Altmetric Blog

Archive: November 2012

Science communication gone awry Communicating the intricacies of scientific findings to a mixed audience of non-experts and experts is by no means a simple task. How can one explain complicated phenomena to people with little or no background in research, while also satisfying the specialists? From the choice of source material to the choice of words, clarity and accuracy are crucial components of good science communication. Also important is the interest level of the audience – a major challenge involves getting people to pay attention to the subject matter. The question “why should I care about this research?” is blunt, … Read More
The blog post that became a paper Science blogs are valuable tools that scientists often use to communicate research to the general public. Additionally, expert blogs that are geared towards scientists can enrich and clarify online discussions about scholarly articles. Bolstered by the reach of social media networks, blogs have the potential to exert great influence on generalists and specialists alike. Despite the important roles that blogs play in science communication online, the blogosphere rarely intersects with academic journals. Particularly, when journals and blogs write about the same topics, journals rarely reference blogs, while obviously the reverse is … Read More
  The use of “alternative metrics” (or alt-metrics) for assessing scholarly research impact was a hot topic in live and remote conversations surrounding this year’s SpotOn London conference. For the first time ever, there was an entire session devoted entirely to a discussion about the bourgeoning field. The session, called “Altmetrics beyond the numbers”, was run by Sarah Venis (Medicins sans Frontieres), Marie Boran (Digital Enterprise Research Institute), Euan Adie (from Altmetric), and Martin Fenner (PLOS). (An archived live-stream of the session can be viewed here.) If you were following the live … Read More
An interference effect of equations? Theoretical biologists are skilled at creating mathematical models that can predict, assess, and/or explain natural phenomena. However, according to a recent study entitled “Heavy use of equations impedes communication among biologists” and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the presence of mathematical intricacies in ecology and evolution papers tends to reduce the number of subsequent citations in non-theoretical (empirically based) papers. The authors of the study, Tim Fawcett and Andrew Higginson from the University of Bristol, found that as mathematical equation density increased in the main text, the … Read More
Two days ago, scientists, science communicators, journalists, developers, publishers, and  educators (to name just a few) descended upon London for the SpotOn London 2012 conference hosted by the Nature Publishing Group. “SpotOn”, which stands for science, policy, outreach, and tools online, brought together people who are passionate about improving scientific communication in the age of the Internet. With all the members of our team in attendance, Altmetric had a big presence at the conference. We helped to organise the Hackday fringe event and sat on the panel of the “Altmetrics beyond the numbers” session. Read More
Talking about #womeninscience In the past year, women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have received a lot of online attention. News articles, lists of female scientists on Twitter and Google+, a gender bias survey for journal editors, and conference sessions (such as in next week’s “Women in Science” session at SpotOn London 2012, #solo12WIS) have all intensified the online focus on issues faced by women working in STEM. As in previous years, International Women’s Day (8 March) prompted renewed celebration of women’s contributions in research, in addition to … Read More
The Internet: harmful or just a memory aid? The Internet runs parallel to our physical world: it can be a library, a playground, a television, a telephone, and a postal service all at once. Although it has familiar functions, the Internet now delivers content in a way that we have never quite experienced it before: instantly and on-demand. Every Internet user has learned strategies to pluck relevant items out of the deluge of information. This digitally-adapted lifestyle inevitably affects all users in some way, but the extent to which the brain has been “altered” by the experience of technology remains … Read More
Taken from Shuai et al. 10.1371/journal.pone.0047523   (TL;DR there’s a big new dataset of tweets about arXiv preprints up on figshare – check it out and let me know if you do something cool with it) It’s the PLoS Article Level Metrics workshop & hackathon in San Francisco this weekend. The Altmetrics workshop that Jason, Dario & Paul Groth organized in Evanston earlier this year was awesome, so I was disappointed when some conflicting responsibilities meant I couldn’t attend this time around (it’s all good – what’s stopping me from flying out is a new baby daughter). I’m … Read More