Monday, 8 January 2018

New research must be better reported, the future of society depends on it

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Understanding how and why things happen can help people make sense of the world. Pexels
Andy Tattersall, University of Sheffield

Newspaper articles, TV appearances and radio slots are increasingly important ways for academics to communicate their research to wider audiences. Whether that be the latest health research findings or discoveries from the deepest, darkest parts of the universe.
In this way, the internet can also help to facilitate these channels of communication – as well as discussions between academics, funders and publishers, and citizen scientists and the general public.
Yet all too often research-led stories start with “researchers have found”, with little mention of their names, institution and who funded their work. And the problem is that by reporting new research in this way, it fails to break down the stereotypical image of an ivory tower. For all readers know these “researchers” might as well be wearing white lab coats with the word “boffin” on their name badges.

Rolling news

News is now a 24-hour operation. Rolling coverage of stories means journalists have their work cut out in maintaining this cycle. But that is no excuse for missing out important pieces of information that underpin a story.
Take for example a story relating to health research that has wide ranging societal impact. Supporting evidence, links and named academics help a story’s authenticity and credibility. And at a time when “fake news” is an increasingly sticky problem it becomes essential to link to the actual research and therefore the facts.

Accurate reporting, it’s not rocket science. Pexels

This is important, because research goes through a peer review process where experts in the same field of research critically assess the work before it can be published. This is similar to news stories that are edited to ensure they are of good quality – although this process takes far less time.

Accurate reporting

In academia there has been a huge move to make research openly available and therefore accessible for the whole of society. While research institutions are making great strides in public engagement and the wider understanding of science, media organisations still remain instrumental in that process.
And while it’s been claimed that the public are tired of experts, the impact they have on society – from building skyscrapers to keeping us alive – is undoubtedly fundamental to our existence.

Science and technology have changed the way we work, communicate, and view the world. Shutterstock

But poor or incomplete reporting undermines respect for experts by misrepresenting the research, especially by trivialising or sensationalising it. So while academics from various disciplines are often willing to talk to the media – either as an author or from an independent expert viewpoint – misreporting of research and particularly data (whether intentional or unintentional) has a negative effect.
Academics are then vilified as having something to hide or accused of making up their research, while members of the public are exposed to unnecessary anxiety and stress by inappropriate headlines and cherry picked statistics that are reported in a biased way.

The public good

Of course, not everyone will want to check the citations and research outputs – and not everyone has the critical skills to assess a piece of specialised academic writing. Yet there are lots of people who, given the opportunity, would be interested in reading more about a research topic.
Media coverage opens up a democratic debate, allows people to explore the works of an accomplished researcher and helps the public understanding of science. And in this way, fair and accurate reporting of research encourages academics to be willing to work with the media more regularly and build good working relationships.
The ConversationNot only that, but the proper and accurate communication of science is beneficial to the whole of society – from the government to its citizens. So in the age of “fake news” it is more important than ever to make sure that what’s being published is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Andy Tattersall, Information Specialist, University of Sheffield

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Start Now and Make 2018 The Year of Hassle-Free Organisation

Image of Sheldon Korpet
Sheldon Korpet
Information Officer
I often want to try something new at work to see if I can improve on my previous efforts. However, the more routine (required) demands are always compete for my time too 😒 Sound familiar?

Whether you’re a super busy student or a new professional, keep reading to learn a new way to organise your work tasks and make focused progress 👍

You Can't Do Everything at Once

At the start of the year I ran a “goodie bag promo” project and as a result our small library is getting more footfall, more inquiries and more complex questions, which is really nice to see. However, it does mean further time constraints.

I got sick of 'To Do' lists   mine always looked messy or I lost them or had seven going at once so I inevitably forgot things they were meant to remind me to do! 🙅📝

One of the things that has enabled me to up my capacity, without forgetting any important things, was starting to use a Personal Kanban board.

What is Kanban?

I first heard of this method through my Business Management degree. It's a system which aims to keep tasks moving through the workflow and I’ve adapted it slightly to fit with the re-occurring, never-ending tasks.

This is All Fabulous But How Does It Work?

Tasks are assigned to four categories and as you progress you can move them closer to competition:
1 Could do/ should do – this is where you store ideas, work tasks assigned, upcoming projects or things you’re putting off. You haven’t started these yet but you might in the future.
2 Doing – These are your current tasks for the day/week. Do not put more than three things in here to stay productive! You could also assign yourself a deadline for these tasks.
3 Ongoing - This is where I store all those never ending tasks like asking people to renew their books. For a student this might be "Weekly reading for HAR679". I can move it in to “Doing” so I know what I’m focusing on and this is also an area to store projects which you've had to put on hold while waiting on a response from someone else.
4 Done – this is without a doubt the best bit on the board for me. When it’s blank it motivates me to work hard and complete something so I can start to fill it. When it’s full I can bask in my own glory 👸

For this project you're going to need a template and some small sticky notes

Personal Kanban in the Library

As you can see, I’ve gone for an A4 piece of paper with sticky notes but you could use larger paper or create a digital version in Trello or Padlet which would let you access it anywhere. However, I leave this at my enquiry desk  and I get some level of satisfaction from physically moving the post-its.

Either way, it’s a great method to track your progress and hold yourself accountable to get projects finished in good time; instead of taking on about ten things at once:

☑️ Stay focused 
☑️ Make progress 
☑️ Reducing the risk of non-completion

Having project ideas or tasks recorded in “Could do/should do” but not rushing in to them also has the added benefit of giving time for you to reflect. This might be on what would be the best way to go about them or helping you realise if it’s even necessary to spend your time on this.

You Can Do It

The great thing about this method is that it’s cheap and easy. There’s nothing worse than procrastinating and wasting time getting organised – you can make your own template in a few minutes or download the one I made here.

If you give it a shot, I’d love to know! Feel free to tweet me a photo or let me know if you found it useful @SheldonKorpet

Monday, 27 November 2017

Andy Tattersall talk at Spot On 2017 at The Francis Crick Institute

Andy Tattersall gave a short lightning talk on the title: "Isn't it time we had a research equivalent of the learning technologist?" at this year's Spot On Conference at The Francis Crick Institute. The recording of the talk and the questions afterwards can be viewed below with the abstract.

Researchers increasingly need to understand a multitude of topics including digital copyright, impact, altmetrics, communications, social media, research data management and sharing, open access, infographics, video, animation and mobile apps. Yet all too often they have little time, support or encouragement to explore these topics and have they need to make informed judgements on the most appropriate technologies.
For decades skilled professionals have provided researchers with excellent services around collection management, content curation and discovery, critical appraisal and reference management among other services. More recently they have stepped into new areas of support and applied their knowledge around social media, metrics, scholarly communications and research data management. Yet despite this there has been no formal role to step into departments and faculties to address the shortfalls of support at the research coalface. The idea of the research technologist is a professional role who like a Swiss Army Knife is adapt at utilising new tools and technologies to support a modern, fit for purpose, research cycle. The purpose of the workshop would be to discuss this idea and whether the research community believes it is something they would benefit from and what areas they most need frontline support.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Andy Tattersall named as a Jisc Social Media Superstar for 2017

Andy Tattersall has been named in Jisc's top ten HE Social Media Superstars of 2017. Andy was nominated for the award after his work creating ScHARR’s YouTube channel, Andy’s video series’ include ScHARR Bite Size series which teaches the viewer “something new in 20 minutes”.  His Research Hacks series contains 44 helpful videos, and the more recent Cite Hacks series features engaging illustrations and information – such as this video that covers blogging about your research.  
Judges’ comments: Andy’s use of YouTube playlists to give bite-sized information is a really effective way to share knowledge simply with colleagues and peers across the world.  We thought the Cite Hacks series was particularly is good.
Andy said about social media
“Higher education is now in a continual state of change thanks to the web and social media, it offers a wealth of new opportunities for teaching and learning, knowledge sharing and opening up of our resources across the globe. Video plays an important part of that change as it allows bite size, cheap, accessible knowledge that is shared on all platforms and in the classroom, lab, or even on the bus.”
As well as @Andy_Tattersall, Andy can be found tweeting from @ScHARRSheffield and @MultiMediaIT . Each winner not only makes the top ten list, but also wins an edtech experience for their class, robot and virtual reality included. The competition sets out to celebrate the innovative ways in which social media is being used in HE to add value to sector-practice.

The final line-up was chosen by a panel of HE and social media experts, including; Jisc’s social media team, Sarah Knight (head of change – student experience), and award-winning social media editor for Times Higher Education, Chris Parr.
Richard Tatnall, digital communications manager at Jisc said:
“What really impressed me was the impact our superstars are making with their social media activity. We saw great examples of reaching vast audiences with a single message on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, as well as making big impacts on a small, defined audiences in closed and private networks. There’s no question that social media can be highly resource intensive so being able to demonstrate the value it delivers is vital and our superstars were able to do this in spades.”

Friday, 3 November 2017

Andy Tattersall interviewed by the Librarians Aloud Podcast

I was really delighted to be interviewed by Laura Rooney Ferris for the popular Librarians Aloud Podcast alongside Jan Holmquist. In the podcast I talk about scholarly communications, digital academia, open access and data. You can listen to the podcast here 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Andy Tattersall at Internet Librarian International

Image of Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall
As with the previous six years (it might be longer), I attended the popular and exciting conference Internet Librarian International. I've given numerous talks there over the last few years and had a year off last year to moderate a really superb session titled 'Come and feel the love'. This year I returned to the speakers lectern, not to deliver one, two, but three talks. I had pitched two in which were accepted and had an invite by the conference organisers to make it a trio. This put me in the brackets as such luminaries Phil Bradley and Marydee Ojala by giving multiple talks this year.

The first was at the end of day one where I talked about the video collections I have created as part of my role using tools like Adobe Spark and Videoscribe. I was alongside a really good presentation on content creation by The King's Fund by Hong-Anh Nguyen (a member of Sheffield's iSchool Alumni) and Deena Maggs. With three presentations, I felt like I was going into a sporting tournament where I was keen to get my first fixture under my belt. 

The next one followed after hearing David White from The University of Arts deliver a superb keynote. David is a very engaging speaker who I've had the pleasure of delivering a webinar alongside him for a couple of years ago. His talk was on the opportunities to be had for librarians in a world of misinformation and people looking for quick and agreeable answers. I then gave my talk on the future or research support and potential roles that could appear in the future to deliver them at the coal face of research. I was introduced by Phil Bradley which was a real pleasure and was fortunate to have quite a packed room for the session. At the the end there was some useful debate as to where we might be going with this.

Finally, to finish on a high note I presented in the same session as four wonderful Irish librarians who between them have created two really informative and entertaining podcast series for their institutions - pretty much in their own time. The first of the talks was delivered by the team who the produce LibrariansAloud Podcast which regularly interviews professionals from within the library and information sector. I was also pleased to be in the same session as colleagues who deliver the enjoyable Shush Radio Podcast who spoke about their work making podcasts to promote their library service at University College Cork. My talk was about the work that myself and fellow ScHARR information specialist Mark Clowes undertakes each year to run a 24 hour pop up radio station to support the Inspiration for Life event to raise funds for local cancer charities. As a result of the session I was taken off to a quiet spot to be interviewed by Laura Rooney Ferris from LibrariansAloud for a future podcast, where you will hear us solve most of the world's problems with the aid of good quality information.

As always Internet Librarian International is a well run conference with lots of energy that brings together regular faces as well as new ones. There was even a session for new professionals to help them on the right track career-wise. Another bonus of a really enjoyable conference was hearing that my book had sold out on the Facet Publisher's table, although I'm fairly certain they will have only packed one. Below are all my slides from the conference, the 24 Hour Inspire set seem to have gone strange after being imported into Slideshare, apologies for that. Seriously, who would want to work with technology?

Friday, 6 October 2017

Should Academic Libraries offer a policy or service for Text Data Mining?

Sheldon Korpet (Information Officer in ScHARR Library) reports on a Masters research project she undertook for the University of Sheffield Library.

While Text Data Mining (TDM) is not completely unheard of within Librarianship, it was a very unfamiliar area to myself and two other MSc Digital Library Management students at the University of Sheffield. We are tasked with exploring this area and how the library could support its growing popularity across disciplines.

Image of Sheldon Korpet
Download the report
What is TDM? 

TDM is a way of analysing data computationally. It can be used to look for themes and sentiment within documents or to compare documents’ word usage or sentence structure to determine similarity.

Why is TDM Important?

Scholarly publications are increasing at an overwhelming rate. TDM has helped the researchers we have interviewed deal with increasingly large amounts of information by examining it in new ways and deal with information overload. The ability to examine huge data sets has also enabled the study of social media data which would have been vastly time-consuming or simply impossible to analyse.

Who Uses TDM?

 On undertaking our interviews we were able to find researchers from all five of the University of Sheffield’s subject faculties, including Mark Clowes, Information Specialist at  ScHARR. These methods are being used widely, beyond computer science. However those researchers interviewed often spoke of a need for programming or statistical knowledge to be able to exploit the technology to its fullest extent.

How Could an Academic Library Support TDM?

 Academic libraries already host information and digital literacy skills programs, maintain publisher connections and content collections. In addition they have copyright specialists and have subject-neutral spaces. These key assets could help researchers access the information they need and counter the legal challenges of TDM to support its growth.

Read the report to learn what we recommended the University of Sheffield Library could do to support TDM in its institution.

A Practical Class Project

 Myself, Erica and Bálint decided to release this report in to the wild thanks to the recommendation of our supervisor, Dr Andrew Cox, and our interview participants — many of whom found the end result of interest.

Images of Sheldon, Erica and Balint
Left to right: Sheldon, Erica and Bálint

  • Sheldon Korpet is an Information Officer in the School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield.

  • Dr EricaBrown is working in Scholarly Communications at the University of Manchester.

Useful resources

Fact Sheet: Text Mining — NLPN
Text & Data Mining — University of Cambridge Library LibGuide