This month we’ve selected Biomedical Information Specialist Librarian Valeria Scotti as our Ambassador of the Month! Valeria is a passionate advocate for altmetrics as well as the use of Altmetric tools to help researchers track the online attention for their work. She regularly hosts workshops and courses on the application of altmetrics and recently won the best poster competition at the Simpar 15 conference for her poster promoting alternative metrics. Read on to find out about Valeria’s role and why she loves our donuts:
Tell me about your current work at Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo di Pavia. What does a typical day involve for you?
I work in the Scientific Library in one of the biggest and most important hospitals in Northern Italy. The biomedical librarian knows that behind and before every item provided there is a doctor, a researcher, a patient in need of immediate answers to their questions. My daily work consists of 1) helping researchers to retrieve scientific papers they need, 2) performing bibliographic searches for systematic reviews or meta-analysis and 3) managing online periodical catalogues.
I also run educational courses on the main bibliographic databases, on traditional bibliometrics, social media, and of course… altmetrics! In the past two years I have held a number of educational activities on altmetrics (2 workshops, 2 lessons within a masters on research methodology, 24 small-group practical tutorials in the library, and much more)
In this, the role of the librarian is not dramatically different from the past; what has changed is the context in which s/he operates, increasingly influenced by the instruments of the web.
At institutional level, with the fabulous San Matteo-ALL Metrics Team, we investigated the correlation between our scientific production, the traditional indexes and altmetrics. We are also developing a database that allows us to track citation data, IF and data from altmetric.com for every article published by our researchers. We will present our results at 15th European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) Conference in Seville (from 6-11 June 2016). During the conference, Alicia Fatima Gomez (from Spain) and I will promote a new Special Interest Group about metrics, including bibliometrics and altmetrics.
Where did you first learn of altmetrics?
I first heard the term “altmetrics” four years ago while I was studying usage statistics and bibliometrics indicator as a method to evaluate both subscription journals and scientific production. I read something about ‘article level metrics’ and my curiosity was instantly alerted. In a nutshell, it has been “Love at first sight”.
I believe that the research cycle doesn’t end with publication, on the contrary, it begins there! For me, altmetrics are the missing link between the ivory tower of researchers and end-users of each research: the society.
Unfortunately, the knowledge of altmetrics and social media for researchers in Italy is still at its very beginning. My aims in the past few years have been to get insight into altmetrics (how they are calculated, what they measure, how they are applied, how to expand their adoption) and to understand the role of librarians in this new scenario.
How do you think altmetrics can help researchers?
The goal of biomedical research is to make a difference in people’s lives. Patients and society as a whole are in fact key stakeholders in research issues and should be involved in setting the health research agenda and in assessing whether research results are important.
To “measure” how the public perceives and understand biomedical research is a very complex issue; however, altmetrics can be a valid tool.
I am in love with the Altmetric donut and its colours. Altmetrics open up a whole world of numbers: from tweets on a paper to the times it has been stored in a Mendeley library, or shared in a blog, from who is actually talking about and sharing your work, to what they’re saying, and why. I think this should be mind-opening for any researcher.
Furthermore, for a researcher it is particularly important to demonstrate the impact of his/her work, and its fit within the mission of their institution or department.
Finally, for young researchers with few publications and a few citations, it can be useful to include the Altmetric data in their CV when applying for funding.
What advice do you have for other librarians interested in advocating altmetrics at their institutions?
My personal advice to my librarian colleagues are:
- Teach yourself how these new indexes work and are used
- Illustrate these new tools to your researchers and support them in the use;
- Train other librarians on role and use of Alternative metrics in our daily work;
- Point out how these new metrics can work alongside with the traditional ones, and how they can be a useful tool for the evaluation of the impact of the scientific output of their institution.
I strongly believe that altmetrics are the future of bibliometric indexes. Our users will increasingly be the digital natives, who all use social media in new ways. Understanding and applying these new indexes opens the way for libraries to be more web-2.0-oriented and able to interact with social networks. The advent of social media has facilitated connections and sharing of information; the scientific community is now interested in the social impact of research, beyond the academic world. Biomedical libraries intervene more and more actively in several phases of the evaluation of research and alternative metrics may become a valuable ally. In this context, Librarians need to assess the potential for altmetrics to properly support researchers, particularly the younger generation.
With altmetrics, we librarians can fruitfully support the entire cycle of research – not only collection and cataloguing of papers produced by researchers, but also evaluation of their work. We can greatly help institutions and individual researchers or groups to understand their impact on society, to maximise the success of their research efforts, to highlight the value of the most successful research programs, to evaluate the impact of their publications, to find other researchers in their field… and so much more!!!
And so… Librarians!!! Be part of the process!!!
As a final word, allow me to thank the entire Altmetric team (especially but not only Euan, Cat, and Stacy) for the support you have given me over the past years and for this opportunity of connection between libraries and your workgroup. This shows how librarians can be protagonists and not just passive subjects in the world of bibliometrics.
Being an Altmetric Ambassador is an honour to me!
Thank you Valeria for your insightful take on the use of altmetrics, we’re so pleased to have you as an Ambassador!
If you or your colleagues are interested in finding out more about our Ambassador program visit our website here, follow us on twitter for our latest news and search for #altambs to find out what our Ambassadors have been up to.