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Friday, 17 June 2016

A guest post from our work experience student Joanna

Hello, my name is Joanna Hewson. I recently spent 2 weeks at ScHARR on my year 10 work experience, working 5 days with RDS (Research Design Service) in the innovation centre and the other 5 days with IR (Information Resources) in Regent Court. Over the course of the two weeks, I have gained so many new skills and have got a real insight into working life.

In RDS, I learned about how the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) can help with public involvement and funding in people’s research and found out about what it is like to do different jobs in the Research Design Service, such as what it is like to work in DTS (Design, Trials and Statistics) and what the CTRU (Clinical Trials Research Unit) do. Also, I helped set up for an event and afterwards, collated the information into a spreadsheet. I also produced a spreadsheet, table and list of organised dates for the Volidays scheme. This was interesting and I feel I benefitted from it through learning about jobs that I wouldn’t have known existed without this placement.

In IR, I found out about what different jobs they do as well, such as working on ScHARRHUD ( or doing infographics in the library. I also learned about e-learning and created some work sheets for online students. As well as this, I found out about the libraries on the campus and got a tour of a few. Also, I searched different databases to collect information on a topic for research – I feel this is where I learned a new skill in being able to use databases such as MEDLINE and Web of Science. I’ve really enjoyed the fact that people have given me work to do that may be new and sometimes challenging for me and not just small, easy jobs.

I’ve had a really great time on this placement and everyone I have met or spoke to has been kind, welcoming, helpful and patient with me if I didn’t understand something. It has been an excellently valuable experience and has given me an idea as to what I may do when I leave school.

Friday, 27 May 2016

An introduction to Altmetrics for Librarians, Researchers and Academics

Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall has an edited book coming out in June on the topic of Altmetrics. Altmetrics - A practical guide for librarians, researchers and academics is published by Facet Books. As part of the book launch Andy has created a short video explaining altmetrics in addition to writing a blog post for Cilip which can read in full below.

The book can be pre-ordered and purchased from various outlets. 

Altmetrics: What they are and why they should matter to the library and information community

Altmetrics is probably a term that many readers of this blog will have heard of but are not quite sure what it means and what impact it could have on their role. The simple answer is that altmetrics stands for alternative metrics.
When we say alternative we mean alternative to traditional metrics used in research and by libraries, such as citations and journal impact factors. They are by no means a replacement to traditional metrics but really to draw out more pertinent information tied to a piece of academic work. A new way of thinking about altmetrics is to refer to them as alternative indicators.

Scholarly communication is instrumental to altmetrics

There is also the focus on scholarly communication as altmetrics are closely tied to established social media and networks. Scholarly communication is instrumental to altmetrics and much of what it sets out to measure. These include tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs as well others including Mendeley and Slideshare.
The main protagonists of the altmetrics movement are ImpactStory which was set up by Jason Priem who coined the term ‘altmetrics’. They are joined by FigshareAltmetric.comMendeley, PLOS and Kudos, amongst others. These were mostly established by young researchers who were concerned that research was being measured on the grounds of just a few metrics. These were metrics that gave an unbalanced view of research and did not take into account the technologies that many academics were using to share and discuss their work.
Altmetrics is not just about bean counting, though obviously the more attention a paper gets whether that be citations or Tweets the more interesting it may be to a wider audience, whether that be academics, students or the wider world. The more Tweets a paper gets does not necessarily mean it is better quality than those that do not get Tweeted as much, but the same applied to traditional metrics, more citations does not always mean a great piece of research, it can occasionally highlight the opposite.

Altmetrics provide an insight into things we have not measured before

What altmetrics sets out to do is provide an insight into things we have not measured before, such as social media interaction, media attention, global reach and the potential to spot hot topics and future pieces of highly cited work. In addition altmetrics allows content to be tracked and measured that in the past had been wholly ignored. Such as datasets, grey literature, reports, blog posts and other such content of potential value. 
The current system recognised a slim channel of academic content in a world that is diversifying constantly at a much faster pace than ever. The academic publishing model has struggled to catch up with the modern world of Web 2.0 and social media and therefore academic communication has been stunted. Tools such as Twitter, blogs and Slideshare have allowed researchers to get their content onto the Web instantly, often before they have released the content via the formal channels of conferences and publications.
Tools such as ImpactStory, Figshare and look at the various types of scholarly content and communication and provide metrics to help fund holders, publishers, librarians, researchers and other aligned professionals get a clearer picture of the impact of their work. 
Fundholders can see where their funded research is being discussed and shared, as can researchers who may get to discover their research is not being talked about; which at least gives them reason to perhaps act on that. Publishers can view in addition to existing paper citations, how else they are being discussed and shared. Library and information professionals have an important part to play in all of this.

What is the role of the library and information professional?

There are certain roles in the library and information profession that have plenty to gain by becoming involved with altmetrics. Firstly those that deal with journal subscriptions and hosting content in repositories can gain a new insight into which journals and papers are being shared and discussed via altmetrics. This becomes increasingly important when making yearly subscription choices when journal and book funds are being constantly squeezed. Obviously this is not a solution or get-out clause for librarians when deciding which subscriptions to cancel, as you should not always pick the most popular journals at the expense of minority, niche journal collections, but altmetrics do offer a new set of identifiers when making those tough budgetary decisions. 
LIS professionals are often technically proficient and for those who deliver outreach services and support for academics and students there is much they can do to help explain the new forms of scholarly communication and measurement. Many library and information staff are expert users of social media and tools such as slideshare, Mendeley and blogs. Whilst library and information professionals are in the position where they are often in a neutral role, so can make informed decisions on what is the best way to aid staff discover and communicate research. These skills are starting to spread slowly within the academic community and LIS professionals are in an ideal position to capitalise on altmetrics.

The future

Certainly how academic outputs are measured in the future is anyone’s guess. We could move away from metrics to something that focuses on case studies, or move more towards open public peer review of research. Certainly the impact factor and citation indexes are with us for the foreseeable future. It’s likely we will see an amalgamation of systems with some regarded as more uniform and formal than others. 
As each month passes we see another set of tools appear on the Web that promises to aid researchers share, communicate and discover research, so we could be at risk of information overload and decision fatigue when it comes down to choosing the right tools for the job. The reality is that we are unlikely to discover a magic silver bullet solution for how we measure scholarly work. All of the options offer something and if they can be designed and coerced to work together better; scholarly communication and measurement could reach a plateau of productivity.
Yet this requires an awful lot more engagement from the academic community, one that is already under pressure from various angles to deliver research and extract from it examples of impact. Nevertheless, altmetrics clearly look like they are here to stay for the mid-term at the very least and are gaining acceptance in some parts of the research and publishing sphere. 
For now I suggest you investgate Figshare, ImpactStory, Mendeley and to name but a few in addition to signing up for an librarian account and installing their web bookmarklet. 
To summarise, if we were to draw a Venn Diagram with social media in one bubble, metrics in another we would clearly see librarians in the overlapping area alongside altmetrics. It’s really down to whether you want a share of that space?

Friday, 20 May 2016

HILJ Editorial on Big Data and why it matters for librarians

In the latest issue of the Health Information and Libraries Journal, Andy Tattersall writes the editorial on Big Data and why library and information professionals should take notice of it. 

Big data is a much-used term these days, yet it's definition varies depending on who you talk to. Dan Ariely in a Facebook status update crudely, but accurately compared to teenage sex: “Everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it." 

In addition, who owns big data, or more importantly who's role is it to oversee and look after these large datasets, increasingly hosted on publicly accessible websites. Certainly there is much scope for librarians to get involved in big data as it falls under the remit of research data management, a role often carried out in the library or associated departments.  The abstract of the article is below and subscribers to the journal can read the full editorial or at some point find the pre print full text via the White Rose Repository.

Big data, like MOOCs, altmetrics and open access, is a term that has been commonplace in the library community for some time yet, despite its prevalence, many in the library and information sector remain unsure of the relationship between big data and their roles. This editorial explores what big data could mean for the day-to-day practice of health library and information workers, presenting examples of big data in action, considering the ethics of accessing big data sets and the potential for new roles for library and information workers.
Big Data – What is it and why it matters
White Rose Repository entry

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

24 Hour Inspire and the Pop up Radio Station

Mark Clowes
Mark Clowes
Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall
For the last five years the University of Sheffield have hosted 24 hours of back to back 30 minute lectures in aid of local cancer charities. The event was started in 2012 by Tim Richardson who delivered 48 lectures over the course of 24 hours. Sadly Tim passed away in the following year due to the condition he was raising money to fight against. The event has continued with the support of many of Tim's colleagues and friends under the stewardship of Catherine Annabel. This year Andy Tattersall and Mark Clowes brought with them a pop up radio station to compliment this wonderful event.

24 Inspire Radio
Still standing after no/little sleep
The idea was simple, create a pop up radio station that played virtually nothing but vinyl records (well they are trendy again according to the young folks). Andy approached Catherine Annabel over a coffee some months earlier and she was instantly behind it. The idea was to use the student radio stream from Forge FM and take it over with staff playing tracks from their own collections, the only rule being 'vinyl playlists' or thereabouts. Mark and Andy are no strangers to playing on the radio and in clubs, both have a secret (well until now) hobby of collecting vinyl and playing on the airwaves and in clubs. Andy spent six years on the pirate radio stations overlooking Sheffield and playing up and down the country in underground clubs over a 12 year period, and currently hosts his own monthly radio show on the disco balearic station Purple Radio. Whilst Mark has also played at many parties and nights and releases a monthly podcast via his Mixcloud page under the guide of The Vinyl Librarian.

Graham McElearney interviewing Chris Sexton for her Desert Isand Disco
Dr Chris Sexton picks tracks for her Desert Island Disco
All of this could not be achieved without the support of many colleagues who were encouraged to come along and play their own records. We had Hadrian Cawthorne dropping some quality jazz-funk and Matt Robson playing indie classics from Journalism Studies. Whilst Chella Quint played a varied selection, busting out a few dance moves in the process. Whilst Chris Howett from the Student Union took listeners on a memory trip back to when he ran the seminal NY Sushi Night. Recently retired Stuart Barkworth from CiCS dusted down his trusty records in his attic to take listeners on an early morning journey through the late sixties and early seventies. Finally Graham McEleanery went post punk and electronic on the Thursday evening. All of this was made possible by Ian Knowles from CiCS who did all the fancy technical work and made sure the station ran well with support from colleagues. The Director of CiCS, Chris Sexton was always on hand, as an avid supporter of Inspiration for Life, bringing in food and snacks and listening to the live broadcasts as they happened.

Andy Interviewing Tony Ryan OBE
Andy Interviewing Tony Ryan OBE
In addition we had various guests pop in to see us and chat whilst the real highlights were the five Desert Island Discos where guests picked six tracks, a book and luxury item to take to a desert island. The guests included, Dr Chris Sexton, Dr Mike Weir, Professor Tony Ryan OBE, Chella Quint and Catherine Annabel. 

Mark Clowes ran his own Sheffield pop music quiz which Pete Mella from CiCS won after a very tense tie-break. The manager of Forge FM, Luke Wilson (who provided us with the radio stream and licence) brought in his own records for a roundtable review. Being a student and liking new popular beat combos, his choices reviewed by a panel of four 'experts' with our own Artic Monkeys coming out on top, everything else was trashed.

The music roundtable panel
The roundtable review panel
On top of that, Andy delivered a lecture as part of the proceedings in the main room on 'How to be a Digital Academic'. Already plans are afoot to run the radio station again with everyone who was involved last year to be part of the 2017 radio station. Whilst there are no shortage of potential candidates for the Desert Island Disco, so watch this space. It's not too late to donate, so if you want to help local teenage cancer charities, please go to the link below. Many thanks. 

We hope to get audio feeds of the shows, which ran from 3pm on Thursday till 5pm on Friday, but for now enjoy Mark Clowes very early morning shows.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

#HASlibcamp - a health and science libraries unconference

Suzannah Bridge
On Saturday Suzannah attended #HASlibcamp, a health and science libraries ‘unconference’ hosted at City University. Here she reports back on the experience.
Before going to #HASlibcamp I was particularly intrigued by the 'unconference' format, and it did not disappoint. At the start of the day anyone interested in leading a session had 30 seconds to pitch, and then conference programme is put together on the spot. This allowed for some spontaneous collaboration as some people pitching sessions on a similar topic or theme decided to combine their ideas into a single session during the pitching process.
The finished conference programme

Once the programme had been assembled we had a few minutes to gather around and decide which sessions to attend. Unlike most conferences there is no pressure to stay at a session until the end, you are free to switch sessions at any time. 
The first session I chose to attend was on future docs and app swaps pitched by Lyn Robinson and Ka-Ming Pang. We talked about how users are simply unaware of how much personal data they are giving to health apps, and subsequently give little thought to the privacy or security of this data. This led us to consider our role as LIS professionals; we could advise users on which apps are ‘safe’, but equipping users with the skills to evaluate apps for themselves is far more valuable. Ka-Ming then told us about the app swaps she holds at St George’s, these events give staff and students the chance to talk about apps they use, or in some cases have developed. These events also allow staff and students who might not normally interact with each other to swap knowledge and experience.
It was really hard to choose which session to attend next! In the end I settled on the ebooks session, pitched by Frank Norman, where we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of ebooks, particularly in terms of how well they meet user needs. Our collective experience said that users often prefer physical copies of books yet libraries are, in some cases, choosing to only purchase ebooks. This led us to question what is driving the move toward ebooks; user needs/ demand, or space and financial considerations. We didn’t come up with any answers but it’s certainly a question worthy of further consideration.
Then it was time for lunch! Lunch was ‘crowdsourced’ – everyone brought along something to share which meant we ended up with a good (if rather eclectic) spread of food. I really enjoyed this aspect of the unconference format.
After lunch I went along to the online induction treasure hunt session led by Catherine Radbourne and Fiona Paterson from City University. Catherine and Fiona created a pirate themed online induction treasure hunt quiz for nursing students at City to introduce them to the library resources. Crucially the quiz got students using resources to answer questions relevant to nursing, ensuring students could see the relevance of what they were doing. After showing us their induction Catherine and Fiona put us into groups so we could have a go at creating an induction quiz. The group I was in came up with an A&E scenario where a patient had presented with an allergic reaction, and students had to use library resources to help diagnose and treat the patient. The activity we devised was by no means perfect (we only had 20 minutes!), but it’s certainly a good starting point.
Creating an induction quiz
This session led into a second session discussing online quiz based inductions, I stayed for the first 15 minutes or so but then decided to switch to the user needs session. I was thrown straight into a group discussion about how a billionaire might get his son to break up with a gold-digging girlfriend, without the son knowing he was involved(?!) – a conundrum intended to get us to think outside the box. This led onto a discussion about the necessity of information literacy skills to serving user needs.
During this final session I was really struck by how many of the conversations we had throughout the day came back to information literacy. The need to empower users to find and evaluate information for themselves was a recurring theme, and the value of these skills really must not be underestimated.
If you’d like to read more about the day then #HASlibcamp have created a handy list of write ups, it’s also worth having a look at #haslibcamp on Twitter. Thanks to the #HASlibcamp team for organising the event, #citylis for hosting, and UKeiG for sponsoring the travel bursary that allowed me to attend.

This post originally appeared on Suzannah's blog and has been reproduced with permission.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Writing for Blogs and the Media - ScHARR Bite Size presentation

Andy Tattersall gave a presentation for the latest series of ScHARR Bite Size talks on writing for blogs and the media. The session was recorded and can be viewed below.

Academic blogging can be an effective way of communicating your research whilst reaching new and diverse audiences. Blogging opens up potential opportunities that can help with impact case studies, lead to collaborations and other outputs. It can be a break from traditional academic writing and help researchers and teachers write interesting and engaging expert pieces in their field of work and respond accordingly to hot topics.  Within ScHARR there are departmental blogs which colleagues can write for as well as many external websites with established audiences. Andy Tattersall will talk about the blogging process, the tools for effective blogging and the opportunities to publish at ScHARR and beyond.

Friday, 15 April 2016

From Clicks to Cites - Social Media for Social Scientists

Andy Tattersall
Andy Tattersall
Earlier this week Andy Tattersall was asked to be part of a panel discussion within the Faculty of Social Sciences and the launch of their Northern Exposure events. Northern Exposure is a new series of events, aimed at helping social scientists maximise the reach and accessibility of their research. It is coordinated by the Social Sciences Partnerships, Impact and Knowledge Exchange (SSPIKE) team and Communications team in the Faculty of Social Sciences. 

The event was opened by Professor Gill Valentine, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Social Science. Whilst the keynote was a very interesting talk by Mark Carrigan, author of an apt new book, 'Social Media for Academics'. Mark talked about the potential for social media for academics whilst chalked the latest daily statistics for Google Search, Tumblr posts and Tweets sent just to name but a few. 
Social Media for Academics
Mark Carrigan's book

Following that was an interesting panel discussion around the topic of the 'The academic blogosphere' that was chaired by Sarah Boswell, Marketing and Communications Manager, Faculty of Social Sciences. The panel included Laura Hood - Politics and Society Editor; The Conversation UK, Andy Tattersall - Information Resources; ScHARR, University of Sheffield, Sierra Williams - Managing Editor; LSE Impact blog and James Wilsdon - Director of Impact and Engagement; Social Sciences, University of Sheffield.

The event looked at the the value social media can contribute to shaping academic research and how it could be used as a resource to disseminate findings. How academics can use social media as a way of encouraging meaningful discussion. How social media can be used to build a prominent research profile, access relevant information and build important stakeholder networks. How to begin overcoming the barriers to engaging with social media in research. 

Panel debate at Northern Exposure
Panel debate at #NthExpo
Various questions were raised as to overcoming the barriers to using social media in academia, dealing with negative comments and trolls, where should support come for academics using social media.
After the panel discussion, delegates were split into four groups and worked with panel members to discuss some of the challenges facing them and the use of social media. It was a worthwhile and interesting event and hopefully springboard on to other events in the Faculty and further afield. Tweets from the day can be seen by following the #NthExpo hashtag