Our second Ambassador Spotlight interview for 2017 is with Innocent Awasom, Associate Librarian at Texas Tech University. Innocent has been an Altmetric Ambassador since March 2015 and is passionate about spreading the word about altmetrics and the importance for both researchers and institutions to embrace new methods for tracking impact.
Innocent’s role at Texas Tech involves advising and running workshops for students on how to incorporate altmetrics in their workflows, as well as making recommendations to colleagues on how they can use altmetrics to inform strategic planning. We spoke to Innocent about his role, his involvement in the research community, what he thinks makes an effective altmetrics workshop and much more.
Hi Innocent. Can you start by introducing yourself and telling us about your role at Texas Tech University?
I am an Associate Librarian at Texas Tech University with liaison responsibilities to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR), Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as the Biological Sciences Department. I am responsible for collection development, reference, instruction and outreach to students, faculty, staff and community users in the above disciplines. I collaborate with faculty to teach students the basics of research methods and how to access and use library resources in their academic endeavours – skills that translate to lifelong learning on accessing and using credible information. I am also embedded in research groups so as to provide resources needed by scholars. More importantly, I stay abreast of all the fun things that are going on in research across board – having a science background makes things a lot easier!
How did you first hear about altmetrics, and how do you use the data in your role?
The advent of Information Technology and the proliferation of social media brought altmetrics to the forefront. I learnt about altmetrics from Stacy Konkiel, got involved and was inspired to promote their use. I have been following the evolution of the open access movement, scholarly communications and impact of scholarly productivity on science and the wider community. Altmetrics data is used for current awareness of research trends and to see who is involved in what research, collaborating with which researcher, citing who etc. Such data is useful in collection development so we can identify which areas need further investment. It is also useful in demonstrating the contribution and impact of our faculty’s scholarship on global knowledge productivity, as well as impact on the local environment.
You take an active role in the research metrics community. What do you think is next for the research metrics space?
Research metrics is a dynamic field that is evolving by the day. From traditional metrics to the current altmetrics, with its almost instant results of impact, I think it is important that we continue to use both as they complement each other by providing a complete picture of impact. It is important that we look at both quantitative and qualitative evidence to guide our final decisions on our evaluation of research productivity. Adding social analytics in the mix, we realise that the field is wide open and much more can be deciphered as we dig deeper. The metrics and impact journey has just begun.
You recently held an altmetrics workshop with fellow Ambassador Brian Quinn at Texas Tech University. Can you tell us about how this came about and what promotion you did for the event?
Brian Quinn is a senior colleague and we both have interests in altmetrics and showing the impact and value of the research output of our faculty and colleagues. I remember years ago when he would use information on downloads of articles in our institutional repository, ThinkTech, to show the visibility or outreach of our researcher’s output. That interest eventually led us to collaborate on the altmetrics workshop, which has been a staple on our Spring and fall Library workshop series since about 2014. In regards to promotion, we worked with our very dynamic Communications and Marketing Unit (CMU) in the Library to develop a marketing plan that includes poster creation, approval and printing for broadcasting to the graduate students and faculty. Our departmental liaisons play an active role by forwarding to their faculty and graduate students. The international students office is also alerted so that all groups broadcast the workshop announcements on their e-groups. The CMU also sends out workshop announcements on the daily e-news TechAnnounce. The Library then creates an online registration form that send registrants email reminders about the workshop. By far the best marketing is done by word of mouth by faculty and students who have attended previous sessions.
Why do you think it’s so important for researchers to learn about altmetrics?
Every researcher craves for visibility and recognition of their scholarly productivity. Therefore it is important that researchers learn about the traditional metrics as well as the new alternative metrics that incorporate social media and other online platforms. To be able to position themselves to take advantage of the benefits of the new kid on the block – altmetrics – researchers will need to consolidate and ramp up their online presence. To do this researchers will need to create Researcher IDs, ORCID accounts and embrace open access initiatives, as they provide free access to whoever has the necessary information infrastructure to take advantage.
What information do you think is most valuable to include when giving an altmetrics workshop?
Review the evolution of research metrics and the impact of social media in the growth of altmetrics. Include information for your attendees on why it is important to show impact and advise them on how to position themselves to take advantage of the altmetrics.
What’s your number one tip or some tips for anyone wanting to run a workshop of their own?
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Do your environmental scan (needs, marketing outlet etc) and join the Ambassadors Program or visit whatarealtmetrics.com where there are resources to help you design your presentation.
And what advice would you give to researchers wanting to get their work noticed more?
Have a social media presence and be involved /active. Know where to publish and take advantage of quality and reputable open access publications that are free and garner global or scholarly community visibility.
Visit or website to find out more about our program of over 200 Altmetric Ambassadors promoting altmetrics across the globe.