Choosing scholarly journals: reaching the (right) audience

Reaching the right audience is important to authors, and when you check out a journal’s ability to do this, you may come across other clues as to quality along the way.

cardboard silhouettes of people in black, and shades of grey

This blogpost is part of a mini-series I’ve been writing about choosing academic journals to publish in – or at least to send your manuscripts to because of course it’s not only author choice. As a librarian, I know about assessing journals for quality, and also about sources of information about journals, and working with both authors and publishers has also informed me. This post is not about defining the right audience (perhaps my piece about alternatives to scholarly journals might help in that arena), but this post focuses more on the question: How do you know what audience a journal has?

Below you will find out about some of the promotional activities that journals and journal publishers may do, but also things you can do yourself, whichever journal publishes your work.

Draft your article – with title & abstract

This is something of a chicken-and-egg thing, because of course you will want to write specifically for your journal of choice. However, your first draft could be revealing, about what sort of audience may be interested in your article. Have you written for an audience from within your own field, or do you think that it has an appeal beyond your own discipline?

Having a title and abstract (see below my tip about fitting keywords into these) may also help as you can use them in publisher tools that suggest journals to you, like these two:

I’ve not personally used either of these, so I don’t know how helpful they are: what do you think?

Read the journal: does it speak to you?

I am repeating one of my earliest tips here, and it is pretty obvious, but reading the journal is possibly the most important thing you could do, before submitting your manuscript (along with reading the instructions for authors). You will find out whether the journal speaks to scholars like you (or the audience you wish to reach), in a language that you understand and find helpful – or not.

I recently came across a great listing of “The shortest papers ever published“. I love the example of the co-authors who apparently deliberately set out to write the shortest maths paper ever, with two words and two figures. It makes little sense to me, but I wonder if it could also be of interest to fans of patchwork and other crafts. Perhaps this paper has some more accessible material written about it as well, but the presentation of this article makes me think that the journal is intended for scholars rather than crafters.

Don’t just read, however: dig around on the journal website. Familiarise yourself with the journal(s) on your shortlist and how they present and promote their articles. This will give you a good idea of how your own paper could be presented or promoted to others. If there is an “editors highlights” section then your article could be promoted in this sort of way.

Also, if you want to know the “market share” or readership of a journal that includes advertisements: you can sometimes find this out by looking at their information for advertisers.

Standards used

This will vary across the disciplines, but does the journal use standards which are common for your discipline, in the way that it presents article content? This might be about particular scripts, language or terms, display of formulae, diagrams or even referencing formats. These are all things which will speak to the expected audience of the journal.

Instructions or information for authors will also help you to see how rigorous a journal is in applying standards.

planet earth opened out flat, with blue ocean and white landmass

Who subscribes?

Journal home pages may boast of how many subscribers they have, and whether these are individual members or institutions. If this information isn’t on the home page, look out for annual reports. Such data might help you to compare two or more journals, in terms of the width of audience they can reach. Maybe you might want to be a bit more narrow and strategic, however. If there are certain researchers or research groups in your field, who you know you definitely would like to have read your article:

  • Search their library’s catalogue or journal listing: Will your target scholars have access?

You can also search union catalogues like WorldCat for your journal title, to see for yourself how many academic libraries provide access to the journal.

Open Access

If a journal is Open Access (OA), it won’t have any subscribers: instead, it may boast of website visits and download or citation metrics. Theoretically, the OA journal can reach a bigger, unlimited audience, but in practice you may want to dig around a bit more. (Open Access has its own entry in my mini-series, because it might be more important to you than other criteria.)

If the journal is not OA, you can also check out its policy about green OA deposit, on the SherpaRomeo site, so that you can see whether there is anything that you as the author can do, to broaden readership and promote your article through repositories and their communities.

Journal’s promotion to readers / discoverability

Whether the journal is a subscription or OA one, it’s worth digging a little deeper to find out more than just such numbers. In a way, this is about asking, what is the journal publisher doing with your content: are they offering a real service to their authors, making it discoverable? My bullet points below talk through some clues you could look for, but in order to know what is particularly important to your target audience, I recommend reading “How readers discover content in scholarly publications” – or at least look at the figures which are very revealing, by discipline and by high/low income countries. Figure 28, about how researchers discovered the last article they read is particularly interesting!

    • Where is the journal indexed? By this, I mean can you find it on abstracting and indexing or citation databases where scholars in your field search for literature? Is the journal “search engine optimised” for academic search engines? Check this out by visiting the databases and places where you search for information, and either:
        1. look at their list of journal titles/search for your journal by title
        2. or try to find one or two of the articles that you’ve read, from your journal of choice (try this on Google Scholar, for instance)
    • Promotional campaigns. You might not know if a journal does this sort of promotion, but if they don’t tell you on their website, or you didn’t find out about them through promotional activity then some clues include:
        1. Publisher website: what are they promising to new journals that want to join their publishing house, in terms of marketing for journals?
        2. Conferences: do they sponsor or are they present at/associated with any particularly important meetings for your field?
        3. Social media channels: if the journal uses Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, take a look at how they are using it. Do they tweet about topical world events and use this to promote articles to wider audiences, for instance? Do they use well-known hashtags for your discipline or field and appeal to academic audiences?
        4. Google searching: if you do a search for content in a journal, do you get a sponsored result? Keep an eye out for this!
        5. Call for papers / journal news /press releases : these things aren’t all going to promote your article exactly, but if they are handled well then they will raise the profile of the journal. The journal may also boast of press or media interest in their articles, which might broaden the audience of your article – if your article attracts media attention.
        6. Perhaps the journal has a way of making articles free to read once they have surpassed a certain number of downloads, as a promotional tool.

      stretched out globe with contintents in dark blue and the oceans full of radiating white arrows to indicate a network

  • Table of Content notifications /RSS feeds/ Search alerts are supported. If your journal offers a range of options for people to be told about their latest articles, then this will help to boost the number of visitors to their site – and therefore possible readership for your article when it appears in their notification.
    1. A Table of Contents (ToC) might be offered to visitors to a journal site, as an email update. Also, if your journal is listed on the JournalTocs site then this is a good sign in my view: it means that their ToC is accessible to discovery tools.
    2. I’m a bit old-fashioned in my use of the web, apparently: my RSS feed reader is now called “The Old Reader“!
    3. Search alerts are most likely supported on the indexing databases and academic search engines anyway, but some publisher platforms also offer search alerts.
  • Are Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) issued for articles? These help by:
    1. providing a permanent link to your article so that readers can share it with others
    2. making it easier for others to cite your work: they enable data importing into reference management tools & DOIs are even required in some citation styles (eg APA).
    3. enabling tracking of links to your article, so that readership & altmetrics for your own article can be calculated… among other benefits.

Which reminds me: does the journal make it easy for others to cite your work, for example by including a “how to cite this article” link or formatted reference?

Society members

Like the math journal I mentioned earlier which featured one of the shortest ever papers, journals which are published by membership organisations and societies will presumably bring a readership to your paper from among their members. If so, you might want to consider:

  • How many members do they have, and do all members get copies of or notifications with ToCs from the journal?
  • Are you yourself a subscriber/recipient of the journal – and are your peers? (Do YOU read it?!)
  • Does the journal come in print as well as electronic format? (See below for why I think this matters)

Print runs or e-only?

Most journals are available online, as e-Journals. Fewer are available in print as well, but journals which do have print runs will probably have been around for longer, so they have had time to establish good reputations. Journals with print runs may be more strict than other journals in their instructions to authors, due to page space and the cost of colour printing, etc. However, the print version is an opportunity for your article to reach audiences that the e-version is less likely to reach.

Advantages of print include:

  • Some readers prefer paper
  • Print journals can be very attractive items
  • They may reach general readers at the newsagents on the high street/at the airport, etc
  • Paper can be taken anywhere (OK, so can a tablet, but paper needs no battery and it’s less costly if your paper item gets wet!)
  • Those without reliable and fast Internet access, such as in third world countries (and remote areas of first world countries: but does the print copy reach them?)

For many researchers the ideal would be a journal with both print and electronic versions. But others find print too restrictive and the electronic journals do support new functions, so this is something for you to consider: what suits your research best?

Promote your article yourself

I usually finish my training sessions with this thought, but I’m going to mention it here instead this time. I know that publishers should be doing this for you, but even best selling authors do promotion of their work: so think about what you might be prepared to do yourself. Perhaps choose something from my list below – or read what advice your journal gives to authors, for promoting their articles. I like the advice on Nature’s website for authors.

  1. When you write the article, in the title & abstract, try to use all keywords which researchers with an interest in this topic might type in a search engine.
  2. Deposit your article into a Green OA repository: they will probably promote your article as well, such as on social media or their “latest additions” page.
  3. Put a citation for your latest journal article (or output) into your email signature
  4. Update academic profile sites: doing this through ORCID will make it easier, with one site to update & other profile sites can draw on that.
  5. Promote your article through social media: maybe you don’t have your own Twitter account or blog, but does someone in your department or institution have one? They will probably be glad to have content to send out! If you do use academic profile sites and social media channels yourself, then I recommend IFTTT as a place to tie them all together and optimise your posting to one channel so that it gets spread into other channels too.
  6. Create slides explaining/summarising your paper: these can be uploaded to slide sharing sites, also promoted through social media channels and perhaps also used in teaching or speaking opportunities. You don’t have to stop at slides: you could do a video clip or a podcast, or whatever suits your skills.
  7. Send links or actual print copies to colleagues who are working in similar areas. I personally find it harder to ignore paper on my desk, so for a really key contact, I might use the old-fashioned print option!

Finally, one of the ways you can ensure discovery of your article, is to do everything possible to make sure that it is cited. This is not so easy, it is slightly frowned upon as “gaming” the system, and my blogpost here is not about how to get cited. However, if you come across advice that might tip the odds (such as clearly stating “how to cite this article”, or choosing OA publishing), or if you are not sure about whether or not to self-cite, do bear in mind Figure 28 from that report I mentioned earlier! In the Humanities at least, following a citation is the second highest discovery route, after searching for articles.

A final thought

cardboard cutout silhouettes of people in grey and black, but one figure is bright green, standing out

I’m going to play devil’s advocate: perhaps it’s enough if your article is read by your co-authors, proof-readers you call on, the journal editor and their peer reviewers. It might depend on how specialist your research is, and how important to your field (and influential to your career) those co-authors and peer reviewers are! Perhaps you have bigger plans for your next article anyway: a good strategy is probably to publish in different types of journals. An article from earlier this year on InsideHigherEd urges scholars to broaden their focus, in terms of target audiences.  Just another reason why I’ve left impact factors and bibliometrics for last, in my mini-series. Watch this blog in the New Year for the next installment!

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Bibliometrics and the academic librarian

Next week I’m going to be at another Elsevier Connect event, this time in Zurich (you can still register if you want to join in!). These events are usually attended by librarians who are not bibliometricians, and often there are bibliometric specialists elsewhere in their libraries or universities. But I think that there’s a need for librarians of many kinds to develop an understanding of bibliometrics and I look forward to discussing more with attendees about bibliometrics use they’ve come across, and what they think that librarians can contribute to the bibliometrics community. Here are some of my thoughts on the topic.

The field of bibliometrics seems to me to be growing: there are ever more studies being published. The knowledge and skills of these academic experts often seems intimidating to me as a practitioner and librarian. There are new developments all the time, which can make it seem hard to keep uptodate, such as a recent initiative to open citation data, via Crossref.

Meanwhile, I notice ever more job advertisements for new kinds of roles in library services or university administration, such as: “Bibliometric specialist”, “Bibliometrician” or perhaps a role related to research impact, which involves using bibliometric (as well as altmetric) data and tools. These are jobs for people who are used to handling huge amounts of data and applying sophisticated analysis techniques to create reports. Expertise with mathematical and statistical methods is required: such was never a part of my training and I feel left behind, but I don’t see that as a problem.

I’ve come to bibliometrics through a rather winding route and I’m interested in a lot more than just bibliometrics: I like watching many developments in the world of scholarly communication such as open access and open science, but also developments in peer review and so on: if you browse this blog you’ll get a flavour!

I have no intention of specialising in bibliometrics nor of spending my days producing bibliometric analyses: I’m simply not the best person to be doing that kind of work. Is there a role for someone like me (an ordinary librarian rather than specialist bibliometrician), within the bibliometrics community? I think so…

In my view, great librarians are able to connect people with the information that they need: I take this, of course, from Ranganathan’s laws. We might do this behind the scenes through collection management which enables independent discovery, or in person, through a traditional enquiry or reference interview. (For illustration and entertainment, if you haven’t seen this helpdesk video then I highly recommend it!)

In the university setting, the resources that we offer as part of the library collection are being used to generate and to provide bibliometric data and measures. It has sometimes been part of libraries’ collection management decisions, which sources of such data are added to the collection. And indeed bibliometric scores like the impact factor might influence journal acquisition or cancellation decisions – although there are many factors to be used for evaluating journals.

Library users include researchers and scholars who are increasingly aware of and concerned about bibliometric scores, and in my view many could use some support. Of course, some researchers will find an interest in bibliometric research and learn way more than I ever could about it all. However, other researchers, while perfectly able to understand bibliometrics research simply have other priorities, and yet others will not have had mathematics and statistics training and so will find bibliometric scores no easier to understand than a librarian like myself.

And this is why I think that the ordinary librarian should remain involved in the bibliometrics scene: if we can understand bibliometric measures and significant developments in the field then not only will we be able to pass knowledge on to our user community, but it is also a sign that such measures can be understood by all academics who might need to understand them.

A scholarly field grows when the experts develop ever more sophisticated methods, and I am no scholar of bibliometrics so it’s fine that I am left behind. But bibliometrics are being used in the real world, as part of national research evaluation exercises, in university ranking schemes and indeed within author online profiles. Academic librarians know both the people involved and the people affected by such developments: we are central to universities, and can act as links, bridging the specialists who do bibliometric analyses for a university and the scholars whose careers are affected.

So the intelligent lay person, the library practitioner’s perspective is a valuable one for the bibliometrics community: if we understand the measures then others will be able to, and we can help to spread the message about how such measures are being used.

I look forward to discussing more with the librarians who are coming to Zurich…

 

Story telling and new ideas to listen to, for information professionals

When I’m just warming up of a morning, I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 podcasts. I’ve been picking my way through the series called Four Thought, where speakers share stories and ideas. There are three episodes in particular that I’d like to highlight for information professionals:

Maria Popova: The Architecture of Knowledge – a fascinating look at the way we handle information and create wisdom, incorporating views on knowledge from history but considering the modern, digital era of information overload. A great story!

Rupert Goodwins – tracks human behaviour on the Internet and considers: How can the Internet bring us together to discuss and share with each other in a respectful, reasoned way? How can we avoid arguments and incivility? The speaker has lots of experience and ideas.

This last talk is of interest because of the course I’ve been teaching at the Humboldt Uni IBI, on Information ethics. In the course, we explore all sorts of issues, including policies for websites that the students as information professionals of the future might play a part in hosting, and the ethical matters behind them, such as authenticity vs anonymity, moderating comments, handling whistleblowers, etc.

Another Four Thought that I found a little bit uncomfortable to listen to was:

Cindy Gallop: Embracing Zero Privacy – recommends taking control of your digital presence, and I agree with that. The speaker has some good ideas, chiefly that “we are what we do” in a very positive and empowering way, but what I find difficult is the notion that we can all live in such an open way. What about people who live in a society that is unaccepting of who they are?What about mistakes from the past, for which a debt has been paid: should they be laid forever bare? What about keeping a personal life personal, even whilst sharing matters of professional interest? On balance, I’m not a fan of zero privacy but this talk is a great opener for discussion.

There are plenty of other talks that provide food for thought in the Radio 4 podcast archives, on all sorts of topics and not only in the Four Thought series. I also like the Reith Lectures, the “Life Scientific”, and “In Our Time”… so much more to listen to!

How to spend 30 effective minutes on social media

I came across a great blog post by Kevan Lee on Buffer that outlines all the kinds of activities you could be doing on social media, and provides different types of plan for how to use 30 minutes, on social media. (There’s quite a bit of good advice over on Buffer, if you’ve got time to read around.)

This particular post helped me to reflect on my social media mini-strategy that I wrote about in May last year, along with the work I’m now doing for Piirus, managing their blog. I recognised that what I do personally with social media, is rather different to what I do for Piirus. The kinds of activities that I focus on for myself, from the list in the Buffer blog post are: Curating, Crafting and Experimenting. I keep wishing that I was more social but I can’t do everything! I focus on my online profile, and on learning.

However, when I’m working for Piirus, the way I’d spend that 30 minutes is to follow this recipe from Kevan’s blog post:

How to spend the 30 minutes:

  • 5 minutes rescheduling popular content
  • 15 minutes queueing content from your go-to sources
  • 10 minutes responding to mentions on social media

This is pretty much a daily activity for me, on behalf of Piirus, although some days I take less than 30 minutes. Other days, I spend more time, and take a look at some analytics (so that I know what is popular content) or I look for events and ways to engage.

Which “recipe” for 30 minutes might you use, and which activities do you invest most time on in Social media? Reflecting on this blog post might help you to identify the strategy you are already following, or the one which you might wish to follow.

What use is social media to a researcher? Find out at a Google Hangout event

I’m very pleased to be taking part as a panellist in an online Q&A session called “How to be a successful digital academic to boost your career.” It takes place on 27th Jan at 12 noon, GMT and is hosted by none other than the Thesis Whisperer, Dr Inger Mewburn!

We’ll be exploring the theme of social media and its usefulness to academics. Do you think social media is useful, or do you wonder how you could possibly make use of it, as a researcher? I’m sure that the expert panel will have some ideas of interest to you! Themes of online engagement through blogs, as well as writing for online audiences are bound to emerge, in addition to digital networking.

I was invited in my capacity as editor of the Piirus blog, and I’m sure I’ll explain a little bit about how Piirus differs from other online tools. It’s more of an online dating or introductions agent, and its extremely light touch. Its purpose is to help researchers make connections beyond their disciplines and beyond national borders. It also comes from the academic community itself, and is based at the University of Warwick alongside jobs.ac.uk, the hosts of the Google hangout event.

If you’ve never attended such an event online before, well they are something like a webinar, and something like a live conference panel session. You get to type in questions to the host, who will pass them on to the panellists. You can even send in questions in advance. During the event, you can sign in and then see and hear the panellists discussing the questions. If you can’t attend the event live, well no worries: it will be recorded so that you can watch it later.

There is a lot more information about it, over on the event page on Google+. I hope you find it valuable!

What is a re-blog?

I’ve been blogging for  years, but this is a feature of WordPress that wasn’t available on Warwick Uni’s own blogging platform. I like it as a way of engaging with other bloggers whose content I like (like re-tweeting and blog commenting all rolled into one!), plus it’s a way of providing content to anyone following my blog, when I find something of interest from somewhere else and don’t have time to write a lot myself.

It feels a bit like cheating, to me, because of the lack of effort, but if someone re-blogged my content with proper attribution (which WordPress does) and a friendly introductory comment, then I’d be happy. I note that in order to read the full post that I’ve re-blogged, you have to visit the source blog in any case, so it ought to drive traffic to the blogs of people who I’ve re-blogged.

I noticed that my re-blogged content did not appear on my LinkedIn updates (Aside: Who sees what in my Linkedin updates is increasingly a mystery to me!), even though my fresh blog content does seem appear there. But a re-blogged post does get tweeted and it appears to anyone subscribing to my blog through WordPress, of course.

Note to self: think about tweet appearance when commenting as I re-blog!

The elements displayed in that tweet are:

Title of blog post: my twitter handle: beginning of my comment: shortened link

All in all, a re-blog is a simple way to engage with social media.

Use ORCID to tie your profiles & outputs together in one place

I’m a fan of ORCID: their ID number is like an ISSN for researchers, to tie all your outputs & publications to your own name. It’s a very necessary initiative and they’re working with all the right people, so far as I can see.

I created an ORCID for myself, more than a year ago. My ORCID is completely unimpressive since I’m not a researcher, but how can I tell researchers about it without checking it out myself?!

During my big move, leaving the University of Warwick to live in Berlin and work freelance, I forgot to update ORCID with my personal e-mail address (I was bound to forget something!). Lately, I tried to update my ORCID and found that because I’d forgotten the password and no longer had access to the e-mail address I’d given them, I had to contact them directly. All so avoidable, if only I’d given them my other e-mail address in the first place! However, the staff were friendly and helpful, and now I’ve got access again.

ORCID has moved on a lot since I last looked… there are more options for content that you can add to your ORCID profile and I note that there are hundreds of suggestions for improvements from researchers who’ve used it! I know from my days as repository manager at Warwick, that people will always have ideas for what your tool could/should do, but the key is to focus on your core mission.

ORCID provides me with a profile, yes, but that’s not why I value it: I use LinkedIn for that, and others probably already use (or have to use!) their University profile webpage(s) or other websites. As I see it, the key mission for ORCID is to have the number to which other profiles & publications can be tied.

It’s so easy to add links to your website(s) on ORCID, and that’s what I recommend researchers to do, rather than using ORCID as a profile webpage (yet). The really important thing is to have the ORCID number, so that you can supply it to publishers when you publish in the future.

It is my view that ORCID is not the best academic profile site, in terms of displaying your work. It does offer you the ability to import your works from ResearcherID and SCOPUS, from PubMed and DataCite and various other sources, and that list is likely to grow (handy!). But I didn’t find it easy to manually add a work , and it seems as though, once a work has been added, you can’t edit it, and from what I can tell from comments of others, it’s not easy to de-duplicate from those import sources. Having said that, the manual adding form was simpler and easier than on some institutional repositories!

In my view it’s not an easy place to manage and maintain an online profile – yet! I daresay that will improve, so it’s a space to watch. In the meantime, it’s so easy to claim an ID and link to your profile elsewhere, that there is no reason not to do it!

 

 

About Klout and how to measure social media ‘me’, especially on Twitter

What is the best way to measure your social media impact? The answer depends on which social media you’re using and what impact you’re aiming for, so finding the answer involves knowing what measures are available. If you don’t want to read my whole investigation below, the executive summary is that (for the moment) I’m really only interested in measures of clicks on links that I’ve tweeted. But that’s highly personal to me and to find out why and what else I found, read on…

Klout seems worth investigation (again: I blogged about Klout and one or two other tools once before), and I’m writing here about the free version, as indeed with other tools I mention. There are many such tools, and I must refer again to the excellent blog post on this topic by Imperial College Library.

Klout measures and provides an interface to various social media sites, including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • WordPress & Blogger
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare

Initially, I only linked it to my Twitter account. I got e-mail reports each week, comparing the last week with the week before. I just linked it to my LinkedIn account as well and apparently it reports on that monthly. And I have now added WordPress, too.

Klout and Twitter

I’m not sure what they’re measuring but I noticed that my score went down in a week where I tweeted once and there were no re-tweets or interactions with me on Twitter, compared with the previous week. That previous week was across Easter and I had not tweeted at all, neither had anyone interacted with me in any way on Twitter. My first thought was to compare the Klout score to the childish notion of counting Christmas cards received in comparison to how many one sent!  On reflection though, social is what Twitter is all about, so Klout is measuring what Twitter does and “giving in order to get” is not a bad idea, if you’re funded in order to reach a large group of people.

Perhaps it’s worth mentioning here that Klout has a “perks” system through which you can earn privileges, but that’s also not my goal. Klout can measure more than just my Twitter activity so I will keep an eye on it now that I’ve linked two more profiles to it.

Like Hootsuite, Klout can create content for sharing across the networks that you’ve linked up with it, and schedule content to go out when you like. It also brings content to you that it thinks you might like to see. Perhaps this is an area that I should explore more, but I’m most interested in how it measures me, for now.

Apart from the weekly e-mails of my score, there is a section called “Measure” on Klout itself, and that gives a 90 day history. You can see a little blue line wiggling up and down across a graph, based on your overall score. This reminds me of Google Analytics, and it is useful in the same way. If interactions of the kind that Klout measures are what you intend to achieve,  and you know what activity led to a peak, it tells you something about the effectiveness of that activity.

A “Recent Activity” report tells me what I’ve tweeted and gives me dots according to how much each tweet has affected my score. All bar one of my tweets scored one dot (from a maximum of five), and now I can start trying to second-guess why one tweet scored two dots: I have an idea that it’s based on numbers of re-tweets and the score of the people who re-tweeted. (Also see below: I learn more about this tweet from Twitter and Hootsuite!)

In short, I’ve not seen something that’s right for me yet, on Klout, but there is a lot more for me to explore there.

Since I’ve really only looked at Klout for measuring Twitter, I ought to compare it with other tools that also measure me on Twitter. I don’t have time to look at them all, but  some other tools of interest are:

  • PeerIndex : seems a bit like Klout, at first glance, although the name sounds more serious, somehow.
  • Kred : see below
  • T-index : borrows the h-index method for measuring tweets & retweets!
  • Socialmention.com : I searched for my Twitter handle and got a score report straight away. Probably worth further investigation: I’m pleased with my 65% passion score. That’s a solid 2:1! But what does it really mean?
  • Twitter itself : see below
  • Twittercounter : see below
  • Hootsuite : see below

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Kred

Kred can be linked to both your Twitter and Facebook accounts, although I’ve only used it with Twitter. The first thing I noticed was a very busy dashboard measuring/reporting on all sorts of aspects. There is a global score, but you can also view your scores for within particular subject communities.

Kred explains that it gives two scores: influence (out of 1000) and outreach (out of 10). Influence is, according to Kred, “the ability to inspire action”. It is based on re-tweets, replies, mentions and follows. Outreach is based on your own re-tweeting, replying and sociability. Both scores can be affected by using +kred and thanking others for their influence. I do like the transparency about how scores are created. I didn’t find a community specific enough to my own interests which I thought was a shame.

Two days later, and I got an e-mail from Kred declaring me to be a “social media superstar” (and you’re not trying to flatter me into something?) and asking me to claim a .ceo domain. I did this, out of curiosity. It then picked up on my Twitter bio but in order to make its profile more than a slave to my Twitter profile, I would have to pay: of course!  I also found that I couldn’t  log in to Kred again, to check things for this blog post: possibly something to do with cookies. Two days later than that again, I also could not login, although it appeared to be a different problem. Oh dear!

Scott Levy compares Klout and Kred on Forbes.com and says that they are useful “to explore what someone does via social media, their interests, and even outreach”. Those writing about these sites (I googled “Klout vs Kred”) use phrases like “social influence”, “social authority” and “social credit”. They give advice that you should build a good network, have a strategy for sharing your content and leverage others’ influence to your advantage. That advice seems to me to be relevant to anyone wanting to build a good reputation, whether by social media or via traditional academic publishing & conference routes. The thing is, if you’re using social media then your score from any of these tools will reflect your reputation amongst those who also use social media.

I suppose that if I was going to be serious about social media and wanted to take such advice, then I’d want to use Kred to find people who are influential in the communities that I wanted to reach, and I’d look at the keywords for people who I was interested in following or adding to a list on Twitter, rather than just their timeline of recent tweets, which is what I do at the moment. But of course I’d only be able to do that for those who are on Kred, and maybe Socialmention.com (see above) would be better for reviewing others, since you can search for anyone’s Twitter handle there.

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Twitter itself

On Twitter, there is a Notifications link, and here you can see all the mentions you get, and when you’re added to a list, followed or a tweet is favourited, etc.  I monitor this but not particularly closely. I’m vaguely interested in how many/which of my tweets have been favourited. I don’t do this often myself, but perhaps I should, in order to understand faves better.

Under “Settings” on Twitter, there is a link to “Twitter Ads” and this has rich reports even if you haven’t paid for premium stuff. The tab here called “Analytics”  shows me my “Tweet Activity” and has a time line showing “follows”, “mentions” and “unfollows”. It also lists recent tweets and tells me various things about each one:

  1. the number of clicks on bit.ly links in my tweets (all to my blog, since I use Hootsuite’s tool normally, see below)
  2. which tweets have more than “normal reach”: the tweet that Klout gave 2 dots to, has 22 times normal reach
  3. faves, ie number of times a tweet has been favourited
  4. retweets (number of times)
  5. replies (number of times)

I can select to look at all tweets (default) or the “good” tweets (top third for me: oh look, a tweet with 43 times normal influence!) or the “best” tweets (top 15% for me).  Now I notice that it was also highlighting numbers that fell within these categories, in the default view. No surprises: I already knew that the “43” scoring tweet was well re-tweeted: it had a provocative announcement and I e-mailed about it and the blog post behind it to some contacts, too. I suppose it’s re-assuring to see what I might expect.

Also under “Analytics” there is a report on followers, which tells me which countries and cities my followers come from. It tells me their interests, who else they follow, and the gender balance, as well as tracking numbers through time and showing me that wiggly blue line on a graph. Ah, the lure of the wiggly blue line! I am a fish waiting to get hooked by it!!

There’s a lot more here for me to investigate: what are Twitter Cards, and what does it do with Websites? But I’ve seen enough: time is precious and I really don’t want to get hooked!

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Twittercounter

I registered for Twittercounter ages ago (September 2013, apparently), so at last there are some stats for me to look at. It allows me to compare myself with others on Twittercounter, but that’s not for me. It seems to focus a lot on number of followers. I am apparently ranked number #25,481,506 on Twitter, Worldwide. You can look at the top 100 and what they’re doing, so that could be good if you want to learn tips.

What I found most interesting, was that it picked up on hashtags on tweets where I am mentioned: in my case this was altmetrics, publishing and peerreview, but these are also the hashtags that Twittercounter tells me I tweet about, so it looks like people are tweeting about me when they re-tweet my tweets! I’m also not the world’s best at remembering to use hashtags, but this feature seems to me to have potential.

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Hootsuite

I use Hootsuite because I set up a nice tab page there ages ago, and it does everything I want to do with Twitter. (Tweetdeck does the same sort of stuff.) Hootsuite also sends me e-mails that I ignore (perhaps there are settings I should investigate?!) and has an “Analytics” section and a report on my profile. It is not as nice and clean looking as Klout’s report. But is it more valuable?

It tells me my number of followers and the number I’m following, and the number of lists in which I feature. It gives me three measures:

1) A graph that tracks the number of followers

2)A “keyword over time” graph. What’s that? A flat line, for me!

3) A list of my most popular links, with the tweets containing them. (seems to be based on the tweets I’ve made from within Hootsuite where I used their URL shortening tool so it can track if people have clicked on them.)

The report covers the last two weeks but I can alter the time period. I looked at the entire last year and my most popular link got 8 clicks. It is also the tweet that accrued two dots from Klout. Can Klout track this too? Or is there some kind of cause and effect, that what Klout is interested in has resulted in the number of clicks? Intriguing!

In conclusion

I am interested if people who follow me click on my links. This tells me that I’m contributing something of interest to others, since they seem to want to find out more. If no-one clicks on anything, then I’m either not saying interesting stuff, or I’m not in the right community, but either way I’m probably wasting my time. Not that I invest much time in Twitter, so overall, I’m happy that the level of interest matches my level of activity.

I invest a lot more time in WordPress than I do in Twitter, so really that’s what I ought to be measuring and monitoring, rather Twitter, although it turns out to be useful that my blog links are tweeted via a different URL shortening service, since I can see when Twitter brings readers to my blog, which is one of my goals when tweeting. Although I’m sure that there are other ways to do this.

Since I am on Twitter, it does me no harm to consider what I’m doing there and how I want to measure it or indeed whether I want to do more with it, and this investigation of the tools available for monitoring and measuring my activity there has caused just such reflections.

“Extreme Open Access”

This was the intriguing title of yesterday’s public seminar at Humboldt Uni’s IBI, delivered by Laurent Romary who is Director of Research at INRIA at present, who has held other prestigious posts and who has long been an open access visionary. In fact his seminar also has a subtitle: “scholarly publication as a public infrastructure”, but I figured that just the short version might be more intriguing for the automated tweet from this blog!

You can watch online recordings of IBI’s BBK seminars in full (watch out for this one: it’s in English!), but below is my summary to intrigue you further…

For those wishing to learn about Open Access (OA), Peter Suber’s book was metaphorically described as a bible!

I agree wholeheartedly with Romary’s view that it is better for scholars and universities to think about scientific information policies, rather than OA, and that we should anticipate that what we do with our publications will have consequences for what happens to and what we should do with, our research data. Matters of cost, quality, useability and visibility are systemic and when we publish articles online then we have an opportunity to also use article-level metrics. University Vice-Chancellors and directors should understand such mechanisms and the opportunities available.

Romary displayed profits from Elsevier from 2002-2011 and commented that learned societies are often playing the same game (chasing profit!) as publishers, before going on to look at OA possibilities. He dwelt on the 2003 Berlin declaration on OA, which I believe is an ideal: it includes the right to copy further and for an item’s availability to be irrevocable. “Extreme Open Access” indeed!

In my opinion, the Berlin declaration version of OA is the kind of OA that institutional repository managers would love to have but can’t all reach. In my experience, it was an uphill battle to get content at all, never mind getting it deposited along with a true understanding of licensing rules and copyright: this was a hurdle that a number of repository managers in the UK chose to save for later. But the Berlin declaration version of OA is definitely something to aim for!

Romary’s description of green & gold OA was very careful to explain that the two can work alongside each other, and that the one does not exclude the other. In fact, he described how this could work very harmoniously in a “freemium” model, which is similar to the way “Only Connect… Discovery pathways, library explorations, and the information adventure.” (the “unbook” that I contributed to & blogged about here) was published. The unbook is free in its html format but also available to buy in e-book download format or in print: similarly, journal articles that have been paid for as gold OA articles or that appear in subscription journals can also be deposited into repositories, for green OA. The paid-for version will have advantages to the person who pays, eg the reader’s experience & choice of formats, or the article is deposited into the repository on behalf of the gold OA fee-paying author.

INRIA, where Romary works has an information policy, which includes a mandate to deposit into the repository, and (crucially, in my view) assessments and reports on staff will all be carried out based on the input of repository publications. I asked how well the mandate was being adhered to, but apparently it’s early days yet. There is a centralised budget in order to monitor payments of APCs, and presumably this can be balanced against subscription costs, although INRIA’s researchers may publish more than they read (if I understand correctly), so gold OA looks like being very expensive for them.

The OpenEdition and Episciences projects from France sounded particularly interesting, as a way of integrating a repository into broader research and publishing infrastructures. At this point, Romary described that a repository has to be sophisticated. (Yes please, but who will pay for that?!) By way of sophisticated, he elaborated on the importance of authority lists for authors, institutions and projects, of persistent identifiers, and of long-term archiving capability. I think that all repository managers would aim for that, but different repositories achieve it to different degrees.

It is precisely this fragmented repository environment that Romary described as a big challenge for the academic community, if they are to make the most of their repositories and of their publications. The advent of scientific social networks (like researchgate, mendeley, academia.edu, etc) does not help with this fragmentation. But the good news at the end was that we are still learning and developing an infrastructure that could serve the public and indeed be labelled as extreme open access.

At the end of the presentation, we discussed some further related issues, including whether peer review is a good mechanism for ensuring quality, and the advantages of open peer review. Perhaps more on those themes in a separate blog post…

Google yourself & improve what you find

I’ve been refreshing my online presence on all the tools and sites that I value, but it’s worth a quick search on Google to see what comes up under your own name. I had temporarily neglected Slideshare, but it has a high Google ranking in spite of my lack of effort, making it one that needs to go up my priority list for updating… many thanks to jobs.ac.uk for the reminder, which I got via LinkedIn!

My search tips are:

  • use your name as a phrase search on Google, in quotation marks.
  • Don’t forget to look at the images results.
  • Google also gives you Youtube results: check there too.
  • If you’re an academic, check the results on Google Scholar too.