Altmetric Blog

Embedding Altmetric data and tools at the University of Reading

Guest Author, 16th August 2018

In this guest blog post Karen Rowlett, Research Publications Advisor at the University of Reading, explains her role in promoting the Altmetric Explorer and Badges at her institution. This post also covers how their Altmetric tools and data are used to keep track of mentions of the University’s publications and uncover strategic insights.

The University of Reading has had a subscription to Altmetic Explorer for over two years and we are now finding ways to embed the data in our everyday activities surrounding research and research impact.

In my role as Research Publications Adviser at the University of Reading, it is my responsibility to make sure that our research staff, support staff and students understand how they can access and make use of the wealth of data that we have available from our subscription to Altmetric Explorer.

I’m run regular hands-on introductory sessions on Altmetric Explorer through our People Development scheme for staff and the RRDP programme for post-graduate students. I also conduct bespoke sessions for individual researchers, Research Divisions and other professional services, such as librarians and the research communications, marketing, grants and research impact teams. Every incoming Research Division Leader is given an introduction to the tool and is shown how it can be used to track the reach and impact of research outputs. I’ve found that the reusable resources provided by Altmetric are a very useful starting point for my training sessions.


Introducing the Altmetric badges and Explorer platform

As part of our integration, the Altmetric badges are visible on our institutional repository, CentAUR. The article pages in CentAUR have recently

been rejigged to make the Altmetric information much more visible to visitors to the repository who might want to check out the Altmetric score as well as download an item.

The Altmetric score is also included in our specialist internal tool for peer reviewing University of Reading research outputs. This data, along with information pulled from the Scopus API on citations, SJR and SNIP, is part of a regular process that is helping our Research Division leaders to develop our researchers and investigate reach and impact.

We are using the saved searches and email alerting feature from Altmetric within the repository team to highlight outputs receiving a lot of attention via our Twitter account, @UniRdg_CentAUR. Although we’re not doing this quite as often as we’d like, we are finding that it is a useful means to promote the repository and increase awareness of the most talked about items. As many of our Schools and Departments have their own Twitter accounts, the information is often retweeted further.

The Research Communications team are also using the regular emails and alerting features in Altmetric Explorer so that they can find the most talked about papers and pick up research outputs that might not have been featured in press releases but are getting lots of attention within a specialist research community. They are also using Altmetric data to track the effectiveness of press releases on our research. I also encourage individual researchers to sign up for alerts so that they can find out when and where their outputs are mentioned.

Uncovering new insights

I’m currently trialing the reporting feature to provide monthly reports to Research Division leaders on the social media and other mentions relating to their researchers’ outputs. By constructing saved searches based on the names of Research Division members and their outputs since 2014, a report can be generated that is visually appealing and summarises the most recent mentions. PDF versions of the reports can be circulated or I can send them out via a public link – a sample report is available here.

One of the more interesting ways in which we are using Altmetric data at Reading is to dig into the information available to find out who is blogging and tweeting about our content. This can be useful to create lists of like-minded Twitter users and to identify blogs that might be worth following or writing for. It is also great for compiling lists of mentions of our researchers’ outputs in policy documents from organizations such as the WHO, FAO, NICE, World Bank and UK Government. We are doing this by importing lists of DOIs from targeted Scopus searches and then exporting the mentions into Excel sheets. By a bit of pivot table wizardry, it is possible to pull out the top news sources, tweeters and bloggers who are active in the selected research area. We are also using this approach, using data from Scopus and SciVal, to benchmark Altmetric activity so we can see how attention to our research outputs compares with those of our competitor institutions.

Example export of mentions per year from policy documents for papers published in a certain time range

This summer we’ve had a second-year undergraduate student working with Altmetric data in our Research Communications team and funded by the Reading Internship Scheme. This extra pair of hands has enabled us to experiment with the data and try to identify our social media savvy researchers and the outputs that may be quietly building up a high Altmetric score under the radar. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of Andrew’s investigations.

As the Altmetric Explorer and data keep evolving and growing we look forward to the new ways in which it can be used by staff and researchers within the university. I find that the Altmetric webinars and blog are really interesting and are great for keeping up to date with the latest developments.  I’m particularly looking forward to experimenting with the latest integration of Dimensions citations data within the Altmetric Explorer and seeing what insights the data can provide.

For more information about the Altmetric Explorer for Institutions and Altmetric badges visit our product page here. If you have any questions about our tools and data please email or tweet us @Altmetric.

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