Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Teaching Junior Doctors the Benefits and Barriers of the Social Web - Presentation from Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference

Image of Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall
Last week I attended the second Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference held at Sheffield Hallam University. I'd been lucky in being accepted to speak at both conferences with last year's talk about my Research Hack videos. The conference is a lively and engaging event for anyone involved in teaching and learning with an interest in social media.

The day started with a key not, (not keynote) which was an introduction to the theme for this year's conference - The Empowered Learner?
Image of conference
Giving my presentation in my Christmas jumper
After that we were rushed off in several small teams to carry out our own hack projects to create digital resources to support digital learners. Thankfully we had been given the full run of the new and impressive Charles Street Building so quickly located a desk with a large screen in one of the many open learning spaces. Along with four other team members we set to work on creating an Adobe Spark video that explained how students and academics should seek for online information in a 'Post-Truth' world. We had just short of an hour but managed to create a three minute video that explained the problem of poor quality information and how to critically appraise and avoid it when learning and conducting research. I'm pleased to say that our group was one of the winners and as a result we won a gold chocolate medal each, which my daughter happily accepted to eat and share in the celebrations.

My presentation was one of six Thunderstorm sessions and was about my Masterclass ILA which I have run for the last couple of years for fourth year medical students. The abstract is below.

Image of sketch note by Deb Baff
Sketchnote of my talk @debbaff
The purpose of this presentation will be to showcase the teaching I deliver to 4th year medical students at The University of Sheffield. The series of five two hour classes called Masterclass ILAs (Inquiry Based Learning Activity) focus on the social and mobile web and how the students can gain a better understanding of it as junior doctors. The sessions are an opportunity for students to build upon their own experiences of social media in a personal and professional setting and how they can use these and other technologies to their advantage once they qualify as a medical professional. The sessions explore the problems large organisations such as the NHS have in staying up to date with such as social media and how they can negate potential problems they can cause. The feedback from running these sessions has so far been excellent and more are planned for later this year.

The short set of slides from my talk can be viewed below.

Image of Conference delegates
One of the winning teams - me on the right
Delegates were encouraged to attend and wear their best Christmas jumpers, which I gladly did. Sadly though my DJ Santa top didn't sway judges and I missed out on a second prize for the day, you win some and lose some. The conference was a great opportunity to see what colleagues from around the UK were doing with social media in Higher Education. I'm already looking forward to next year's conference as it seems this popular event can only go from strength to strength as more educators discover the benefits of using social media as part of their teaching.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Identifying evidence for economic models - notes from a workshop

Mark Clowes
Mark Clowes
Mark Clowes recently attended one of ScHARR's short courses, a one-day workshop entitled "Identification and review of evidence to inform cost-effectiveness models".

I've only been working in health technology assessment for 18 months but the big difference from previous roles I've held is that I'm often working alongside colleagues from very different professional backgrounds; and I hoped that this course would help me to understand their work better and see where my contribution fits in.

The participants were from a wide variety of backgrounds: technology assessment centres, university, pharmaceutical companies and private consultancies.

Suzy Paisley explained how during her time at ScHARR she had progressed from searching for clearly focussed systematic review questions of clinical effectiveness to the infinitely more complicated universe of economic models.  Models typically involve a wide range of different parameters in an attempt to reflect the complexities of real life, and identifying evidence for them is therefore much less "black and white".  Rather than producing a single comprehensive search strategy to find all the evidence, a model is likely to draw on many different types of evidence from different perspectives; and while a systematic approach is still required, it would be impossible for an information specialist to find (or a modeller to use) ALL the evidence.  Instead, transparent judgments should be made about what is included or excluded; there is no perfect model, but a "good" model will be explicit about the choices and decisions and sources of evidence which have informed it.

Paul Tappenden gave us an introduction to modelling, beginning by quoting George Box's famous maxim that "all models are wrong... but some are useful".   He argued that any model should always begin with a conceptual stage, at which decisions are made about the disease logic model (considering the "natural history" of the disease and taking into account factors such as the likelihood of progression, different risk groups etc.); the service pathway model (the patient's journey through different stages of treatment - which may be subject to geographical variations) and the design-oriented model (what type of model will best address the decision problem?  This may also be influenced by the availability of evidence and the previous experience of the modeller).

A group exercise in which we attempted some conceptual modelling around a topic quickly made us realise the complexity involved as, in order to calculate whether a fictional drug was cost effective, we would need a wealth of information: not only the obvious (evidence of its clinical effectiveness and cost) but information on its possible adverse effects to be weighed up against quality of life studies of patients living with the condition; information on resource use (cost of administering comparator treatments / best supportive care) and mortality (indicating how many years it would be likely that the treatment would have to  be provided.

Some of these data are unlikely to be found in traditional trials, and so over lunchtime we were given worksheets to explore alternative sources (including disease registries, statistics and official publications, and our own ScHARR-HUD database for studies around health utilities).

The most challenging part of searching for evidence for economic models may be deciding when to stop.   How much evidence is enough, and how comprehensive is it necessary to be when you may need to conduct multiple miniature reviews to answer one main question?   I know from personal experience critiquing the searches run to inform manufacturers' economic models submitted for NICE appraisal how contentious this topic can be, but in a recent paper for the journal PharmacoEconomics, Suzy has attempted to define a "minimum requirement" for this type of search.

The final session of the day came from Prof. Eva Kaltenthaler, who heads the Technology Assessment Group at ScHARR.   Eva helped us understand how reviewers make judgements about which identified studies to include.   Frequently there is a tension between researchers' desire to be thorough and comprehensive in their coverage, and the needs of the decision makers who commission the review for the results to be delivered in a short time-frame.  Where this is the case, rapid review methods may be called for.   This might mean prioritising certain selection criteria over others, although which are deemed most important will depend on the context.  In some cases the geographical setting of retrieved studies may determine how relevant they are; in others the study type, or the cohort size.

Overall this was a useful and thought-provoking day, although for any librarians/information specialists who thought they had already mastered comprehensive searching, there was some "troublesome knowledge" to take on board.   As we work more closely alongside researchers we understand better that they don't want to be overwhelmed with mountains of evidence; they want to ensure all perspectives are covered but to avoid wasting time on studies which do not make any difference to the final decision.  How information specialists can best support this information need remains a challenging question.  Will the boundaries will become blurred between our role in finding information and that of reviewers in sifting and evaluating it?  Are those of us without a previous background in medicine, economics or statistics (and let's be honest, very few of us are knowledgeable about all three) able to acquire sufficient skills in those disciplines to succeed in these shifting roles?

*NEWSFLASH* This course will be running again on 23rd March 2017 - find out more / book a place or see other short courses available from ScHARR.

Read Suzy Paisley's PharmacoEconomics article (2016): "Identification of Evidence for Key Parameters in Decision-Analytic Models of Cost Effectiveness: A Description of Sources and a Recommended Minimum Search Requirement"

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Small library? You need to think big: 10 top tips on how to use open days to promote your small but perfectly formed library service!

As a small, specialist library, we have to work hard to make sure our users (and potential users) know about the constantly changing range of services and collections we offer. Over the years we've run an occasional series of one-off  'open-day' events, including one just a few weeks ago (read all about it here)! If you work in a small (or even not-so-small) library, here are the 10 top tips, based on the lessons we have learned over the years, about how to host a successful library open day!

1. Plan, plan, plan. Organise a few meetings if you have a small team, and think first about what you want to achieve from the day- more users? better use of the collection? awareness of a new/underused service or resource? Make sure the day has a theme or focus of some kind.

2. Set a budget and find funding. Our open days have always been run on a shoestring, but it is worth thinking about whether there is any source of funding to support costs for food, drink, decorations, promotional materials or new things for the library. If there is no money to be found, at least planning in advance gives you time to beg, borrow and steal what you need!

Yes, we lure people to our library with cake. 
There, I said it.
Photo © Claire Beecroft
3. Allocate roles. We all have our particular strengths, so let the library team, however small, play to their's. Some might want to run the infoskills sessions (see tip 4), some might be great at decorating and giving the library a little makeover for the day.

4. Offer helpful, short infoskills sessions throughout the day. These were a huge success at our most recent away day. The trick is to keep them short, specify a time for each one, describe the topic of each one in a single sentence, and then promote them well in advance to ensure people can put them in their diary.

5. Bake. There is nothing, nothing on earth, like the lure of cake to get people through the door. Our whole team contribute by baking or buying- mostly by baking. Its worth planning this aspect too- we usually have a Google doc where people can list what they are baking, and this means we can make sure we have a nice variety and can cover all the bases- gluten free, dairy free, etc.

6. Call it what you want, but call it an 'Open Day'. It might sound strange, as the library is always open, right? But still, there is something about the phrase 'Open Day' that seems to work. It conveys the idea that all our welcome, even those who might not usually use the library, or who might not think that the library is really for them.

7. Tidy up the library and bring out the bunting if possible! Its really worthwhile putting up some decorations. Bunting is easy, as are ballons, banners etc. We have been known to make our own decorations, and lots have been brought in by the team or sourced cheaply from poundshops or eBay.

8. Showcase what's new. If you have some mobile shelving, trolley or stands, make sure the latest stock is on display prominently. If you have new electronic resources or websites that you want to draw attention too, fire up the PC/s and have these loaded and ready for people to try out.

9. Promote the heck out of it. Don't be afraid to use every possible channel to let people know what you are planning and that they are MOST WELCOME. Twitter, VLEs, Facebook, the library web page, flyers, etc are all good, and remember to promote the event well in advance AND on the day.

10. Put on your happy face and keep it on all day! This isn't usually hard for the IR gang at ScHARR- we LOVE a good open day, but just remember to keep smiling and send out good vibes from the library.

Posted by Claire

Monday, 28 November 2016

Working with the media can be beneficial but linking to and citing your research should be compulsory

Image of Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall
It’s great when academic research is covered by the media but too often this coverage fails to link back to or properly cite the research itself. It’s time academics insisted on this and Andy Tattersall outlines the benefits of doing so. As well as pointing more people to your work, the use of identifiers allows you to track this attention and scrutinise where and how your research has been used. At a time when academic work is vulnerable to misreporting, such a simple step can help ensure the public are able to view original research for themselves.
Academics are increasingly being sold the benefits of working with the media as an effective way of gaining impact and presenting their work to a wider audience. Yet all too often media coverage of research has no direct link to the research it is referring to. The general public are used to seeing news stories that say ‘researchers have found’ or ‘researchers from the university of’ yet these reports are often lacking when it comes to linking to or citing the actual research. Academics dealing with the media should make a point of insisting on linking to their original research outputs where applicable as there are several benefits. Given that Oxford Dictionaries just named ‘post-truth’ as their word of 2016, we need to do everything we can to ensure fact retains its importance in the reporting of research.

Allow the public to see for themselves what the researchers found

How research is framed in the media can be very important as not all research is reported accurately. Giving links so that readers can fact-check is almost effortless if the corresponding academic insists on this at the point of writing the story. Of course this depends on how accessible the research is but there should be a link to the open access version or at the very least the abstract of the research. Certain national newspapers are very good at cherry-picking parts from a piece of research to provide an attention-grabbing headline. This can be extremely problematic in the reporting of health news and websites such as the NHS’ Behind the Headlines addresses misreporting of health news stories. The problem is that most people reading the news are not aware of such resources, but adding the original link to the research in the hypertext or as a reference at the end of the paper copy gives readers direct access to the published work. Of course that does not mean they will read the original work, but it does open up the possibility. It also saves interested parties from trying to track down the original paper, the title of which is rarely reported in full, so what is lost by adding the links to the research? Remember, it is much harder for a journalist to misreport your work if you insist on linking to what you actually wrote.

Newspaper Stand by Yukiko Matsuoka.  CC BY 2.0 license.
Track mentions of your research

Tools such as Altmetric.com, Kudos and ImpactStory use unique identifiers to track the attention a piece of published research receives. So when someone publishes a peer-reviewed research article it receives a digital object identifier (DOI), or it could be a PubMed ID, ISBN, or other such identifier. If a piece of research is covered in the media and there is no link to the research via these identifiers it can miss out on being picked up by altmetric tools. The researchers may know about this coverage, and perhaps their institution’s media team might too, but what about departmental peers, managers, colleagues in the research office or library? What about the funders? All of these are interested parties and coverage in the media, whether this is a specialist research blog or an international publication, is worthy of attention, especially when we are trying to capture that elusive ‘impact’.

Follow the long tail of your scholarly communications

If you are a researcher working with the media to help disseminate your findings then it is presumable that you would be interested in how that research is being covered. With many online media platforms, whether blogs or news sites, it is common for an article to be republished elsewhere. If your work is covered on one media platform it might be picked up and published on another, and that second platform may carry more influence than the first. The problem is this: how do you know this has happened if there is no way of tracking back? Of course you might find your work covered on the web by carrying out a search, but that is hardly scientific. By insisting on linked DOIs or similar recognised identifiers then you should be able to discover where your news coverage has been republished using tools like Altmetric.com. In addition it allows you to discover how third party websites may have interpreted your research. You may not be interested in whether your research has been covered in the media, but I guarantee you would be if it was widely misreported.

Question the journalist’s motives

We cannot expect everyone who reads about published research in the media to fully understand what it might mean. That is why the media writes in such a way as to break down the scholarly communication into easier-to-read lay summaries. Yet researchers have to understand that if you work with the media it may report your research in a way that you do not totally agree with. Journalists may focus on one part of your research in particular, they may even be critical of it, and how they form the story may depend on their platform’s agenda, editor or owner. This problem is exacerbated by social media; the general population can now publicly comment on news stories and so potentially perpetuate the bias reported by inaccuracies in the original news story. The tone and angle applied by a journalist to a news story can potentially be addressed if links to the original research and lay summary are added to the news article.

If a journalist or news site is unwilling to link to your published research then you have to ask the question: why? Are they looking to put their own slant on your work and if so are they in a position of expertise to do this? The chances are that most have not thought about adding links or references to your work – they may not appreciate that you, your organisation or funding body might be interested in tracking it for impact. (Of course this leads to other questions around whether you should be talking about your research in the first place, but that is a conversation between you, your manager and funder.) The only way to address this is to ensure that all communications about your research with journalists, bloggers and media organisations are on the caveat that they track back to your published work and that this work has a unique, recognised identifier.

© LSE Impact Blog

What can researchers do?

Any academic knows that to cite another’s work in their own outputs they must cite it in the body text and add a reference to the research pointing readers to this supporting work. Students are taught this as being part and parcel of the process of conducting research. So it should follow that anyone dealing with the media should insist that their work is correctly cited and linked back to once online. Not only does this linking aid interested members of the general population find the research for themselves but also peers, research groups and bodies as well as other journalists and people working in the media.

You may not always be able to control how your research is reported in the media and how the general public talk about it, but you can do more to ensure readers get better access to the actual research. In addition you can do more to ensure that media coverage is picked up by altmetric platforms that will help build a picture of where your research is being discussed. Working with the media is a very valuable and rewarding opportunity to disseminate your research to wider audiences. By adding the checks and balances with links and references you ensure you get to see the long tail of conversation that takes place afterwards. A conversation that you will also be able to engage with and possibly benefit from.

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Impact Blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our comments policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License unless otherwise stated.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Wear Your Old Band T-Shirt To Work Day

This year colleagues from HEDS including Information Resources own Anthea Sutton Back row right) and Andy Tattersall (back row third from right) took part again in BBC Radio 6 Music's 'Wear Your Old Band T-Shirt To Work Day'.  Anthea donned her 2000 edition Blur t shirt, whilst Andy bent the rules a bit and wore an Upsetter Records t shirt, the label set up by Lee Scratch Perry. Frank the Skeleton can also be seen in a fetching Depeche Mode t shirt, also belonging to Anthea.
Our own Claire Beecroft sent a Portishead selfie from home.

The usual suspects…….2015’s post.

Image of HEDS staff
'Wear Your Old Band T-Shirt To Work Day'
Image of Claire Beecroft
Claire Beecroft

Monday, 14 November 2016

An Advanced Guide to using Social Media and the Web to Communicate and Measure your Research Impact - 1 day course: Wednesday, 25th January 2017

Image of Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall

Image of Claire Beecroft
Claire Beecroft
 Many academics and professionals are already using social media tools such as Twitter, blogging and ResearchGate as part of their work. Some are using the tools daily, whilst most just dip in and out of using them for a variety of reasons. Whilst Twitter and ResearchGate are useful, they are just a small part of a large set of tools that academics can use to communicate and network. Andy Tattersall and Claire Beecroft are running a one day workshop that helps academics and professionals make better use of the tools they may already be using.

Some academics are using the wrong tools and others just not getting the best out of them. Open access, data re-use and scholarly communications are opening up a myriad of further options on how research can be archived, shared and re-used, and the workshop will look at the options available to transform any academic into a modern digital academic.

Course Overview

This one day course will show academics and professionals who will have some experience of using some of these tools but are not quite sure how to maximise them and what other options exist. We will show you how to get more from your mobile device from presentations to conference calling, from taking polls to making videos, and how you can truly be a digital academic fit for the 21st Century.

We will look at the options around self-archiving and the benefits, barriers and pitfalls for doing so. The workshop will also look at different ways of communicating and sharing your research with special attention to infographics, video, podcasting and animation.
Communicating research is only part of the story and we will look at how altmetrics can be employed to show what is being said about your research and how you should respond. We will also explore the ethical and practical issues around open peer review and public comments and how you can deal with them.

Who will benefit from this course?
This short course will benefit a wide range of people including (but not exclusive of):
  • Researchers;
  • Masters and PhD Students;
  • Research Support Staff and Managers;

Course Materials

A copy of all course materials will be provided on USB (including presentations).  Participants are asked to provide their own laptop/tablet for the duration of the course

Date and Times
1-day course:  Wednesday, 25th January 2017
Start:  9:30 am
Finish: 4:30 pm


£TBC - Early Bird Rate for confirmed bookings received on or before Sunday, 27th November 2016
£TBC - Standard Rate for confirmed bookings received on or after Monday, 28th November 2016
Last Booking date for this course is midnight on Wednesday, 11th January 2017

Booking and Payment

Provisional bookings are now being accepted. Please email scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk to reserve your place. You will then be contacted when the course has gone live on the Online Store, where all our bookings are processed.

All our bookings are processed via our Online Store. Payment is by Credit/Debit Card or PayPal. If you are a UK organisation and would prefer to be invoiced, then please select this option on our Online Store and ensure that all invoice details are provided (contact email address, full address, purchase order number) and also forward a copy of the Purchase Order to scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk.
If you have any queries regarding our booking process then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Meals and Accommodation

The course fee includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day plus all course materials provided on USB and teaching fees.  NB:  Accommodation is NOT included.
If you have any particular dietary or access requirements then please contact the Short Course Unit with your requirements at the time of booking.


Halifax Hall Hotel & Conference Centre

Endcliffe Vale Road, Sheffield, S10 3ER.


For further information please do not hesitate to contact the Short Course Unit via email at scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk

 Tel +44 (0)114 222 2968

Thursday, 10 November 2016

ScHARR Library Open Day

The ScHARR Library welcomed all staff and students to its annual open day on Thursday 20th October 2016 . The Open Day proved to be very popular, and the library was busy throughout the day with students and staff. Our  Information Specialists provided a number of well attended drop-in sessions. There was also an exciting competition and if that wasn’t enough, there was a bake sale raising money for Amnesty International, in memory of our colleague Tony Mead.

Drop-in Sessions
Our Information Specialists shared their expertise:
  • Helen Buckley Woods presented an overview of IRIS - Information Resources Information Study Skills. This is an online course for ScHARR Students which assists with student Information literacy understanding and competency.
  • Magda Bell our resident expert on Inter-Library Loans and Copyright talked about the service offered in ScHARR and dealt with any copyright queries from staff and students
  • Anthea Sutton presented an overview  of the Systematic Review Toolkit, demonstrating how this tool can be used for searching, study selection, quality assessment and more.
  • Information Specialists deliver a session
    Information Specialists deliver a session
    Angie Rees talked about how to use and get the best out of Google Scholar. What it’s good for and what it’s not so good for.
  • Claire Beecroft  provided guidance on how to quickly and easily improve your searching to ensure nothing is missed by using citation searching and reference lists. Essential for all types of reviews.

Competition Time!
ScHARR Library Open Day Competition
Sonia Rizzo organised a tough but fun competition ‘Guess the 1st tune’ with lots of great prizes courtesy of Dialectable.  Liz Kitchen and Jean Hamilton came joint first in the competition and collected lots of lovely goodies!

Bake Sale - Raised £150 for Amnesty International!
Finally, there were lots of delicious home baked cakes made by the Information Resources team. These went down well with students and staff! An amazing £150 was raised  for Amnesty International,  in memory of our colleague Tony Mead. Tony worked in the ScHARR Library for nearly a decade and Amnesty International  was Tony’s favourite charity.

A big thank you to everyone who came to the Open day,  and a big thank you to everyone who helped out, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

App Hacks - Some of the best research and medical apps

Image of Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall and ScHARR Learning Technologist Dan Smith have created a series of short informative videos called App Hacks. The videos are to help academics and students, especially in a medical and healthcare setting see useful apps in action and make an informed choice as to their application and use. 
App Hacks Logo
App Hacks

The apps were captured on screen and gives potential users a basic but informative tour. The videos range from research and annotation tools like Mendeley to Evernote, to content creation like Adobe Spark and Haiku Deck as well as healthcare apps such as Medline Prime and NICE Guidance. The videos are hosted on the ScHARRvid YouTube Channel and soon on the University of Sheffield's iTunes U Channel.

The playlist can be viewed here:
App Hacks



Monday, 31 October 2016

ScHARR Information Resources Group at ISPOR European Congress

Image credit: Viennascape by Nic Piégsa
. This work is licensed under a CC BY 2.0 license.

This week, ScHARR Information Resources Group will be represented at the ISPOR 19th European Annual Congress by Suzy Paisley (Director of Innovation and Knowledge Transfer) and Anthea Sutton (Information Resources Group Manager).

Along with other members of the HEDS team, Suzy and Anthea are contributing to the busy conference programme with a poster presentation each.  Suzy on the topic of "Identifying Early Biomarkers of Acute Myocardial Infarction in the Biomedical Literature: A Comparison of Text Mining and Manual Sifting Techniques".  Anthea will be representing the Systematic Review Toolbox, in collaboration with Chris Marshall from YHEC.  Both posters can be viewed between the hours of 08:45 and 14:15 on Monday 31st October, with an author discussion hour at 13.15, do come along and find out about this work.

For the remainder of the congress, Suzy and Anthea can be found, along with the rest of the HEDS expert team, at exhibition Stand no. 20/21.  This provides a great opportunity to find out about opportunities to work with ScHARR to support key strategic developments in your organisation, to collaborate with us on research and to participate in our diverse, world class learning and teaching programmes.

The full ScHARR HEDS congress activity can be found here. We'll be tweeting from @ScHARR_IKT during the congress, so please follow us there.

Friday, 28 October 2016

LSE Book Review of Altmetrics: A Practical Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Academics

Image of Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall
Altmetrics: A Practical Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Academics, edited by Andy Tattersall, provides an overview of altmetrics and new methods of scholarly communication and how they can be applied successfully to provide evidence of scholarly contribution and improve how research is disseminated. The book, which draws on the expertise of leading figures in the field, strongly encourages library and information science (LIS) professionals to get involved with altmetrics to meet the evolving needs of the research community, finds Nathalie Cornée.

Altmetrics: A Practical Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Academics. Andy Tattersall (ed.). Facet Publishing. 2016.

Find this book: amazon-logo


Back in 2010, a new field of scholarly communication research was burgeoning: altmetrics. Altmetrics (initially standing for alternative metrics) are part of the broader range of scholarly metrics, such as the impact factor, citation counts or the h-index. They primarily intend to provide an indication of online and social media attention to any research outputs (as opposed to established metrics focusing mainly on peer reviewed publications only) by capturing their social influence. By doing this, they aim to improve our understanding about how information about research propagates, how it is used and how scholars are engaging with these new forms of scholarly communication.

Today, altmetrics are no longer regarded as alternative, but rather as complementary to traditional metrics. Many advocate their use as ‘early indicators’ of article usefulness. Indeed, research that used to take months or years to reach readers can now find them almost instantly via blogs, Wikipedia, social media networks, etc. Activities that used to be hidden, such as reading or downloading a paper, are now visible and therefore traceable (see Ben Showers, Chapter Four). Many stakeholders within academia are looking for new ways to measure how outputs are consumed online before they even start accruing citation counts (which take years for most disciplines).
In Altmetrics, the authors begin by explaining where altmetrics sit within the research landscape, the importance of research evaluation for scholarship and employment decisions, benchmarking purposes, funding opportunities, etc, as well as the notion of prestige or influence which is deeply rooted within academia.

Chapter Three, ‘Metrics of the Trade – Where Have We Come From?’ by Andrew Booth, provides a comprehensive review of the established metrics, and is a must-read for anyone less familiar with the broader world of scholarly metrics. By explaining their goal as well as their actual use in assessing individuals, groups or journal performance, Booth opens up the context in which altmetrics started to flourish and the gap that they have been trying to fill.
Throughout the book, Andy Tattersall insists on the cultural shift that academia has witnessed over the last decades: namely, since the development of the Internet and its related technologies (including MOOCs, Big Data, Open Access). Even though scholars were initially relatively quick to adopt some of the new means of communication that the digital world had to offer, such as emails, Tattersall reminds us that a vast majority of scholars tend to be rather apprehensive in utilising some of the new means of scholarly communication, firstly because of the downpour of technologies and platforms now available to them, and secondly because they rightly question their validity.
Image Credit: (dirkcuys CC BY SA 2.0)
While the first half of Altmetrics focuses mainly on setting the scene for new scholarly communications, the second half tends to emphasise the vital role that library and information professionals can play in helping staff discover and communicate research and ultimately reinforce their outreach activities within their own institutions.
LIS professionals are clearly the first target audience of this book, even though academics, publishers, funders or stakeholders of the research evaluation process could apply the recommendations to some extent. That said, throughout the book the authors stress how well-suited librarians are to supporting researchers. Indeed, librarians have developed a key presence within the research cycle by being experts in managing academic content either through collections, subscriptions or institutional repositories. They are also highly regarded within the academic community for their advice on copyright issues, support with information discovery and literacy, and have more recently become very proficient in facilitating open access publishing.

Chapter Ten, ‘The Connected Academic’, particularly struck a chord with me as Tattersall relays some of the major and very legitimate questions scholars tend to have about altmetrics, including ‘is this system good quality?’, ‘is this system stable?’ and ‘why use this technology, could it just be a fad?’ (141). If LIS professionals succeed in answering some of these questions that academics (or research administrators) may have by not providing them with just technical answers but rather by tailoring their response to each individual case, this will indeed help them strengthen their relationships and role within their organisation. I would have liked this chapter to go even further and provide successful stories of LIS professionals doing just that as every scholar will have different reasons for developing their online presence.

As the subtitle of Altmetrics stresses, it aims to be ‘practical’. Chapter Eight, ‘Resources and Tools,’ written by Tattersall, provides a short introduction to 41 resources including the major altmetrics tools as well as many social media platforms, some of which have an academic focus while others tend towards the mainstream. This list was useful in itself as some were new to me, but the real difficulty we face as LIS professionals is convincing our academics how valuable these tools can be to them and which ones to select and invest time in. Here again, concrete examples of scholars having developed strategies and workflows in which they have effectively combined these various outreach activities of sharing, connecting and measuring would have been beneficial. Tattersall does include, however, some helpful tips and tricks, such as identifying a ‘twin’ to demonstrate the value of disseminating research and engaging online (150). The author defines this as someone who would be a scholar’s highly respected peer, but based in another organisation and who has been successfully active on social media platforms.

The field of altmetrics has grown exponentially to the point that they are now considered as part of the basket of metrics recommended by the Leiden Manifesto or the Metric Tide Report, which both advocate the use of responsible metrics. The field has also attracted lots of groundbreaking research about the opportunities and challenges they bring in terms of their meaning or validity. Altmetrics: A Practical Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Academics is very welcome as it is one of very few textbooks revisiting the theory behind the growth of altmetrics, providing a comprehensive snapshot of what they look like today and demonstrating their value if applied in a meaningful manner. All in all, this is a worthwhile read, especially for any LIS professional interested in improving their understanding of altmetrics.

Nathalie Cornée is LSE Library’s Research Information Analyst. In her role, Nathalie focuses on providing support and training in all aspects of bibliometrics and citation analysis to researchers, administrative and research support staff to help them in getting some understanding of how the metrics are calculated and how they can be used to maximise the visibility and exposure of their research findings.
Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

An Introduction to using Social Media to Communicate Research - 1-day course: Thursday, 24th November 2016

Image of Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall
Claire Beecroft
Claire Beecroft
Andy Tattersall and Claire Beecroft are running a one day workshop in Sheffield -  An Introduction to using Social Media to Communicate Research. The workshop aims to give academics and aligned professionals a comprehensive guide to social media and how it can be applied in scholarly communications.

The treadmill of academia is a relentless one: proposal, research, write, present and then hopefully publish before starting all over again, all in the hope that the research is recognised as being of good quality, worthy and valuable. There's one problem though - journals are not geared up for the modern online world of instant sharing and communication. Tools and ways of communicating research such as Twitter, YouTube, ResearchGate, Slideshare, blogging, infographics, animation and many others will be covered. The good news is they are mostly free and can work together to help research to reach a wider audience. That audience is not just academic peers, but publishers, editors, fund holders and the general public.

Course Overview
The aim of the workshop is to offer an introduction to the many tools you can use to help you communicate research and work smarter. The purpose of the day is to help attendees come away with a variety of tools and artefacts they can use to help communicate and share their work. We will teach you basics of social media in an academic setting and demystify some of the barriers that may have put you off from using these tools in your work.

We will show you how to make the most from these technologies and show you how to find out alternative ways of discussing and communicating research. Attention will be paid to the various ethical issues to working more on the web from copyright and Creative Commons to making more use of your mobile device, from safety and security to how you conduct yourself online and netiquette.

Who will benefit from this course?
This short course will benefit a wide range of people including (but not exhaustive of):

  • Researchers,
  • Masters and PhD students,
  • Research Support Staff and Managers,
  • Library and Information Professionals,
  • Communications and Marketing Professionals.

Date and Times
1-day course:  Thursday, 24th November 2016
Start:  9:30 am
Finish: 4:30 pm


£400 - Standard Rate for confirmed bookings

Booking and Payment

Provisional bookings are now being accepted. Please email scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk to reserve your place. You will then be contacted when the course has gone live on the Online Store, where all our bookings are processed.

All our bookings are processed via our Online Store. Payment is by Credit/Debit Card or PayPal. If you are a UK organisation and would prefer to be invoiced, then please select this option on our Online Store and ensure that all invoice details are provided (contact email address, full address, purchase order number) and also forward a copy of the Purchase Order to scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk.
Last Booking date for this course is midnight on Sunday, 13th November 2016.
If you have any queries regarding our booking process then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Meals and Accommodation

The course fee includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day plus all course materials provided on USB and teaching fees.  NB:  Accommodation is NOT included.
If you have any particular dietary or access requirements then please contact the Short Course Unit with your requirements at the time of booking.


Halifax Hall Hotel & Conference Centre

Endcliffe Vale Road, Sheffield, S10 3ER.


For further information please do not hesitate to contact the Short Course Unit via email at scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk

or call +44 (0)114 222 2968.