The Launch of Twitter’s Analytics Service and Thoughts on Free Alternatives

As ever, Brian Kelly is on the ball when it comes to measuring social media reach. Thanks @Briankelly!

UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

The Launch of Twitter’s Analytics Service

It was via a tweet I received last week when I first heard the news about the public launch of Twitter’s analytics service:

Today, opened its analytics platform to the public TLDR: Images get more engagement

This tweet was of particular interest as it not only provided news of the new service and a link to a post in which the service was reviewed but also a brief summary of findings from the analysis of the posters’ use of Twitter with suggestions for best practice: “Images get more engagement“. The longer version explained how:

Finally, what Twitter Media and News staff had already told people who are listening is backed up by what they’re showing me: including pictures, maps and graphics in your tweets will raises your “engagement” numbers, at least as measured by people resharing tweets, favoriting them, @mentioning or @replying…

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Openness, replication, validation and the mark of quality in research… and knitting!

Whilst knitting (so I make no claim to have comprehensive notes), I watched a great talk on YouTube by the guy who wrote this paper:

Why most published research findings are false
John P A Ionannidis in PLoS Med (2005)

– Hedge fund managers don’t trust science: how do we know which science can be trusted?

– Looks like replication is an important aspect of science, for us to recognise quality

– Negative results should also be shared and lead to acknowledgement of contribution: there is a particular bias towards reporting of positive results in some disciplines. I think he said: “the analysis planned is different to the analysis published about half of the time” amongst the 60 or so research teams who responded to the author by sending requested protocols. And those who responded must presumably be amongst the most conscientious of researchers: the implication is that those who didn’t respond might publish analysis that is not what was originally planned, in more cases.

– Published articles should have published protocols associated with them, and there are a number of top journals who have now agreed that a condition of publication for articles about randomised control trials should have those trials registered already, before publication.

– Journals might have policies (I think: is this a sign of quality for authors choosing where to publish?), but are they always being adhered to? Not necessarily!

– When small studies’ results are published, the sensible thing is to wait for a larger study to confirm the findings.

– Transparency of data is important too. It sounded like he summarised a study where some top researchers tried to re-do the analysis in 18 papers from a top journal, and they could only replicate the results properly in two articles. There were various problems with the others, which ranged from a lack of availability of the data, through use of home-made and unavailable software, to an un-interpretable description of the methods.

– There are five levels for making research more open and more replicable (and thus more validatable?):

  1. Registration of data
  2. Registration of protocols
  3. Registration of analysis plan
  4. Registration of analysis plan and raw data together
  5. open live streaming

My reflection on it all was that my very act of knitting is a metaphor or even example for all of these themes, as my knitting is a form of replication. The knitting pattern was available for download for free on the knitters’ community site Ravelry, which is like open access publication, although you can buy individual patterns there too, and there’s frustrating, out of print stuff from books and magzines, too! Also, on Ravelry you can see pictures and notes from others’ projects that use the designs. This is partly replication, but also open, post publication peer review, as the project notes sometimes point out errors in the instructions. Sometimes, designers then admit to errors and release new versions. It’s also apparent that some designers have already engaged test knitters to try to avoid such a post-publication revision (pre-publication peer review). Some test-knitters might be paid, some are doing a favour for a friend, and some seem to do it for the wool!

I had difficulty interpreting my pattern in one or two places (perhaps because I was watching a fascinating video at the same time!), and had to fall back on my experience/expertise/creativity.*  But finally, I was able to produce a very nice little top, and is that not a form of replication that indicates the quality of the original designer’s work?

* I was using a lace yarn for a top that was designed for worsted yarn, and my gauge with 5mm needles was close but not perfect, so I was destined for a few modifications. I think that this is somewhat akin to data adjustment! And if it was a really negative result, I could list it on Ravelry as an “Ugh”, so I maybe I should suggest that Nature and Science start publishing “Ugh”s, asap!

Here’s a picture of what I knitted:

baccarat

SAGE Publications busts “peer review and citation ring,” 60 papers retracted

Important news from the Retraction Watch blog!

Retraction Watch

This one deserves a “wjvcow.”

SAGE Publishers is retracting 60 articles from the Journal of Vibration and Control after an investigation revealed a “peer review and citation ring” involving a professor in Taiwan.

Here’s the beginning of a statement from SAGE:

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Curating online content and recording information sources: tools I’ve used

I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog-post that the tool I value most for this at the moment, is Evernote. But there are some other tools I’ve had a good look at:

ScoopIt is also a pretty good curation tool, and if you use it often to discover content and link it up with Twitter (there’s bound to be an IFTT recipe), you can look more original on Twitter at the same time as creating something more visually attractive and useful for yourself than you could do with Twitter alone. The problem I’ve discovered is that your ScoopIt stories look out of date pretty quickly if it’s not a primary tool for you, and I can’t vouch for it being the best place to discover content: a better way to use it might be to investigate the bookmarklet tool.

Another such tool that I’m aware of is paper.li, largely because of one particular user who picks up on my tweets and reports on them there & tweets at me to alert/acknowledge them, which is a pretty nice, social way to curate/collate content and report on it.

I used Storify for collecting tweets relating to the Finch report on open access, and I still refer to the collection from time to time. I think Storify is particularly good at collecting tweets about a particular theme, but you can also use it to collect websites and material from other sources. Apparently, Storify also has a bookmarklet tool which I would use if I intended to invest more in Storify.

I also created a collection (or two) of academic papers on EndNote when I was at Warwick, and I exported and then imported the bibliographic data into Mendeley, for future reference. The reason I don’t use either Mendeley or EndNote so much these days is really that I’m not using so much scholarly content. If I were, I’d also want to investigate Zotero as an alternative: it’s a long time since I investigated it but it has a good reputation amongst researchers I’ve met. I note that EndNote’s Desktop version seems to remain the best at re-formatting your bibliographic data into the various styles for journal publication.

I used to use Delicious for website bookmarks but when it lost some features that I valued, I migrated my bookmark collection over to Diigo. Both of these tools, like Evernote, have handy content-adding tools for my browser toolbar (bookmarklets). My Diigo collection is nicely tagged but not maintained so much these days, because I prefer the way Evernote copies the content of sites. I once spent some considerable time weeding out dead links from my bookmarks, so it seems to me better to have a copy of content for future reference, in case the original webpage is moved/removed: apparently, Pocket can also do this.

Overall, the convenience of Evernote prevails, for me. It’s apparently a “productivity” tool and not only for content curation, although that’s how I use it at present: I know it’s more powerful. (I’m sensing that “productivity” is a keyword for folks at companies who provide these tools, especially Mendeley in their recent webinar for Librarians.)

Brian Kelly’s blog post on Evernote from Jan 2014 compares it to Simplenote, explaining why he’s sticking with Evernote. And if you want to explore productivity tools further, you could do worse than looking at the Libguide from the University of Minnesota on “Digital Academic Workflow tools”.

Looking good on social media

A great tool for this is Rebelmouse which picks up on my tweets. It prompted me to consider how to include more pictures into my blog posts, recently. And now it has got me thinking about how a researcher can “look good” on social media.

I blogged recently about what might incentivise a researcher to upload published outputs online, and one of the criteria was that their research should “look good”. I also blogged recently about my mini-strategy for social media  where I state as my first goal that I want a “professional-looking” profile. So really, it boils down to the question: What do I mean by “looking good”? And what does this mean to a researcher? Here are some answers along with my tips!

Great content

This is a top priority, to use social media to say stuff that I believe is meaningful and valuable, and sometimes to be a little original, at least within the community/network I belong to. I also try to write in a way that is accessible and friendly but not too informal. My pictures are… well, secondary.

For researchers, others might create content about your work, and being present in social media enables you to engage with them to build more great content. (This is where Altmetrics becomes of interest as you can use altmetrics tools to see what others are saying about your papers.)

Other people’s work provides a content source: you can review at great length or simply re-tweet, re-blog or collate others’ content. I think people who only re-tweet are essentially curating content for themselves whilst at the same time having a social media presence: it isn’t original work, but the collating and reporting role is pretty useful to us all. Twitter is great at the reporting role & reaching people, but not so great at curating, in my opinion. Read more about curation tools in a forthcoming blog post!

Academic (and authentic)

I’m not an academic, so this isn’t my own concern but rather one that I think researchers will need to display. Having said that, I do want to show a certain level of thoughtfulness and appreciation for academic ways. The LSE blog has some great advice for researchers on using social media as an academic. The concept of social media and its suitability for “academicness” is a really big topic so I won’t try to explore it all here!

Instead of wanting to sound academic, I want to sound experienced and well-informed but also authentic, reflective and exploratory. 

Active

This is a balancing act of choosing what to share and how, and not opening too many commitments for yourself! I’m active in the channels that matter to me, but I need to make it clear to anyone who stumbles across any out-of-date profile of mine, where I am actually active. My mini-strategy describes what I’m aiming to achieve in terms of activity levels with my blog, Twitter & LinkedIn and I’ve recently updated profiles on other sites to point out that I am active on those sites.

The tool I regularly use to curate content for myself these days is Evernote. And I haven’t yet chosen to share information about that activity, socially. I suppose that I’m active enough “out there”. I don’t want to flood other people’s feeds and annoy them! But if I wasn’t active in other ways, then sharing my curation activity would be a good time-saver.

Visually attractive

I choose profile photographs carefully! I want to look  reasonably professional and competent, but also to display a little personality and approachable-ness. I also try not to change the photos too often, but to keep them up-to-date, so that folks can recognise me. I’m not using my photo as a kind of “brand”: I like that when LinkedIn displays my WordPress profile it is with a different picture of me, so that maybe piques interest in the new source but still provides recognisable-ness for those who meet me.

Twitter and WordPress also allow me to use images on my home page/wrapper for my social media activity, and indeed in my content, along with formatting options for blog posts on WordPress. There’s a lot more that I could do on this front, so I’m really pleased that Rebelmouse provides a visually attractive view of my content with very little effort from me. Even though it’s just the same content as you would find on Twitter, I think it looks nice so perhaps I should promote it more… like mentioning it here 😉

Responsive

This is more important to me than “social”. I have been thinking quite a bit about whether I should tweet thanks for people who re-tweet my content, and how to respond socially online. I don’t think I’ve got the perfect protocol but as a minimum, I do aim to respond to anyone who tweets directly at me, either publicly or privately, and indeed to any comments on my blog. Ideally, I would also do this in a very timely fashion, but this is subjective and I’m often busy so I’m also a fan of “better late than never”! Also, I’m aware that some tweets at me are really more of a courtesy, an attribution or a citation, and so they don’t require a response except maybe a private thank you.

Thought-through & Linked-up

So I’ve got a blog and a twitter feed and I use LinkedIn and I have an ORCID and presence in Rebelmouse, on Slideshare and all sorts of other profiles besides. How do these all link up to each other and relate to each other? How can I make it easy and efficient for the person who wants to find out about me, to navigate through all of these profiles? I keep mentioning that I only update LinkedIn and that I’m active on Twitter & WordPress, so I don’t need to feel guilty every time Academia.edu tell me that another person has discovered my profile through a Google search. I’ve laid a trail! I’ve a feeling that ORCID is going to be the answer… at least, in the academic setting.

Popular

Tricky, this one… I mean, how do I look popular and why would I want to?! If I know that I’m creating good content, so why do I need the validation of popularity? But the opinion of one’s peers matters, and for researchers the attention from the wider community is an indicator of where to look for impact.

I do make it clear which measures of my social media activity I want to measure, in my mini strategy and this is a space I’m still watching. Basically, I’m interested in what measures are available for and from the tools/channels that I actively use, and whether they mean anything to me depends on what I’m trying to achieve.

How do I use this information to look popular? I don’t, but I see that LinkedIn, ResearchGate and other such sites are publishing attention numbers for me. Since a lot of the measures are new and people don’t fully understand or trust them, this is not a big deal at the moment because I don’t think folks are looking, but it might be in future. Depending on who is looking and whether or not one cares!

I expect that there are lots more aspects to “looking good on social media” that I could consider, but that’s my round-up for now!

So many online content platforms: where should you put research outputs?

You can deposit your work in LOADS of places*, but how do you choose where to bother depositing? Here’s what I’d look for when considering depositing my work somewhere online:

1- “linkedness“, ie they link to or feed into other tools you like or initiatives you are expected to take part in. Eg you can get altmetric.com data for your article from your institutional repository, ImpactStory data from Figshare and PLoS data from your publisher, or you can get an automatic tweet out of it, or your information will be used for your University’s website & performance reviews…

2- “long term”, ie there will be investment to retain the service for a while, preferably retaining the features that you value. Your work would thus be preserved, and your effort of depositing would have lasting benefits.

3- presentation: they should make you/your research look good!

4- discoverability: they should make your work discoverable, preferably in different ways to what your publisher might already do for your work. eg repository cross search tools like BASE, eg feeding webpages on Uni site.

5-attention-bringing: they might also include an element of “publicising” of your research too, eg they tweet the headings of all content added. They might also raise your reputation by association, eg they present your work alongside the top researchers in your field. To my mind, this is also a reason to look out for subject specialist sites/collections.

6- accessiblity: if they improve upon the accessibility to your work that your publisher gives, then this is also a reason to deposit. (eg repository versions that are open access)

What else could be added to this list? What examples are there of things that matter to you/your research community?

*Figshare, your institutional repository, subject repositories, Mendeley, Researchgate, your own webpage to name a few…

Research Trends article “Predicting citation counts” investigates what we have learnt in the last decade

@researchtrendy, or Research Trends, have published an article discussing some significant papers in this field. My own take on what it presents, boiling it all down to one piece of advice is:

The most important thing is who you are publishing with: they might bring you citation ‘pull’, they can raise your quality of your article, and they might have a good idea of the right venues to approach.

My favourite quotations & notes on significant parts are presented here, in a summary that I believe is accessible to practitioner librarians.

“citation counts will remain first among equals because of their intimate connection with the text of the article” 

“features around the Author and Venue were the most predictive. If we set the power of the Author features to 1.0, the relative power of the Venue and Content features would be about .63 and .25, respectively.” Content features include things like original vs review article, industry funding, structured abstract, word count of abstract, etc: see the article for a full list.

TOPIC

“large studies funded by industry, and with industry-favoring results, were statistically significant predictors of higher rates of citation in the future.” Note that this was in the “medical therapeutic space”, where new treatments are likely to become more widely available & investigated after such studies are published.

cardiovascular and oncology articles were more likely to be cited than those on other topics such as anesthesiology, dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, etc.” The topic is significant, i.e. one where there are lots of patients & lots of interest will be a topic with higher citation rates.

“articles which provided therapeutic information were more cited, as were those which provided original research as opposed to review articles.” The latter part surprised me, as the received wisdom has always been that review articles are more highly cited, but the only evidence for this that I’ve come across has been that review journals seem to have the highest impact factors. Not that I’ve done proper research, and I’m quite sure that there are disciplinary differences.

“also found that longer articles were cited fewer times, in a weak but statistically significant way.” Strange, as you would have thought that an article with more research in it would present more that is worthy of citation. I want to know if the longer articles were full of more research, or just long-winded! (No doubt I should go to the original article… one day.) Another article discussed “…found a weak effect that the more topics an article covered the higher the number of citations it received.” Logical!

AUTHOR

“…looked at whether the author byline indicated group authorship. This was found to be the most significant prediction feature in their study!” Yes, I’ve often seen claims that co-authorship leads to higher citation. Makes sense, because all of those authors might self-cite and promote the article appropriately, but also their combined inputs will make the work richer and their collaboration will have polished the work to a higher standard, in theory.

“being a very highly cited author is predictive of future citation counts.” So co-authoring with a highly cited author is not a bad move: not only will you learn from an experienced co-author and gain reputation by association, but you’ll also benefit from his/her citation ‘pull’. Exactly the tactic you can play with Twitter & Klout, if you’re involved in marketing by social media…

VENUE

“If we know the journal the article will be published in, we can make more confident predictions about its eventual citation count” This effect must be when dealing with large numbers because we all know the apocryphal tales of journals with high impact factors because of one or two star articles which are hauling in the citations. It reminds me of those scores that tell you that your chosen method of contraception is 97% effective: it doesn’t mean anything if you’re one of the individuals in the 3%! You take your chances, and journal impact factors do matter.

When looking for other measures of a journal, the “strongest are the number of databases that index the journal, and the proportion of articles from the journal which are abstracted within two months by Abstracting and Indexing services and synoptic journals.” I’ve long advocated to researchers that publishing in journals that are indexed in the sources where they search for research is a good idea. (NB I had to think about “synoptic”, and it means that it’s a journal publishing synopses, or summaries!)

The author discusses how there is room for more research into the topic of the “Venue”, including when it comes to altmetrics. I believe that experienced authors must have their own informal lists of journals to approach, ranked by their own perception of the quality of the journal, even when they do not have explicit lists: it is often very subjective, and difficult to measure, but I wonder if they can articulate how they assess the quality of a journal?

The studies discussed in the article have looked at a variety of interesting features. To this list, I might add: OA journal, hybrid OA, or no OA at all; rejection rate; time to rejection/acceptance; time to publication from acceptance; professional journal editor/academic editor (or some other feature(s) of the editorial make-up); does the journal tweet, y/n?. I imagine it would be very difficult if not impossible to gather accurate data on all such features, but they are things that I would advise authors to investigate. 

ARTICLE

“For a single article, the number of times it is abstracted is also a statistically significant predictor”

“secondary publication sources have a predictive effect”

There is a great deal of potential for altmetrics, when it comes to researching individual, newly published articles.

“By the time an article is a few months old, we can make good predictions of its likelihood of future citations – especially for those articles which end up being highly cited.”

“…. only about 20% of the papers which ended up being highly cited were not predicted to be that way.” If you compare that to my analogy with contraceptives earlier, this percentage seems rather unimpressive, but then how sure do you need to be, in this circumstance? Well, that depends on how you want to use the data. The author points out “these measures are not well-suited for an editorial board to choose articles, since the Venue would be constant and they could not look at the author’s publication rank.” (because the authorship would not be revealed.)

Note that the prediction rate claimed is only for articles within the data-set being analysed, and that the author of this article says “it is not safe to predict the accuracy any new study might achieve”. but also that the trends seem clear

It is those trends that I would point out to researchers who are choosing how & where to publish. 

CrossMark: tracking changes to scholarly publications

I’ve never re-blogged before, but I really like the Swansea Uni Library Research News blog, and this is important news. So here goes, I’m trying out re-blogging!

RESEARCH NEWS from Swansea University Library

What happens when scholarly research published in journals, books, proceedings or other documents changes? Corrections, updates, errata, and even retractions and withdrawals are sometimes necessary. How can you find out about these changes?

CrossMarkLogo

Look for the CrossMark logo appearing in ejournals (online HTML or downloaded PDF).

Just click on the CrossMark logo and a status box will tell you if the document is current or if updates are available.

The CrossMark service comes from CrossRef, the association of scholarly publishers which already asssigns DOI to documents.

Further information: www.crossref.org/crossmark/ – including a short video (3m 35s)

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Captain of my ship: a social media (mini-)strategy

ahoy2

I’ve been reflecting that it would be useful to make it clear to myself what I’m doing with social media and why, and how I intend to measure if I’m successful or not (and thus alter my actions appropriately). Here goes!

What I want to achieve (aims)

  1. to have a professional-looking profile online, which gives information on my professional experience, expertise and interests, but also demonstrates and illustrates it.
  2. to use social media to bring me information that I will value: it is a filter, saving me time not swallowing it!
  3. to create and maintain connections with professionals and experts in my field (and keep in touch with former colleagues).
  4. to record my discoveries for my own future use.
  5. to explore the tools available to me, to understand what they offer and to select what is most useful to me and those I work with.
  6. to share what I think and what I’ve found out with other librarians and researchers, who might find it valuable.
  7. to organise my thoughts through the process of writing and to apply a little pressure on myself to do things properly, because someone might be reading!
  8. to enjoy exploring and reporting.

It’s a long list. Too long for a mini strategy! What are my priorities? Do all these points belong in this strategy? I think that the focus really is on aims no.s 1 and 2, along with a large dose of no. 3. Some more thoughts:

  • With regard to no. 3: there are other ways to do this than social media so maybe what I really need is an overall communications strategy, where social media features.
  • For no. 4: I use Evernote and bookmarking tools to achieve this, too, so this means I need an information organisation plan. I can be communicative with either of these other tools (and often tweet bookmarks), but I’m clear that “social” is not my primary goal when using them.
  • No. 5  really comes under “professional development planning“. Note that having too many profiles and investigating too many tools can interfere with my aim no. 1
  • No. 6 seems to be linked to no. 3, and thus a part of communications.
  • No. 7 is awkward to admit (that I need the attention or I won’t work properly!) and difficult to monitor. Plus, I don’t want to pile more pressure on myself than necessary. Still, I’m being honest and realistic.

More specifically (objectives), I intend to:

  • Keep my LinkedIn profile up to date as a kind of “shop window” to my work and my online presence. Therefore, review it once a month. Keep it linked to my blog and Twitter. (Aim 1)
  • Blog at least once a week. Possibly, consider which day/time of day is most effective time for blog posts to go live. (Aim 1)
  • Tweet at least once a week (fed from my blog) and look at Hootsuite at least once a day (Aim 2). It would probably be a good idea to tweet once a day, too, although no need for strict rules! Reply to those who direct tweet at me, or thank them in some other way.
  • Maintain biographical information and profiles on LinkedIn, WordPress and Twitter (Aim 1). Promote LinkedIn wherever possible, eg in my e-mail signature (Aim 3). (NB one problem with LinkedIn, I noticed when I moved country: the URL for my profile changed. Is there a better link to use, that would not change with time?)
  • Connect with people I’ve worked with on LinkedIn. Endorse skills and ask for and give recommendations on LinkedIn, as appropriate (Aim 3) . (There are lots of ways to improve my presence on LinkedIn. I’ve just learnt that you can “like” a work anniversary, since LinkedIn tells everyone that I’m now celebrating mine. Nice, like waiving to people across the street, so I’ll consider doing that, too!)
  • Investigate other features of LinkedIn and other profile sites and tools from time to time, as possible (all Aims). Where possible, get all other profiles to point to LinkedIn (Aim 1).

I probably ought to work on those vague “as possible” and “as appropriate” statements: I’m really just describing what I do, here, and I do it because it feels about right! But this is not a formal strategy and I trust my instinct. Points in italics are action points for me: I’m glad I articulated my intentions here, thus partly achieving goal number 7! Though the real measure of success will be once I’ve done those action points, and the most important action point is coming up…

What I am prepared to invest?

When I add up time from my objectives, I’m looking at: 5 minutes each day to look at Twitter on Hootsuite (max), plus an hour a week to blog (minimum), plus 15 minutes a week (or an hour a month, minimum) for activity on LinkedIn. This is the time scheduled into my calendar, but I also need to take time to monitor/measure my activity, see below. This investment needs to be considered in terms of communications strategy and indeed an overall strategy for my work.

My blog is undoubtedly my biggest investment of time. Sometimes I have no time to blog and I use drafts that I’ve prepared in previous weeks. Sometimes, I spend a lot of  time researching and writing blog posts: this is OK if time allows, I tell myself! And also, if I’m enjoying it and it’s in my evenings/weekends, then it’s OK, I tell myself…

But time is precious and I don’t actually know how much time I spend when I get carried away with an idea to blog about! My time-saving resolutions are:

  • I should write blog posts based on paid work I’m doing already, where possible
  • I ought to monitor the time I spend more closely. I think that this my highest priority action point from these thoughts, because it allows me to follow my instinct on those “as possible” and “as appropriate” objectives, and my concept of “as time allows” can be better defined.  

How I will measure my success?

These measures will enable me to alter my objectives appropriately, in order to achieve my aims.

  • Twitter: look out for a lack of  clicks on links that I’ve shared (visit Hootsuite analytics for this, once every couple of months), or any sudden downward trend on the no. of followers (visit Twitter’s graph as well). (I could also look out for a sudden sink in my Klout or Kred score, but I’m not so interested in this at the moment: see my earlier blog post on Klout & co.
  • Blog: make sure that it doesn’t swallow too much time, look out for a steady number of visitors and at the least that the trend of visits/subscribers/comments does not decrease! I intend to think more about how to evaluate my blogging activity.
  • LinkedIn: For me, for now, the best way to evaluate it is to question “Do I look good in this?”!

So, my mini-strategy articulates a few things that I do or intend to do with social media and my online presence, and it focuses me on looking at how I monitor my time more closely.