In keeping with the “publisher perspective” theme we established last month, our featured Altmetric Ambassador for March is Paul Trevorrow, Executive Journals Editor at Wiley. Paul is based in Chichester and has followed the development of altmetrics and Altmetric since 2012. Have a look at his responses below to find out more about why he finds altmetrics useful:
Tell me about your current work at Wiley. What does a typical day involve for you? I manage a portfolio of Physical Sciences journals. It is a vibrant and varied position and no day is typical which is why it is so enjoyable. I work with some of the world’s most talented scientists. I help them and their communities achieve their publication objectives and keep them well informed of the publishing ecosystem. My role often involves hosting author workshops and Altmetric is always in my slide deck!
Where did you first learn of altmetrics? I was fortunate enough to Beta test/preview Altmetric back in 2012. I was excited by the donut. Who doesn’t like a calorie- and guilt-free donut? Such a neat way of presenting the data. As a keen bibliometrician and social mediaphile I was touched by a metric quantifying the space beyond the classical usage and citation orientated measures. I am proud of Altmetric’s journey and its adoption by publishers such as Wiley. As a beta tester, an early supporter and an Ambassador of Altmetric, I feel honoured to have been a part of this journey.
How do you think Altmetric data can help journal editors? A rather simple answer is that it helps identify the popular content in our publications. It is a useful alternative to download and citation statistics, offering a window into the discursive social universe. Furthermore, Altmetric enables me to uncover the particular channels that are engaging with our content. This provides a valuable insight into these unique communities of interest. This is especially enlightening when dealing with finite, niche topical areas. In terms of stakeholder reporting, it is always informative to present the big donut scores. The big unexpected donuts always give us lots to discuss.
4. How do you think altmetrics can help authors? For me, presenting Altmetric within author workshops highlights to authors how networking can bring greater rewards for their labour. It reveals the social nodes of their study, enabling them to make meaningful connections that will enrich and progress their expertise. The beauty of social media is the speed of the connection; a researcher can glean responses from their community with relative immediacy. I guess the million-dollar question (other than what are this week’s lottery numbers) is by what yardstick do we measure the influence of research? There are known quirks in the classical measures but what I like about Altmetric is that it offers representation through accessible and democratic means and of course it comes with a guilt-free donut!
One of the things I really like about Paul’s responses is that he has included lots of examples of how he has used altmetrics in a practical way, by integrating the data into his workflows, and encouraging others to do the same. Paul mentions that he uses the data to identify Wiley articles that have received a significant amount of online attention in the “discursive social universe”, and has used particularly high-scoring articles as talking points, when presenting the data to key stakeholders. He also mentions that he has introduced many Physical Sciences authors to the benefits of altmetrics – this is kind of community spirit and knowledge dissemination we were hoping for when we developed the Ambassadors programme.
I also think Paul’s point about using altmetrics to find out which channels are engaging with niche research topics is very valuable. For example, you could use the Altmetric blog mentions to find out whether influential physical sciences scholars are following and writing about your journal’s papers. There are multiple groups engaged in marketing and disseminating scholarly content; academic authors, journal staff and communications offices at universities are just a few of the interested parties. All three groups can use altmetrics data to inform and shape their outreach strategies.
The other thing I noticed about Paul’s answers is that he has unearthed some of the major theoretical talking points regarding altmetrics. The question “by what yardstick do we measure the influence of research” is a big one, and is something the Altmetric team and altmetrics researchers are constantly considering.
One of our perspectives on this issue is that the word “influence” is very hard to quantify and qualify. However, we feel that by tracking a range of online sources and bringing all the data together, we can help researchers, institutions and publishing professionals uncover a wealth of useful insights into who has been talking about research beyond the academic sphere. My ambassador partner in crime Stacy Konkiel often describes Altmetric mentions as “digital footprints” – that is, indicators of influence, rather than direct evidence of it.
Stacy, Josh and I would like to thank Paul for taking the time to provide such detailed and well-considered answers to these questions. It’s really great to have publisher ambassadors on-side to help explain the benefits of using altmetrics to peers and researchers.
Paul will be speaking at an Altmetric webinar at the end of this month, entitled “Altmetrics for journal editors: engagement, influence and authors”. More information is available here.
To find out more about the Altmetric Ambassadors program, see this page. Feel free to follow #altambs on Twitter – thanks for reading!