Altmetric Blog

Ambassador Spotlight: Elaine Lasda

Josh Clark, 29th August 2017

Elaine Lasda is the Associate Librarian at the University at Albany and has been a valued member of the Ambassador Program since 2015. In that time, she has done an amazing job incorporating the teaching of altmetrics into her regular presentations and training sessions with staff.

For this Ambassador Spotlight we spoke to Elaine about her role, how she integrates altmetrics in her everyday workflows, her advice to researchers on getting started with the data and her plans for promoting altmetrics over the next 12 months.


Hi, Elaine! Could you tell us a bit about your role and what you’re currently working on at the University at Albany?

I wear many hats at the University at Albany. I give talks and presentations on bibliometrics and altmetrics to various on-campus constituencies including new faculty, doctoral students, librarians and, really, any campus group that has an interest. I maintain the University Libraries’ Scholarly Metrics online resource guide (LibGuide). I am the subject librarian who works with the University’s School of Social Welfare. I teach research classes primarily to MSW students and help them locate information and orient them to graduate-level library research strategies.

In addition to these main responsibilities, I am becoming more involved in the library’s scholarly communications activities. I work closely with two others to build the library’s campus presence as it relates to Scholars Archive, our institutional repository, an Open Access Day event, and I generally promote open access as a way to heighten the profile of one’s research output. Right now, I am working with an Instructional Developer in our campus IT department to create workshops to help faculty adopt Open Educational Resources (OERs) in their online learning classes. She and I received a $20,000 grant this summer to implement the workshops in the coming academic year. We are in the process of developing an RFP to guide faculty in applying to participate, and we will announce the fall semester’s selected participants at our Open Access Day event in October.


Part of your role involves running workshops for new faculty librarians which include training on altmetrics. What do you think is the best way to introduce someone to altmetrics?

Generally, I start with what our faculty and grad students already know about: I start with the Journal Impact Factor and traditional bibliometric indicators. I then talk about “reputation” approaches to impact, and from there I show how altmetrics can be used to quantify a “reputation” and will lead to greater exposure, and in turn, greater citation counts in the scholarly peer reviewed literature. I also use Scholars Archive, where we use the Altmetric Donut, to demonstrate how this information enhances the other metrics provided in our repository for authors, and how it rounds out the information available to tell the story of a researcher’s scholarly output and activity.


Where did you first hear about altmetrics?

I can’t remember for certain, but I know it involved hearing about the work of Jason Priem and Heather Piwowar at ImpactStory. It may well have been via the Library Society of the World, a message board on which I participate. Well, actually I mostly lurk, but there are excellent dialogues going on with LSW all the time on topics that I can practically apply in my day to day job duties.


In what ways do you use altmetrics in your role as Associate Librarian?

Right now the bulk of my work with altmetrics is as promoter and educator. I would like to see the institution take an interest in the greater power of altmetrics in looking at campus-wide impact and influence on the global scene.


Why do you think it’s important for researchers to learn about altmetrics?

It is important for several reasons. First, as noted above, they help round out the “story” of a researcher’s scholarly output. Second, it is important that all researchers and administrators alike use any metrics, including but not limited to altmetrics, responsibly.  Any type of impact indicator must be understood in the context of the institution, the discipline, the department, and so forth. Furthermore, within this context, the strengths and limitations of an indicator need to be understood by the researcher so that the influence or impact of scholarly output is not misconstrued or mischaracterized.


What advice would you give to researchers who want to get their work noticed more?

On our campus I promote the institutional repository, Scholars Archive, the growing number of subject or discipline repositories (Arxiv, PubMed, etc.), and making one’s scholarly output open access as a reputable way to raise the profile of the work on a global level.

In many workshops, I get every participant to set up an ORCID to raise the profile of their research through an author identifier. I have given one on one sessions to faculty to set up Google Scholar Citations profiles as well as ORCIDs and other author profiles that are searchable on the World Wide Web.

I also tell researchers to avoid “cutsie” names for papers – publication names should emphasize the terms that other researchers will enter into databases and search engines when looking for research on the topic in question.


What plans do you have for promoting altmetrics at the University for the rest of the year?

I am running my “Maximizing Your Research Impact Seminar” several times throughout the semester. In the spring, however, I am going on sabbatical and I intend to write a book related to impact metrics. I am currently working on the proposal as requested by an academic publisher. Once I get the green light, I will be more forthcoming, so stay tuned 🙂


Thanks for answering our questions Elaine and for all your hard work promoting altmetrics at the University at Albany! We look forward to reading your book soon!

For information on the Altmetric Ambassador program and details of how to join visit our website.

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