Altmetric Blog

Ambassador Spotlight – Jane Burns

Josh Clark, 16th February 2017

To begin our 2017 series of Altmetric Ambassador Spotlight interviews we spoke to Jane Burns, Research Officer in the School of Nursing & Midwifery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RSCI).

JaneJane has been an active member of our Ambassador programme since February 2015 and regularly presents on the application of altmetrics as part of her role at RSCI, as well as at University College Dublin where she is a part-time lecturer and PHD student. As well as this Jane is also a member of the Executive Council at the Library Association of Ireland and an active member of the research community on Social Media.

Jane’s passion for promoting altmetrics to her colleagues and students led to us ask her to speak in our first Ambassador webinar in December last year. We recently caught up with Jane to ask her about her current roles and to hear more about her latest plans for promoting altmetrics at upcoming events:

Tell us about your roles at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Dublin. What does a typical day involve for you?

Every day is different and that is why I love working at Royal College of Surgeons and lecturing at University College Dublin. RCSI is a fantastic place to work, our students and staff come from all over Ireland and the world. We are a medical school as well as other health professions such as physiotherapy, pharmacy and nursing.

My role in RCSI is Research Officer in the School of Nursing & Midwifery. I work on research projects and support my colleagues where their areas of research. I also teach writing for research and search strategy for our MSc and PhD students. Part of my role is to work with colleagues on grant applications and I serve on a number of internal research committees.

At University College Dublin I lecture in the School of Information & Communication Studies as well as the School of Education. Some of the courses I teach are Management for Information Professionals, Social Media & Health and Developing Education Digitisation Projects.

Where did you first hear about altmetrics? And what about them do you think is particularly useful for institutions such as yours?

My colleague, Michelle Dalton from UCD, introduced me to Altmetrics. I credit Michelle for introducing me to anything cool like this topic (as well as Twitter!).  I think they are a great additional source of data to understand how research is being viewed, captured and in some cases interpreted. Especially for RCSI, as we are very involved in measuring our researchers citations but also in understanding what our impact is alternative sources such as social media – we we want to explore multiple levels of impact.

At UCD my students want to learn about the whole area of social media for their own research, but it’s also useful for them to be able to demonstrate skills in this area when looking for employment.

You regularly present on altmetrics to students at the RSCI and UCD. How do you prepare for these presentations? What information do you think is important to include?

I think it is important to be clear that altmetrics are not a replacement for traditional bibliometrics but rather a complementary alternative, especially for new researchers who know that there is a time delay for citations to accrue.

The power of almetrics to measure where research is getting attention is important for researchers to see if they are indeed reaching their target audience. The other really positive aspect I try to demonstrate is that, as a researcher, through engagement and self promotion you have the power to help raise awareness about your research, as well as opening yourself up to new opportunities to identify collaborators and build a positive online research community.

What plans do you have for promoting altmetrics in 2017?

There will be more presentations and workshops. In particular I am presenting at a major Irish Medical Conference INMED (Irish Network of Medical Educators) about the use of social media in research engagement ,and altmetrics are a big component of that presentation. My students will be looking at how Altmetric scores attention and applications for various case study projects.

What advice would you give any Librarians and Research officers trying to promote the use of altmetrics in their institution?

Here are my top tips:

  • Engage with the Altmetric organisation – there are lots of online tutorials and the newsletters are a great way to learn what is happening. Also engage with them on Twitter.
  • Spotlight Altmetric donuts in research that you use and encourage people to monitor own research.
  • Present about the topic situated in a suite of other measurements and be clear about what altmetrics can and can’t do.

Importantly, the most important thing is to engage with people: they are curious you just have to show them the way.

Thanks Jane!
To find out more about our program of over 200 Altmetric Ambassadors promoting altmetrics across the globe, visit our website.

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