Be social on Twitter: say thank you!

I just read 3 interesting tips:

1) “Following” is for being social. So if someone follows you, follow them back! Then create saved searches and Twitter lists to watch stuff of interest to you. Sounds like a good idea: why didn’t I think of that? Only thing is, searching isn’t very easy on Twitter, unless people are using hashtags (I’m not the best at this, myself). But it’s more interesting to follow a wide bunch of people and have lists to look at for specific topics: I need to set some of these up!

2) Thank people who retweet your stuff by: favourite their re-tweet, tweet at them or direct message (DM) them. (Although, also see below because thanks in public can seem self-congratulatory.)

3) Don’t use auto-DM for those who follow you to invite them to look at your blog or other social media feeds as well ‘cos it’s like just meeting someone and immediately inviting them to your lab/office! (You can read about automating tweets on Twitter’s own help centre)

(These three tips are from the blog post “Twitter Etiquette to Use Right Away” on Social Media Today -

I also looked at: “7 ways to thank someone for a retweet”

It gives seven quick, short and useful tips on how to thank someone. I think that it’s nice to follow someone who retweets your tweets, by way of saying thanks. (This works well if you use “following” as recommended in the first tip, above.) Or to retweet something they have said, and reciprocating.

Tulips in a vase

University rankings: how do you compare universities?!

Looking at who has cited the paper “International ranking systems for universities and institutions: a critical appraisal” on GoogleScholar throws up a lot more interesting papers on this topic, and on the theme of measuring research.

I wrote a blogpost about University rankings in 2010, when I worked at the University of Warwick and there is continued interest in the topic, especially in the UK, just after the THE publish their results!

Here is my list of University Ranking examples:

Simon Marginson of the Institute of Education, London blog recently provided a useful round-up of the rankings

It does seem that the international, generic rankings favour Universities that are strong in the sciences. No wonder, when you look at the methodologies which often include a large emphasis on citation measurement.

To me, it seems sensible to consider the performance of the department, rather than the whole University: disciplinary differences in ways to achieve publication/outputs/impact can be huge!

If you’re going to measure with bibliometrics, then I like Dorothy Bishop’s blogpost on the LSE blog, which considers measuring a department’s H-index.

Of course, any ranking will be flawed from one perspective or another. Any measurement will have its strengths and limitations. It’s good for busy practitioners to keep an eye on scholarly work in this area, from time to time.

I have many profiles online… where are they all?

Recently, I explored ““: the idea is a website that collates all of your online presences at one address. Great in theory, but it doesn’t have options for all the places where I have an online presence. Perhaps if I investigated the “RSS” button a bit more, I could add almost anything. It can pick up on Twitter and WordPress, but so can my LinkedIn profile, and that is useful to me in other ways, too. This is how looks after a couple of tweaks:

flavors copy

You have to click on one of the badges on the left, to get content from either Twitter or WordPress to show on the right hand side. I do like that each one has a link that goes to those sites, which is called “profile” but I think it’s a bit too subtle. I don’t really want people to read my content on this page: I think that my blog looks better on WordPress and I recently tweeted about Rebelmouse, who do an excellent job with my tweets. does access a lot of other social media sites, but I either don’t use them, or I want to keep my personal presences separate from my professional ones. So, it goes into the list of the many sites on which I have created a presence that I don’t intend to maintain… I won’t delete it in case it improves and I want to go back to it! But I haven’t linked to my profile there, on purpose. It’s probably not best practice, to have an out of date profile (or several) out there. But if they point to up to date ones, perhaps it is not so bad…

What is on my list of online profiles to go back to? The next things are: separate my personal and professional Youtube collections : update my Slideshare collection (big task!), and then update my profiles on Mendeley, ResearchGate and But these things take time!

Themes gleaned from APE 2014 (Academic Publishing in Europe)

This is a case study on finding out about a conference that you didn’t attend! I also include what I have learnt about what the APE 2014 conference covered.

There are blog posts from those who attended:

Richard Padley of Semantico blogged his reflections, on the theme of “the article of the future” and pointed out that the opportunity to move towards post publication peer review “puts pressure” on the concept of the version of record. He explores the question “could journal publishing therefore come to look a bit more like reference publishing, where there is an inbuilt assumption of updatability?” and considers the role of executable research objects, or outputs that are not prose text describing an output, but the output itself with the example of Github as a community site for software programmes and programmers as an alternative route to publication, than the journal. Other themes mentioned in his post are the reproducibility of scientific research, the evolution of the monograph and the shorter formats emerging from publishers and data mining and whether people will be able to extract meaning from articles without reading them!

(You can do an ordinary Google search to find blog posts. Or a Google blogs search. But I recommend going directly to wordpress or trying the blog search engine.)

There are slides on Slideshare, from those who presented:

Stephanie Dawson and Alexander Grossman of, one of the new open access publishers presented slides describing a vision of the future of academic publishing. They stressed that research is becoming more open, as researchers use the Internet and blogs, and network with each other. ScienceOpen appears to be a site where researchers can read articles, network with each other, organise a collection of articles and publish articles to the community. It sounds a bit like Researchgate, Academia, Mendeley and their ilk (I shall dub them “RAM”!), but the question is, if it manages peer review and editing and makes the work public, is it not a journal? And if it makes work available A.S.A.P. and on open access, is it not also a repository? Apparently, the aim is to provide a freely accessible platform for researchers to share and evaluate scientific information, and it will aggregate open access articles to present to that community. As with the RAM sites, I believe that they will need to engage with the community in order to be successful, which is what the traditional journal does in order to attract submissions and peer reviewers, but on a much grander scale. Rather like F1000, too… it’s an increasingly crowded space! According to the slides, ScienceOpen will provide tools and support to the scientists and how it will make money is through publishing charges which include payment for: publishing of a final manuscript, copyediting, language editing, xml conversion and DOI assignment. I find that a clear breakdown of what you get for your “Article Processing Charge”. It’s due to be released in April 2014: I shall watch the space with interest!

Of course, there was plenty of Twitter activity:

See on Twitter itself, with the hashtag #APE2014, or if you want to find tweets that people have already found value in then you could search for that hashtag on a collation/curation site like Storify. (Why doesn’t Twitter’s advanced search page offer the option of looking for only tweets that have been re-tweeted or favourited?!) Here, we can see that someone from Springer tweeted that “social media activitiy around scholarly articles is growing by 5 to 10% per month” which appears to be a quote from a presentation by Stefanie Haustein, on Tweets and Mendeley readers.

You can find videos on Youtube, mostly uploaded by Martijn Roelandse. I don’t find it the most useful way to discover the essence of a conference, but here is some footage from Day 2:

Finally, I wish that I could also search through people’s updates on LinkedIn…  but I think that might come in the future. I note that they’re integrating more closely with Slideshare and there are new features all the time.

THE Webinar on altmetrics for librarians was yesterday…

#lcwebinar on twitter & is on Elsevier’s Library Connect website. You can see the slides or register for Brighttalk and see the whole presentation.

I enjoyed  my co-presenters’ sessions, from Mike Taylor and Kristi Holmes. Mike gave a great overview of what altmetrics actually are (and are not!) and Kristi put them in the context of considering academic impact and of storing such information about research and researchers.

I am very glad to have been one of the presenters. Yes, it was nerve wracking, especially knowing that it was likely to be the biggest webinar of the Library Connect webinar series, so far. Apparently, over 1700 people registered! And you could watch the number of people logging in increasing, throughout the webinar…it reached 1200, although I confess that I blocked that part of my screen when presenting. Too distracting!

Anyway, even though I was nervous, I was well prepared and I felt very much supported by the Elsevier staff who organised it all (especially Colleen DeLory who chaired the session) and indeed by my fellow speakers. We had previously held a rehearsal in the Brighttalk environment, which helped settle any worries about unfamiliar technology. It was actually a lot easier (and I think better) than presenting at a conference.

Both the rehearsal and an earlier telephone conference call helped to make us presenters feel comfortable with each other and to develop our presentations along complementary though not overlapping lines. I believe that it could not have been co-ordinated better: any more effort would have been too much of a time commitment, and any less would have made it (at the very least) a more stressful experience!

Credit to Elsevier’s Library Connect team: it was a well organised, well promoted event. Very many thanks for inviting me to speak, and for supporting us so well. If you are invited to talk at one of their seminars then don’t be daunted: it’s a very positive experience!

Crowdsourcing in academia and information science

On 29th Oct ’13 I went to a talk on citizen science and crowdsourcing in science and industry at the Humboldt University. A rough translation of the title is “achieve more together”, and it was delivered by Elisa Herrmann, in German. It’s one of the BBK series of seminars on information science themes at Humboldt’s department for information science (some are in German, some in English).

I love the German word “Schwarmintelligenz” for wisdom of the crowd, especially in the context of the German mosquito mapping site that Herrmann gave as an example of a citizen science project!

I’ve been rather remiss in not blogging about this talk sooner, but I believe it’s “better late than never”, and I can point here to some other things on the theme of crowdsourcing that I’ve noticed since then.

Such as…there was a conference on Crowdfunding in the University sector in London on 17th Jan. I wasn’t there, but I notice that it included themes of:

- attitudes to crowdfunding among business angels and venture capitalists;
- which universities have successfully used crowdfunding and for what reasons;
- which platforms are offering turnkey solutions that foster universities with crowdfunding;
- how crowdfunding is being used by organisations like the University of Edinburgh and the RSA
- what crowdfunding has done for student entrepreneurs at universities like Plymouth, Bristol and Bournemouth

The Times Higher Education reported on this event, and some names worth googling from the programme are : Professor Alan Barrell of the University of Cambridge; the UK Crowdfunding Association; CrowdMission; Crowdcure; Microryza; Syndicate Room; Crowdcube; Sponsorcraft; Seedrs; Crowdshed; the UK Business Angels Association; Joe Cox of the University of Portsmouth; and Midven.

Back to the talk at Humboldt, which was not really about crowd funding but focussed more on the citizen science model. Elisa Herrmann explained that the benefits of crowdsourcing can include:

  • a source of investment in terms of cash, expertise or resource,
  • engaging with the public (which would include the alumni mentioned by the crowdfunding conference page)

Herrmann talked through Rose Holley’s tips for crowdsourcing, from D-Lib in 2010:

  • Have a clear goal (the thing)
  • Make the contribution easy & fun, reliable and quick (the system)
  • Know your target group. Acknowledge and reward the contributors. Trust them (the crowd)
  • Offer interesting and new content, in large volume (the content)

Your target group might have their own goals to achieve with your content: can you help them to achieve those, whilst they help you to achieve yours?

Citizen science projects often build a community: making this rich and meaningful will help people to remain engaged with your project.

Howe’s crowdsourcing rules from 2009 were summarised thus:

  • Pick the right model
  • Pick the right crowd
  • Offer the right incentives
  • The community is always right
  • Ask what you can do for the crowd (not only/primarily what they can do for you)

A number of interesting sounding projects were described:

  • (Mosquito atlas of Germany) – citizens become mosquito hunters by collecting culicid mosquitoes, freezing and then sending them to research institutions.
  • ARTigo - play a game to describe images of works of art: score points when your tags match those of others!
  • – where over a million volunteers take part in various science projects.
  • SETI@home – contribute your computer’s power to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, through the analysis of radio telescope data.

All in all, a very interesting talk that made me think more about the potential of this way of working, for academic research.