Driving User Engagement - 5:AM break out session

Wednesday 26 September


by Inez Van Korlaar, Head of Marketing, Digital Science


In the afternoon of the first day of the Altmetrics conference, Hans Zijlstra from Elsevier chaired a session about driving user engagement. He introduced the speakers as four leading women and of course invited the audience to be as engaged as possible, in the spirit of the topic of the session.

The first speakers of the session were Lily Troia, Engagement Manager from Altmetric and Inga Haugen, a scholarly communication librarian (and liaison librarian for the College Agriculture and Life Science) from Virginia Tech. Together they took turns talking about their research project in a presentation entitled “Extension Programs, Altmetrics and the Scholarship of Engagement”. Their research aims to develop altmetrics user personas for engaged scholars, and stems from a collaborative relationship between Altmetric and Virginia Tech. They started their presentation by explaining the concept of translational scholarship and showing how they will use Boyer’s model for understanding scholarship as an underlying framework for their research.

A user persona is a hypothetical “user” profile meant to improve functionality and quality of a service, and the concept originally emerged out of tech development/web design and user experience work. In order to develop user personas Lily and Inga will analyse data from interviews they conducted with four scholars from CALS, representing four unique scholarly perspectives. After careful analysis of the data the user personas will be published in a reusable way to help inform organizations’ and scholars’ efforts to amplify research visibility and impact.

Next up was Devina Dandar, a Scholarly Communications & Learning Support Librarian

from the Royal Roads University in Canada, who spoke about a literature review she did about the use of altmetrics in academic libraries. Her research question was: How are academic libraries using altmetrics to support institutional research impact services, and how they are aligning these services with national research evaluation exercises?

 Devina found very varied answers to the first part of research question - What services are libraries providing?  Librarians are offering various services such as helping with acquisition of altmetric tools to tracking and interpreting data to helping with grant applications and benchmarking exercises. One of her key findings was that larger libraries (>50 librarians) were seen to provide more dedicated benchmarking support and workshops/training for research staff than smaller libraries. She also mentioned that the role of the librarian in many institutions needs to change in order to reflect the new skills needed to support their institutions with both the use of traditional bibliometrics and altmetrics, something which is sometimes met with some resistance. Devina concluded her presentation with some recommendations to librarians that in order to adapt to their new roles they need to build good relationships with research offices, and become advocates for and educators of (alt)metrics within their institution.

The last speaker of the session was Bethany Farr, Social Media Manager from Taylor and Francis on “Using Altmetric to Boost Engagement and Track Trends on Social Media”.
Bethany’s team works across all organisational and subject specific social media channels for T&F, setting the strategies and best practices for the channels as well as engaging researchers in their subject specific channels. The team does a weekly check on trending articles in the Altmetric Explorer, sharing the top 10 trending articles on their subject specific social media accounts. Additionally, they locate subject specific hashtags in order to better engage with the communities, and track which subject areas perform well, using this to inform campaign planning. A time-consuming task, but well worth the effort!

Bethany went on to present an interesting case study of a campaign which aimed to grow the following of one of their social media accounts and engage with authors and key opinion leaders. Through a mix of organic and paid sharing of articles, tagging authors, and sharing news stories and press releases related to these articles, they were able to significantly increase engagement and following on this channel.

The three very different presentations in this session each provided an interesting perspective describing engagement in many different facets across the scholarly communication lifecycle. All presenters agreed that there is a role for librarians, publishers and others in the scholarly communication space to play in educating researchers on how to use social media more, and better.