level or through an excercise like the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

I've linked to the altmetrics manifesto, and that has some very interesting contributions to the exploration of other kinds of metrics and measurements.

Note that PLoS One are running a special “collection” on altmetrics with a submission deadline just passed in January. And that if you’re an author with an article published by PLoS One, then the number of views for your article are displayed along with the metadata for your article. Warwick’s repository, WRAP, also shows download stats for articles these days, in the metadata records… eg:

The problem with web stats and altmetrics is that there are potentially a lot of sources which will all measure the stats for different versions of the same item, or different elements of the same output, in different ways. This sort of thing is a driver for publication in an open access (OA) journal with one canonical copy of an article in just one place online: the so called "gold" route to OA.

Authors of the future will want all web visitors to go to the publisher’s site, in order to boost the no. of viewers stated there. Well, some already do! But that rather assumes that the publisher will also provide all the functionality for commenting and reviewing and interaction with the research that the authors might like to see, and that the publisher will provide suitable measures to the author, and that the only route for publicising and making your work discoverable that is necessary, is the formal publication route...

The other route to OA is known as the "green" route, and it involves putting an earlier version into an OA repository (or more than one!) in addition to the canonical published version. All such versions should be clearly described and should point to the canonical one, ideally. This would allow for your work to be made available and promoted by all those repositories where you have deposited a copy or allowed a copy to be harvested, eg your institution and a subject specific repository.

The green route follows the "lots of copies keep stuff safe" mentality and contributes to ensuring the longevity of your research's availability and discoverability. And it could also enable new research techniques such as text mining to be employed on your outputs and thus build on your contribution to the discipline, if you've given suitable permissions at the deposit stage.

So, when it comes to altmetrics what we ideally need is some way of recording visitor stats and other metrics for all versions of one article, and collating these into one report.

The altmetrics site I've linked to has a page of tools which I had a play with recently: Here is the story of my "playing"!

I gave Total Impact my (rather scrappy) Mendeley profile. I have 3 articles to my name on Mendeley, and Total Impact picked up on 2 papers: in the event, only one of those was actually mine (something wrong in the metadata, I think), and that has had only 2 readers on Mendeley. Which is entirely believable, but not likely to be the “total impact” of my article!

Actually, I know it’s not the "total impact" because the same article is in WRAP and I can see additional visitors to the paper there, without even considering accesses on the journal's own site, but I guess that Total Impact doesn’t know about the other versions of that object.

I tried giving Total Impact a DOI instead… None of my articles have DOIs (I'm not an academic author: practitioner stuff only!), so I gave it the DOI for a different article (the record linked to above), and you can see the report:

Not much more impressive than my article, yet the WRAP stats are more impressive! So it could be that the problem is the size of the Mendeley community, and the fact that Total Impact is not picking up on visitors from elsewhere for articles.

I thought I’d give Total Impact another shot with my Slideshare profile. I’ve not been especially active in Slideshare either, but I have seen healthy stats for my handful of presentations last year. And Slideshare has a relatively large community of users. I like the Total Impact report structure for the Slideshare report: It gives info on tweets, facebook likes and other sources of data about the Slideshare items. That’s what I thought altmetrics ought to be!

Some of the other sites that Total Impact can work with are probably worth investigating, too: I don’t know about GitHub or Dryad. I looked GitHub up: and it seems that’s what I need to try next, to visit there to collate all versions of my articles!

There are other tools on the Altmetrics site that I wish I had time to try out, too!

This week, discussion on UKCoRR's mailing list raised the following altmetrics tool to my attention: I installed it on Chrome but couldn't get it to work with the articles I tried on Web of Science and on Cambridge Journals Online. The UKCoRR community are reporting that it doesn't pick up on the DOIs from their repositories either, so I guess it's just another thing that is in development.

January 26, 2012

Another place to put an academic profile

Follow-up to Warwick people on external profile sites from Library Research Support

There's another site that has just come to my attention:Academic Room

My first thought: nice idea but is it meant as a community resource for academics or a place where undergrads or wannabe undergrads can find lectures?

It is probably one to watch: it is in beta, I note. It is also incredibly slow in Explorer on my computer… and there are 11 people from Uni of Warwick on there, when I searched for "University of Warwick".

I'm sure that there are going to be lots more of these to watch, and I'll keep collecting them here!

January 23, 2012

Warwick people on external profile sites

Follow-up to 1,670 Warwick people on from Library Research Support

Since discovering 1,670 Warwick people ostensibly on last week, with a predominance of those coming from social science subjects, I have been looking at some of the other "profile" sites, and the number of University of Warwick people I can find on those sites.


Not especially for academic use or for researchers but a lively enough place to be and aims to be professional at least. I used the Advanced search, looking for "University of warwick" in the company field and selected "current" only: 2,705 results. (NB, with the filter set to "current or past" I got 4,042 results.) People I'm connected to came up first, including a former colleague who has left, so "current" only means what people are declaring as current, of course! Most of the people I'm connected to are other support workers at the University, so I didn't get a feel for researchers using the space: I'd need to upgrade my account to see all 2,705 results, it seems. I tried changing the "sort" mechanism for my results, to get a different flavour, and I did find professors, students and lecturers but essentially this number of results requires a little bit more work than I have time or budget for, to analyse properly.


A search for people using "university of warwick" found me 58 results. These are not neatly arranged by departments, and a glance through the results tells me that most are PhD students and there is a dominance of science disciplines. One is a former library colleague who has since left the University of Warwick, so again, I cannot be sure that these people are current or active users of the site. A few seem to have nothing at all to do with the University of Warwick. This site does allow for profile information to be uploaded, and papers etc, but it is intended as a reference management tool, and more.

This only seems to allow me to search for scientists within so many miles of a particular location. I tried "coventry" and "warwick" with the default distance of within 10 miles and got 0 results on either. I changed it to within 3000 miles of "warwick" and only got 85 results... there were 0 results for within 3000 miles of "london", so I think I'm going to give up on this site.


I searched on this site for "university of warwick" and came up with 313 Researchers in the results. It also picked up on 7 conferences and over 10,000 publications. Many of the 313 researchers were those with the University of Warwick on their CV, so are former members, it seems. It was pretty difficult to tell which departments or disciplines they were from by scanning through the names, but of those who declared a department at all, it seemed to me that there was a general science/maths/engineering emphasis.

I had a (very) quick look at the conferences and the publications but I'm not sure yet, how this site might work for researchers. It does seem to me to be based around fostering networking and sharing activities online. The publications included lots of stuff by people with the surname "Warwick" and an obituary for someone with that surname, so I doubt that it is going to be great as a source of academic publications... although i ought to explore their searching options in more detail before judging, really. I spotted one paper from one of our authors, and it was a record only, uploaded by her colleague at the Uni of Bristol, who has a profile.


I searched for 'warwick' in the institution field on ResearcherID and got 30 results. 'university of warwick' yielded 193 results. Added together, these two sets make 223. I didn't tick the box to include past institutions in either instance. Glancing through the keywords entered by our researchers, (though fewer than half of them have entered keywords) I'd estimate that most are scientists and there are a handful of social scientists on there. Which makes sense to me, given the subject coverage strengths of Web of Science.

Google Scholar

Brian Kelly of UKOLN blogged about these profiles in November last year: he found 23 profiles for Warwick. I just found 59. To see what can be found, you need to click on "My Citations" on the top right of Google Scholar, and then you can search for people with public profiles. You can also choose whether to make your own profile public or not from here. It's pretty simple to create a profile, especially if you already have a Google account. Probably a space to be watched, especially as academics start getting more and more interested in citation reports...

H-Net Humanities Net: I did a quick search in the e-mail address field of people on this network, for "" and got 20 results. This site interests me as it seems to match real world connections and to meet very specific needs.

Nature Networks

A quick search for "warwick" in the affiliation field of the People area of this site identified 17 people. This is a site I'd love to have time to explore a bit more... and I rather suspect that most publishers will have similar authors' sites.

I should just say at this point that I don't consider either Twitter or Facebook to be academic profile sites. I am primarily interested in sites which attempt to raise researchers' profiles with other researchers. I don't have time to investigate all sites of interest right now, but some others which might be worth keeping an eye on include:

COS Scholar Universe (Related to Refworks reference management tool)

Authors registered with RePEc (Economics papers site)

SSRN - Social Science Research Network (A repository really, but has authors' details as authors create profiles in order to upload papers and their descriptions. Aims to connect researchers with each other. Appears not possible to search for authors by institution. Law and Business school bias?)

I was interested in Labmeeting for a while, but I notice from TechCrunch that it has entered their Deadpool!

The proliferation of social networking sites for researchers is hard to keep track of. Lots of these sites go way beyond hosting profile information. I can't see any particularly popular uptake at the University of Warwick, unless you count LinkedIn, which is not attempting to be a specialist site.

January 19, 2012

1,670 Warwick people on

Follow-up to A discussion of from Library Research Support

Almost a year ago, I wrote about on this blog (8 Feb 2011). Back then, I found 762 people from the University of Warwick on there. This population had grown since the summer of 2010 when there were 276 profiles of University of Warwick people. So there appears to be a steady-ish growth of profiles on, but nothing exponential seems to be happening. I've always thought that the success of profile sites like this is dependent on communities of users growing. I'm still watching to see where and how researchers might be connecting online.

Note that I'm not sure how I calculated the number of people on previous occasions. Yesterday, I went to this address and expected to see a total number on display, but it wasn't there and I wrote to to ask how it might be calculated. To get the figure this year, I simply typed into the search box "University of Warwick" but did not hit enter, and the number of results for this phrase was 1,670. I suspect that I didn't do that last year, but I can't be sure...

Also, although the number appears to have grown, I have no way of knowing whether these profiles are current and I rather suspect that some have been abandoned: I know of one individual who has left Warwick and not changed his profile. So, I'm not sure how accurate any such figure actually is.

It is interesting to see the subject break-down at the page, which tells me numbers of people for each department, and also numbers of papers. This gives me an idea as to which departments appear to be more active in their use of the site. I propose that where people are uploading information about their papers, it is an indicator that they are taking more trouble over their profiles and so are more active on the site in some way (though it could be that the people on the site are not yet authors... and all sorts of other factors!).

The department with the most papers on is our Politics and International Studies department: 268 papers. They are also the department with the most people, 77. The Warwick Business School is not far behind with 68 people but only 125 papers. Sociology, Philosophy, History, Economics and Law all have over 40 people. The department with a decent number of people and the best ratio of papers to people seems to me to be Computer science, at a glance.

So it seems to me that there is some interest amongst the social sciences at Warwick, although whether this has come from a community of use around this subject area or because of something which might have happened in our Faculty of Social Science to promote this site or profiles on the Internet in general, I am not sure...

I'll keep watching these spaces and investigating!

November 24, 2011

Academics at Warwick with Google Scholar profiles

Writing about web page

As if our academics didn't have enough to worry about, with their Wikipedia biographies and their ResearcherID profiles and sites like LikedIn and vying for their attention, now there are Google Scholar profiles as well!

I'm glad that Brian Kelly has blogged about it already. Brian Kelly's post has a table of Russell Group Universities, showing that Warwick has 23 Authors with GScholar profiles already, one week after the launch! I clicked on the link in his post and got to see the 23: some I recognise, a few are PhD students and most are from science/medicine backgrounds. Something to keep an eye on!

November 23, 2011

Academics at Warwick listed on Wikipedia

Writing about web page

Are you/your colleagues listed on Wikipedia? Did you know that they have a section for biographies of academics at the University of Warwick? You could edit wikipedia to add an article about yourself or your favourite Warwick researcher!

November 16, 2011

Hootsuite: keeping Twitter in its place!

Writing about web page

I've resisted the charms and attractions of Twitter, until recently. It keeps intruding into my professional life though, and I can't ignore it any longer! I go to an event and there is a hashtag advertised for twitterers to use. Or I can't go but I can look at the event website and follow the twitterers who are there, and so get a sense of what is happening. Twitter is undoubtedly useful but it needs to be kept in its place. I have enough to do!

Warwick PhD students on on the 23 Things for the Digital Researcher course have been asked to tweet, and as a co-ordinating tutor , I have wanted to show support for our course participants by tweeting too. (Does that make me a 'Twuutor'? I love all the fun to be had with the name 'Twitter'!)

We're using Twitter to keep in touch with researchers and PhD students who use the Wolfson Research Exchange (fondly known as REx) and who also tweet. The REx itself has a twitter account: @ResearchEx, but I want to tweet in my own name too, including the entries from this blog.

How do I tweet as both me and the REx and not lose hours of my life?! Here is the story of one possible answer...

I like to schedule my blog entries in advance when I have lots to write about and time to write it. So I asked a colleague who tweets and blogs (Emma Cragg:, whether it is possible to do this with tweets on Twitter. Emma tweeted to ask her contacts and back came the answer "". (Thanks to Emma and her Twits!)

I found that I need to use Hootsuite in Mozilla Firefox: like so many great tools, it doesn't work properly for me in Internet Explorer. No matter, I'm used to having at least 2 browsers open! With Hootsuite, I can now view on one screen for my own Twitter account, all the tweets of those who I follow, all tweets '@' me and any direct messages for me via Twitter. Then on another tab I can view the same for the REx Twitter account, and I've also added my LinkedIn account, so that from one tool, I can monitor several social networking sites. I could also add Facebook, but that is more for my real friends these days so I don't want to link that one to my other accounts...

Even more cleverly though, I can tweet from Hootsuite as myself or as the REx, or even post an update to LinkedIn... I never do that latter but maybe one day I might. And I can schedule my tweets, so I can write a load at the beginning of each week... and stay active on Twitter without having to be tied to it 24/7.

Let's hope that I can keep Twitter in its place, as a useful tool to share information about my work and possible also to communicate with professional contacts, and stop it from becoming a burden or a distraction... feathers crossed!

September 27, 2011

Recognition for your research

Writing about web page

Researchers are increasingly expected to be able to demonstrate their worth, and to have their research measured. There are different parties interested in measuring research, and the emphasis of each seems to vary:

  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF) excercise which determines UK government funding via HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England)
  • University management who want their departments to score well in the REF, but also to ensure that they are getting the best out of their staff (or the best staff!) and possibly also that the University scores well in published rankings.
  • The Research Councils UK: these guys are mandating open access publishing and good data management practice, and they are looking for how research will have impact. Their "Research Outcomes Project" lists the following types of outcomes that institutions are to report on:

· Publications
· Other Research Outputs
· Collaboration
· Communication
· Exploitation
· Recognition
· Staff Development
· Further Funding
· Impact

This list certainly gives food for thought about how research generates such outcomes.

It is also notable that it is the institution which is to report on such outcomes and reporting is not entirely down to the Principal Investigator.

September 12, 2011

Social media: thoughts then and now

Writing about web page

I wrote an article on the use of "web 2.0" techologies and their usefulness to libraries which was published in 2008 but which was based on work I did in 2007. Some recent correspondence has caused me to look back at what I thought would be useful then, and to reflect on whether I was looking in the right direction!

One big difference is that I was specifically investigating Web 2.0 sites and services in 2007 and I don't have the time to investigate properly these days, so if a web 2.0 or social media site is on my radar nowadays, it is because it serves a purpose to me.

I was rather focussed on Facebook in my article which is probably because I was thinking of the undergraduate population. Nowadays I hardly touch Facebook myself: we use it in the Library and for the Research Exchange, so it's not about my own profile there and I can save that for my real friends! Facebook actually support such organisational profiles these days, which they didn't back in 2007.

The feature of Facebook which I didn't write about then but which I think is significant now is the simple ability to "like" something. It's kind of like social bookmarking: we integrate buttons onto the guides on the Research Exchange site, for readers to "like" our materials, or to tweet them or e-mail them or otherwise share them. We noticed that when we promoted the Research Exchange Facebook page to new PhD students last year, a number of them "liked" us and that gave us an indication as to how many we had reached, who had come to visit us and find out more after we introduced ourselves to them. Facebook continues to be a useful tool, but in different ways than I was thinking back in 2007. My colleague Katharine Widdows also wrote about the Library's use of Facebook in 2009:

Nowadays I value LinkedIn a lot more than I did then, which is probably because LinkedIn itself has grown in both the size of its community and the functions it offers, since 2007. The people who I want to network with professionally are using LinkedIn, so it's something that I use too.

RSS feeds remain as useful and relevant as they were then, although I read fewer posts on fewer feeds myself these days and spend more time promoting the feeds available from databases as a way for researchers to keep up to date with newly indexed/published material which meets their search criteria.

I still like social bookmarking sites but I haven't really used them properly for organising my own favourites. I am like the proverbial plumber whose own house is full of leaks! I think that the "like" feature of Facebook is probably the best way to share things that you are interested in with your friends, and to be social but I still think that there are bookmarking tools/sites with a lot of potential... I'm just a bit out of date and out of practice in this arena. I probably use this blog to store and share useful sites, more than social bookmarking tools: it's an unsophiticated but effective enough tool, for me.

Intute is not being maintained any more: it closed in July this year. MyIntute never seemed to take off and it never became a social media site which was perhaps part of its downfall. The web is vast and growing all the time, but it seems that people value search engines rather than selected and catalogued collections. I wonder if/when this might change. Search engines do a great job of matching results to your search query intuitively, but they don't index the deep web and they don't select for quality. I'm following the development of Microsoft Academic Search with interest, because it might help to improve Google Scholar or indeed take over from it... but this is not really Web 2.0!

I have not visited Second Life since my investigations in 2008... I remember it fondly and I can see from lists and such like that other librarians are using it, but I said back then that the place for our Library would be to follow our students into such a space, and I think we're still waiting for such an occurrence really.

I didn't even discuss Twitter back then: I really didn't see the point of it and it was barely a year old. I have since learnt "the point" but I don't tweet properly myself: headings from this blog are sent out on Twitter and very occasionally I have tweeted at others whose tweets I have read and valued, but I know that I'm just a visitor and not a resident!

"The point" of Twitter, as I see it now, is the massive reach that it has: you just don't know what others are going to be interested in! When Yvonne Budden took over the repository from me in March 2010, she set up a twitter feed of all the latest additions to WRAP and could demonstrate that it brought visitors to those papers, and I was truly surprised. I have also learnt to explain when a presentation is not to be tweeted about because it is for attendees only!

Twitter is probably not for me. I mean, how would I put all this in 140 characters? I'm much happier blogging!

August 30, 2011

Publishing and Open Access discussions

A recent posting on a mailing list I belong to highlighted the following article by George Monbiot:

He makes an impressive case about the need for reform of scholarly communications, and there is plenty of debate in the comments section at the end of it!

Many people believe that open access is the aswer, and a set of briefing papers from Nottingham's Centre for Research Communications (CRC) has also crossed my desktop recently. I rather like the one from Salford's VC, Martin Hall:

None of this is new, and many of us have been working towards effecting changes in our own ways for years. Some of the comments on the end of Monbiot's article discuss whether 90% of articles can be found in full text online already. There are disciplinary differences and there are secrets to discovering the stuff that is out there. Google Scholar doesn't index papers on Mendeley, as I mentioned in this blog last week. Google itself indexes a lot more of the web than Google Scholar does, but you do have to know what you're looking for and be skilled in searching because it indexes a lot of non-scholarly stuff. And there are other places than Google to search, of course!

There is an "information divide" in terms of those attached to Universities (and therefore journals subscriptions) but also in terms of those with information skills. High level information skills will help you to find stuff if it is out there. It isn't really obvious at the moment what is out there... and publishers are pretty good at making sure that you find their stuff!

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