Today I am at the LSE Future of Academic Impact Conference.

Follow the conference on Twitter at #lseimpact

The main conference room is pretty full with about 350 people expected to attend. Obviously it is an issue touching the hearts of academics. There are also a number of breakout sessions. First up for me is the session on Academic Blogging. 

Academic Blogging session lead by Chris Gilsen and Stuart Brown

The key recommendation seems to be to start out with a multi author blog and consider single author later on. A great question from the floor was about the infrastructure needed to successfully manage a multi-author blog. The answer – more resources than most of us have. Chris and Stuart are full time on the LSE blog and the day includes working on :

 Copy editing

  • Commissioning
  • Fact checking
  • Sourcing images
  • Editing
  • Feeding/checking twitter
  • Watching the stats

For those thinking of blogging focus on who are you blogging for:

  • Students
  • Other academics
  • Policy makers
  • Politicians
  • General public

The editors look at writing style and format

  • More informal
  • Shorter
  • Put your findings up front
  • Provide background
  • Introduce the authors
  • Use narrative titles
  • Put a great summary up front or lose the audience

 Think about

  • Linking
  • Google visibility
  • Timescales – articles may rise in interest later

A few more links that might be of interest (thanks @briankelly)


Back to the main room for

Impact and the New Digital Paradigm

First on stage is Victor Henning the CEO and F0under of Mendeley (see here for an earlier post on Mendeley).

Mendeley now has 2 million users. Most of its users are in Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard.

More that 300 million research papers uploaded since 2009. De-duplicated this still sits at 75 million research documents. this is almost twice what you find on SCOPUS.  

Mendeley institutional edition now providing librarians with new tools for engaging with their faculty. Impact with a new twist is now being used at the Smithsonian and other leading institutes – the institutional edition allows librarians to connect with user generated content linked to articles and see how they are being used (or not used).

Mendeley runs a live system which allows for up to the minute reporting without the delay of citation building seen in Google Scholar.

The next developments is Mendeley providing access to the data to developers building third-party applications. More than 1500 developers now working on new ways to use the data.

For example:

Reader Meter

Impact Story

Paper Critic



Ziyad Marar Global Publishing Director of Sage now on stage.

Scholarly publishing is heterogeneous.

There are 3 million articles submitted to 30,000 peer review journals run by 2,000 publishers each year. 1.5 million articles get published. Of that 1.5 million Social Science counts for just over 10%. The average Social Science journal publishes much less (about 40) articles per year than in science where this can be in the hundreds or even thousands.

 In the scholarly communications industry quality and authority are key. Marar believes that this comes predominantly from peer review. Sage questioning in Sage Open how validity in STEM transfers to Social Science. To build a scholarly reputation requires an assessment of expert peers, not just popularity. Academic publishing is not the same as the music industry. We have a lot of work to do to figure out how, in the new digital paradigm, we help upcoming scholars to develop an authorative voice.

 Jason Priem from Impact Story discussing Altmetrics

Working from how scholarly letters were innovated to create the first journals in the 1600’s.

The next revolution of publishing will drive diversity not conformity. More of the process may be explored by publishing data and analysis and visualisation. [I think we will get very different responses to that suggestion depending on the field]. Publishing the roots of research not just outputs. Twitter Citwations as the new impact measure!

1961, Garfield creates the Science Citation Index. Altmetrics now bringing this into the 21st century. Using measures from popular press, wikipedia etc. 

Journals are broken – they are the best solution using 17th century technology. Suggests using the web natively… This could mean measuring impact at the level of the item itself and not dependent on the reputation of the journal. Would have loved to hear more from Jason, I think he had about a quarter of the time he needed.

Jason’s slides are available here 


How AltMetrics will deal with the potential for data to be gamed and scammed.

Certainly there is error in measurement – fix with better instruments. AltMetrics is more about uncovering the ‘story’ now while we make the measure more robust. Also remember that traditional journals are also gamed (see

Metrics are NOT impact – they are indicators that we might be on the way towards impact but, real impact changes the world!

New impact measures do not replace others. They add another way to find interest, make connections, expose knowledge – but, they do not in themselves assess authority. Some argument that peer review is core – others arguing that the peer review process may actually stifle creative and innovative work. Pre print articles have the potential to change the rules of this game. Being reviewed by ones peers is important – however this is not the same as supporting the current peer review system. Authority too closely linked to prestige in the current system.

 How doe we assess authority from the data (not the popularity, celebrity, prestige)?

Sage publisher doesn’t not know how whether the new metrics will work. [Establishment digging in – just possibly]. Henning’s view is that we should trust the community of scholars to expose quality issues. More eyes on the problem may be better than a few anonymous reviewers. Jason Priem – quantification of impact is already embedded and drives hiring and pay. AltMetrics can help broaden that measure. Ziyad Marar making the point that in social science the judgement of experts may be more important than in the physical sciences. Henning disagrees – it is not always easy to know who is ‘qualified’ to judge.

A fantastic session comes to a close – this could have run all afternoon!


Breakout session on Academic Podcasting and Impact 

with Cheryl Brumley and Mark Carrigan

 Why podcast

  • Raise your own profile
  • Raise the profile of projects you are attached to
  • Multimedia content for individual/collective web presence
  • Disseminating research findings
  • Making events available to those no physically present
  • Connecting to the wider public(s)

Mark and Cheryl are not too precious about the definition of a podcast – think audio (and eventually video) online.

The rubric they offer is on a scale from simple to complex

  • Micro podcast
  • Interview
  • dialogue
  • Videocasting conferencing
  • Magazine shows

Thinking of higher education as a rich resource of converations makes it seem very sensible to try and capture some of these conversations.

Before you podcast make realistic assessments

  • Desired level of quality (from iphone through to pro editing suite)
  • Environment for the recordings – office/outdoors/large empty rooms
  • Length of podcast – need quality sound for extended podcasts.

Equipment from basic to more complex

  • Microphone
  • USB podcast mike 
  • Shure SM58
  • AKGC1000s (good option for sound control outside)
  • Also recorders basic Olympus to more complex Tascam
  • Editing software – Audacity

The basic message is that you can get into podcasting very cheaply and develop more complexity later.

Promoting podcasts

  •  Put them on personal or multi-author blogs
  • Personal or department web pages
  • Twitter, facebook,
  • Sound Cloud
  • Audioboo
  • iTunes U

 Some interesting websites

 … and a little test of Audioboo (recorded on iPhone a a later session).

 Wow, that was a a rapid fie session… billed as one hour, slides done in 15 minutes!

 One more resource – ESRC guide to podcasting 

Back to the plenary now…

Impact as a driver of Open Access

Stephen Curry from LSE…

Open access gives faster access to information and dissemination to potential users

UK policy for Gold Open Access: CC-BY (questions about whether it is worth it)

Examples of new journals “eLife” launching soon and will come with a digest that is accessible to the public.

Impact factors are not to be used in marking assessments  – this is not to be used

“Impact factors are wrong and bad and must stop” [no sitting on the fence here].

If we don’t want to impact factors then we need other ways of capturing the “essence” of the value of the work. there is a duty to publish your paper and disseminate (may need lay summary) to those who paid for the research. Open Access is a route to reducing total publishing costs which have “got out of control”.


Robert Kylie from Wellcome

Start with the fact that we don’t always know the significance of research when it is done (e.g. DNA fingerprinting). IVF was research in the early 60’s but had little societal impact until the late 70’s.

Definitely greater downloads of papers with Open Access. No definite evidence to say that this translates into greater citations.

Another benefit if OA is re-use. For every dollar that the US government invested in the genome project it generated over one hundred dollars in economic activity.

From 2012 Welcome will require all articles for which they paid to be published disseminated CC-BY.


Well that’s all from Senate House in London. A great day and wonderfully passionate views shared. 


About the author – Robert holds the Chair in Strategic Management at the School of Business and is Co-Academic Director of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Conflict Intervention at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. He was the founding Head of the School of Business and served as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Robert was head of Executive Education at the Irish Management Institute and prior to this spent 18 years in industry.

Professor Robert Galavan PhD

BA (Mgmt.), MA (Ad. Ed.), Dip. (Strat), PhD
Chair in Strategic Management

School of Business
National University of Ireland Maynooth
Co. Kildare






Tagged with:

Comments are closed.