About this blog

This blog is where I’m attempting to provide persistent access to out-of-print queercore and riot grrrl recordings via SOUL PONIES, and where I write occasionally on issues related to altmetrics, scholarly communication, and librarianship.

Use the top nav bar to find posts related to SOUL PONIES and my Work & Research, or view new additions on all topics as they are added here.

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Hej Sverige! I’m coming for you!


From September 21st – 28th, I’ll be visiting a number of universities across Sweden (even making a short stopover in Denmark) to discuss altmetrics with researchers and librarians, including a presentation at the ChALS 2015 conference in Gothenburg on September 23rd.

I could not be more excited for this visit–I’ve had a fondness for Sweden ever since seeing the film Show Me Love (or “Fucking Åmål” in Swedish) as a young teen (a fact that I’m sure will make any Swedes reading this post giggle). In learning more about the country over time, I’ve developed an admiration for its progressive politics, including its commitment to gender and LGBT equality and its singular role in caring for the world’s refugees. And in recent years, I’ve been very impressed by the important role Swedish academic librarians are playing in open access and altmetrics advocacy, as well.

Unless otherwise noted below, during my visits I’ll be presenting a new hands-on workshop titled, “Is your research making a difference?” to both researchers and librarians at each university. This workshop includes an overview of altmetrics, practical examples of librarians and researchers’ use of altmetrics, and a chance to find altmetrics data using Altmetric for Institutions, the Altmetric bookmarklet, and Impactstory.

Here’s my itinerary:

  • Monday, 9/21 – Technical University of Denmark (Lyngby/Copenhagen)
  • Tuesday, 9/22 – Göteborgs Universitet (Gothenburg)
  • Wednesday, 9/23 – ChALS 2015 Conference (this year’s theme is “Make your mark!”) – “What we talk about when we talk about impact” (Gothenburg)
  • Thursday, 9/24 – Chalmers University of Technology (Gothenburg)
  • Friday, 9/25 – Södertörn University – “Altmetrics: What all librarians need to know” &&&  Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Stockholm)
  • Monday, 9/28 – Stockholms Universitet (Stockholm)

If you’ve got any recommendations for the best konditoris (konditorin? konditoror?) to visit while in Gothenburg and Stockholm, I’d love to hear them in the comments below or on Twitter! I’ve recently started taking an afternoon fikapaus (such a wonderful custom!) and want to get it right while I’m in the motherland. And I’m of course always welcome to beer recommendations–which Swedish craft breweries do I just have to try?

On a more serious note, I’m deeply indebted to Urban Andersson, Marie Hogander, and the ChALS 2015 organizing committee for their invitation and support in getting me to Gothenburg to present on the 23rd. They’ve made this entire trip possible.

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The case against (only) using metrics for collection management

I’m currently working with Sarah Sutton at Emporia State University on launching a survey to get a sense of how librarians use altmetrics, including for collection development purposes. (Is it useful to know if a book has been cited in a policy document, even if it’s rarely circulated, so you don’t deaccession it? Can monitoring online activity for all scholarship–even articles that a library doesn’t have subscription access to–help librarians make much quicker purchasing decisions for articles and journals that patrons might request? And so on.)

So it was with a lot of interest that I read Chris Bourg’s “Infrastructure and Culture: A job talk” yesterday. In the talk (which rightly landed her the position of Director of MIT Libraries, at least in part), Bourg describes how institutional cultures are so important to (among other things) the failure or success of campus scholarly communication initiatives.

Crucially, she talks about the unintended consequences that a culture of quantification can have upon decisions that are made for library collections, especially collections that might not be popular but that might inform important research projects, like this study that uses old, uncirculated volumes to study the evolution of Brazilian Portuguese over time.

I encourage you to read Bourg’s post in its entirety, but wanted to pull out one section in particular that I think is a valuable way to think about assessment and metrics w/r/t library services:

Developing new ways of demonstrating the impact of our services and collections is a way of promoting a culture that values assessment, but also recognizes that the true impact of libraries and librarians is often delayed and too idiosyncratic to show up in most of the standard ROI style assessment tools currently in use.

So while I am a fan of assessment and data-driven decision-making, I think it is critically important that we make sure the data we are using captures the full story of our impact. As a social scientist with experience teaching and consulting on statistics and research methods, I’m committed to making sure that the assessment tools we use in libraries are the right ones, that the data we collect measures what really matters, and that we use methods appropriate to the decisions we want to make.

In this spirit, I ask: what methods are you using to drive collection development at your library? And how might you use metrics (including altmetrics) in a more nuanced way to achieve goals that are in line with your larger library (and institutional) culture?

PS Keep your eyes on your inbox–if you’re a librarian at an R1 institution in the US, I’ll likely be emailing you soon to ask you to participate in our survey on altmetrics and libraries.

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Altmetrics and analytics in IRs and digital libraries: where we’re at and where we’re going (upcoming LITA webinar)

On Tuesday at 2 pm, I’ll have the pleasure of speaking with members of the newly-formed LITA Altmetrics & Digital Analytics interest group about the white paper that I recently wrote with Michelle Dalmau (Indiana University) and Dave Scherer (Purdue University). Join us!

Here’s the webinar description:

Altmetrics and analytics in IRs and digital libraries: where we’re at and where we’re going
When: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 @ 2pm CST (3pm EST| 1pm MST| Noon PST)
Where: Online – https://bluejeans.com/164382960 [no registration necessary; just tune in on Tuesday!]

How are users engaging with your digital collections? What are people
saying about your university’s research on the social web? Just a few
years ago, the answers to these questions were virtually unknowable, but
nowadays a wealth of analytics services can help you learn the answers
quickly and easily. And soon, standards will enable cross-collection and
cross-institution comparisons that will allow for better benchmarking,
reporting, and more.

In this webinar, Stacy Konkiel (Research Metrics Consultant, Altmetric) will report on the results of a recent white
paper outlining best practices and important issues in using metrics to
understand the use of digital collections and institutional repository
content. Robin Chin Roemer (Instructional Design & Outreach Services
Librarian, University of Washington Libraries) will share how the
National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is shaping the future
of analytics services through the development of altmetrics standards.

Join us on Tuesday at 2 pm Central! https://bluejeans.com/164382960

Stacy Konkiel is a Research Metrics Consultant at Altmetric, a data
science company that tracks the attention that research receives online.
She has researched, published, and presented widely on scholarly
communication, research impact, and other issues in academic

Robin Chin Roemer is the Instructional Design & Outreach Services
Librarian at the University of Washington Libraries in Seattle,
Washington. She is the coauthor of the new book Meaningful Metrics: A
21st Librarian’s Guide to Bibliometrics, Altmetrics, & Research Impact
with ACRL Press.

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We’re overdue on altmetrics for the digital humanities

Humanities researchers I’ve talked to usually fall into one of two camps when it comes to altmetrics:

  • “Altmetrics are amazing! I’ve been looking for a better way to understand the use and impacts of my work.” or
  • “This is just another tool that favors the sciences and tries to reduce the complexities of my research into a single formula. It will never work for me.”

As an altmetrics advocate and humanist by training, I unsurprisingly tend to fall into the first camp.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately on how research is evaluated in the humanities, and it seems to sadly be as an opaque of a process as in the sciences. By and large, you’re judged by:

  • the university press you’ve published your book(s) with,
  • reviews that other scholars write about your books, and
  • occasionally, by the citations your journal articles and books receive

Unsurprisingly, this framework tends to favors books and, to a lesser extent, journal articles. The value of digital scholarship projects (websites, interactive exhibitions, etc), software, and research data aren’t taken into account under this model. Thank goodness that’s starting to change.

In the past few years, scholarly societies and some universities have created guidelines to help traditionalists understand the impacts of digital scholarship projects. Faculty are encouraged to think beyond the monograph when considering what types of work might have a lasting influence on the profession.

But these guidelines tend not to address newer types of quantitative and qualitative data, sourced from the web, that can help reviewers understand the full scope of the impacts your work may have. This data can include newer impact metrics like numbers of website visitors, what other scholars are saying about your work on their research blogs and social media, how many members of the public have reviewed your books on GoodReads and Amazon, and so on.

That’s where my current work comes in.

I’m now in the process of talking with humanities researchers, from department chairs to graduate students, to better understand what types of data might be useful in supplementing their understanding of impacts for digital humanities research.

And I’ve done two talks in the past week–one at the ASIS&T Virtual Symposium on Information Technology in the Arts & Humanities, and one at the Advancing Research Communication & Scholarship meeting.

Both talks were intended to get conversations started about altmetrics and the humanities–what might work, what would never work, what data sources could potentially be tracked that aren’t yet included in services like Altmetric and PlumX.

I’ll be doing more researching, writing, thinking and speaking on the topic in the coming months–stay tuned for more information.

In the meantime, I’d love to get your feedback in the comments below.

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On New Mexico’s “religious freedom” law (which doesn’t allow anti-LGBT discrimination)

I was surprised to learn yesterday that New Mexico has a “RFRA” (aka “religious freedom”) law on its books, similar to the one recently signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana.

One big difference between the two, though? New Mexico’s law CANNOT be used as a justification to refuse to offer services to LGBT individuals.

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Jeffrey Beall can’t seem to get altmetrics quite right

A man in a suit disdainfully shakes his head at someone else.

UC Denver librarian Jeffrey Beall recently published an opinion article, “Spurious alternative impact factors: The scale of the problem from an academic perspective,” (paywall) that sadly contains the same old misinformation about research impact metrics that he’s been corrected on before. This is a short post to gently remind Beall and his coauthors of what altmetrics and citation-based metrics do and do not stand for/measure/etc, correct some inaccuracies found in the article, and highlight two areas where we agree.

Let’s start with what they got wrong.

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Happy to announce I’m Altmetric’s new Research Metrics Consultant!

For the next six months, I’ll be working with the smart folks at Altmetric to build the company’s profile in the US. I couldn’t be more excited–they’ve built a fantastic product and are doing important work to support the larger field of altmetrics (including open altmetrics). Monday is my first day with the company, and I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running with an Altmetric ‘boot camp’ at their London offices throughout next week.

I also want to mention: I’ve been humbled by the outpouring of support I’ve received from the larger open science and altmetrics community upon the announcement of my departure from Impactstory. Thank you to everyone who reached out, offering kind words and job leads. I couldn’t be more grateful.

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