Altmetrics: a new role for LIS professionals

There's a shift in how research is being communicated which altmetrics can measure - and librarians should be involved.

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In our workshop we led open discussions looking at how delegates would help researchers at the opposite ends of their careers and help them get the most from these new technologies.  Then we discussed the barriers and opportunities of using Altmetrics in the academy by using a SWOT Analysis to identify the opportunities, threats, weaknesses and strengths of these new technologies.

We co-facilitated our workshop alongside Catherine Chimes from who explained what Altmetrics was and how it could be employed by academics. Catherine explained the benefits of librarians signing up for a free Altmetric Explorer account that would help them drill down into the research their organisation creates. In addition the session looked at the Altmetric bookmarklet and what went into an Altmetric doughnut, the diagram that shows where your research is being shared, liked, discussed etc.

We ran a session on how to encourage academics to engage with Altmetrics and the reasons why they should at least pay attention to some of what is going on.  They key is to demystify Altmetrics and the wider aspect of social media and show the benefits of engaging with scholarly communication. We highlighted work we had done in ScHARR to run a wide range of sessions to support staff and students from 20 minute Bite Size talks to half day workshops and training sessions. The importance of creating a network and finding champions within the professional and academic communities is very important as no library or information professional can do this alone. Certainly the researcher and their traditional work practices require all the help they can get by adapting to technology change.

In the afternoon Ehsan Mohammadi from The University of Wolverhampton ran an interesting session on what it is like to be a researcher using Altmetrics. Ehsan presented a great case study demonstrating the benefits of engaging with Altmetrics and its potential to offer him and others new metrics based on their research, whilst it also presented Ehsan and colleagues with useful gauge as to what current research will gain traction further down the line and what are potential future hot topics.

Most academics still have not heard about Altmetrics and many who have do not know really know the benefits and challenges of using them. In a busy working day, some academic staff feel they do not have the time to add in additional work to improve their research profile and increase the impact of their research, but Claire Beecroft demonstrated how using smart/mobile devices can enable academic staff to use even small amounts of time to fit in activities to boost the visibility and awareness of their work. To this end she introduced the 'altmetrics' homescreen- a curated selection of key apps (Camera, Hootsuite, Twitter, Podcasts, BBC News, Audioboom, LinkedIn and Blogger)  that academics could add to the homepage of their smart device:

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