Open Science & Altmetrics Monthly Roundup (January 2015)

2015 kicked off with good news about Nature Publishing Group’s increased commitment towards Open Access, the launch of Frontiers’ research impact social network, Loop, and seven more cool developments in the world of Open Science and altmetrics. Read on!

Nature Publishing Group’s OA journals go CC-BY

Twenty Open Access journals published by Nature Publishing Group recently made the move to offering CC-BY by default. Previously, CC-BY-NC was the default license available for most NPG OA journals, and many authors had to pay higher article processing charges to use a CC-BY license. We applaud this move, which was one of many towards Open Access that NPG made in 2014. For more information, read Claire Calder’s recap of her team’s efforts on the Of Schemes and Memes blog.

How to pay for Gold Open Access fees, even if you’re not well-funded

Self-described “scientific have-not” Zen Faulkes recently blogged about the many strategies he uses to pay for the article processing charges (APCs) his Open Access publications incur.  They include: finding OA journals that waive APCs, petitioning his department chair, and sometimes asking co-authors at other institutions to cover the costs. It’s a great read for anyone concerned about making their work Open Access who lacks grant funding to cover the fees. Read the full list on Dr. Zen’s blog.

Elsevier acquires news monitoring service NewsFlo

Elsevier announced their acquisition of NewsFlo this month. The news monitoring service–which mines over 50,000 news outlets for mentions of research articles–will be integrated into reference management and social bookmarking site Mendeley. This partnership will pave the way for new altmetrics reports for articles and other content added to the platform. Currently, is the only altmetrics aggregator that reports mainstream media mentions. More information on the acquisition can be found on TechCrunch.

Other open science & research metrics news

  • Altmetrics strategy meeting recap available for all to read: In December, altmetrics researchers and organizations from around the world convened at the PLOS headquarters in San Francisco to discuss ways to improve metrics for all. A report of the meeting’s results is now available on Figshare.

  • Frontiers launches new research impact social network, Loop: Loop is designed to bring together download and pageview metrics from a variety of publisher and academic websites into a researcher-centered profile. (Currently, these metrics are only sourced from Nature Publishing Group and Frontiers journals.) Researchers can follow each others’ profiles to get updates on new publications, and authors’ research networks (sourced from article co-author lists) can be easily explored. The free service plans to monetize in the future by possibly selling ads or selling its users’ data to advertisers. You can learn more about the service on the Loop website.

  • The many ways in which researchers use the scientific literature (hint: it ain’t only about citations): Paleontologist Andy Farke shared how he uses articles in his day-to-day work, and (not surprisingly) “citing in his own papers” isn’t high on the list. Instead, he uses articles to inform his teaching, when reviewing manuscripts, to help prepare him for talking to the public and the media about newly published studies, and more. So why then does academia value citations over the other ways we can measure articles’ use? Read Andy’s full list on his blog.

  • Impactstory Advisor of the Month, Chris Chan, on the library’s role in scholcomm innovations: We recently chatted with Chris on his work to bring ORCID to his campus, and what he thinks all librarians should do to foster the adoption of emerging scholarly communication technologies at their universities. Read the full interview on the Impactstory blog.

  • New resources available for librarians interested in altmetrics: We recently published two LibGuides (one for researchers and one for librarians) that can help librarians do altmetrics outreach at their university. We’re also now hosting virtual “office hours”, where librarians can message Stacy (our Director of Marketing & Research who’s also an academic librarian) to chat and ask questions about altmetrics and Impactstory. And for those in search of altmetrics professional development opportunities, Library Juice Academy is hosting an altmetrics & bibliometrics course.

  • 85% of research data is uncited & only 4-9% have altmetrics: a new study digs deep into citations and altmetrics for research data. Read the full study on Arxiv.

Want updates like these as-they-happen? Follow us on Twitter! In addition to open science and altmetrics news, you can also get Impactstory news–the only altmetrics non-profit.

Steal these altmetrics LibGuides!

Screenshot of the "Ultimate Guide to Altmetrics (Librarian Edition)" libguide page

We’re pleased to announce yet another altmetrics resource for librarians: ready-to-reuse altmetrics LibGuides!

As an academic librarian, I know how hard it can be to find and compile timely, trustworthy resources on a topic like altmetrics. That’s why I’ve created two altmetrics LibGuides, now available for reuse under a CC-BY 4.0 license.

These “Ultimate Guides to Altmetrics” can help researchers and librarians better understand the benefits to (and limitations of) altmetrics. They include:

  • Examples of ways that researchers have used altmetrics in their CVs and for tenure and grants

  • Up-to-date tutorials on finding citation counts and altmetrics for articles, books, data, software, and more

  • Detailed comparisons of, Impactstory, and PlumX

  • Curated videos, handouts, presentations, and other librarian-created altmetrics outreach materials

These are among the most up-to-date, comprehensive altmetrics LibGuides currently available. Check them out, I think you’ll agree:

The Ultimate Guide to Altmetrics (Researcher Edition)

The Ultimate Guide to Altmetrics (Librarian Edition)

Reuse these LibGuides at your own library or pass them along to a colleague. And please do let me know if you have questions or suggestions for improvements (

Impactstory Advisor of the Month: Chris Chan (January 2015)

Photograph of Chris Chan

The first Impactstory Advisor of the Month for 2015 is Chris Chan, Head of Information Services at Hong Kong Baptist University Library.

We interviewed Chris to learn more about his crucial role in implementing ORCID identifiers for HKBU faculty, and also why he’s chosen to be an Impactstory Advisor. Below, he also describes his vision for the role librarians can play in bringing emerging scholarly communication technologies to campus–a vision with which we wholeheartedly agree!

Tell us a bit about your role as the Head of Information Services at the Hong Kong Baptist University Library.

My major responsibilities at HKBU Library include overseeing our instruction and reference services, and advising the senior management team on the future development and direction of these services. I’m fortunate to work with a great team of librarians and paraprofessionals, and never tire of providing information literacy instruction and research help to our students and faculty.

Scholarly communication is a growing part of my duties as well. As part of its strategic plan, the Library is exploring how it can better support the research culture at the University. One initiative that has arisen from this strategic focus is our Research Visibility Project, for which I am the coordinator.

Why did you initially decide to join Impactstory?

Scholarly communication and bibliometrics have been of great interest to me ever since I first encountered them as a newly-minted academic librarian. Furthermore, the strategic direction that the Library is taking has made keeping up to date with the latest developments in this area a must for our librarians.

When I came across Impactstory I was struck by how useful and relatively straightforward (even in that early incarnation) it was for multiple altmetrics to be presented in an attractive and easy to understand way. At the time, I had just been discussing with some of our humanities faculty how poorly served they were by traditional citation metrics. I saw immediately in Impactstory one way that this issue could be addressed.

Why did you decide to become an Advisor?

As mentioned above, in the past year or so I have become heavily involved in our scholarly communication efforts. When the call for applications to be an Advisor came out, I saw it as an opportunity to get the inside scoop on one of the tools that I am most enthusiastic about.

What’s your favorite Impactstory feature?

I would have to say that my favourite feature is the ability to add an ORCID iD to the Impactstory profile! More on why that is below.

You’ve been hard at work recently implementing ORCID at HKBU. (I especially like this video tutorial you produced!) How do you envision the library working in the future to support HKBU researchers using ORCID and other scholarly communication technologies?

Academic libraries around the world are re-positioning themselves to ensure that their collections and services remain relevant to their members. The scholarly communication environment is incredibly dynamic, and I think that librarians have an opportunity to provide tremendous value to our institutions by serving as guides to, and organizers of, emerging scholarly communication technologies.

Our ORCID initiative at HKBU is a good example of this. We have focused heavily on communicating the benefits having an ORCID iD and how in the long run this will streamline research workflows and ensure scholars receive the proper credit for their work. Another guiding principle has been to make adoption as painless as possible for our faculty. They will be able to create an ORCID iD, connect it with our system, and automatically populate it with their latest five years’ of research output (painstakingly checked for accuracy by our team), all in just a few minutes.

I believe that as information professionals, librarians are well-positioned to take on such roles. Also, in contrast to some of our more traditional responsibilities, these services bring us into close contact with faculty, raising the visibility of librarians on campus. These new relationships could open doors to further collaborations on campus.

Thanks, Chris!

As a token of our appreciation for Chris’s outreach efforts, we’re sending him an Impactstory travel mug from our Zazzle store.

Chris is just one part of a growing community of Impactstory Advisors. Want to join the ranks of some of the Web’s most cutting-edge researchers and librarians? Apply to be an Advisor today!

Open Science & Altmetrics Monthly Roundup (December 2014)

In this month’s roundup: a university allegedly attempts to hire its way to the top of the rankings, NISO’s altmetrics initiative enters its next phase, and seven other ways December was an interesting month for Open Science and altmetrics. Read on!

An altmetrics-flavored look back at 2014

What were the most popular articles of 2014? let us know with their year-end roundup, which detailed the 100 most shared and discussed scholarly articles of 2014. At the top of the list was the controversial “emotional contagion” study co-authored by Facebook researchers. See more highlights on the full list, and download the full altmetrics data for the study on Figshare.

Did our altmetrics predictions for 2014 come true? Back in February, we wagered some bets on how the field would evolve throughout 2014, and as expected we got some right and some wrong. Probably our biggest win? That more researchers would become empowered to show the world how they’re winning by using altmetrics. Our biggest miss? Sadly, that altmetrics did not become more “open”.

University criticized for alleged attempts to hire its way to the top of rankings

The Daily Cal reports that staff from King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia recently contacted several University of California professors with opportunities to be hired as “distinguished adjunct professors.” Respected researchers are regularly contacted with job opportunities, but this was different, according to the article:

“KAU offered [Jonathan Eisen] $72,000 per year and free business-class airfare and five-star hotel stays for him to visit KAU in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia…In exchange, Eisen was told he would be expected to work on collaborations with KAU local researchers and also update his Thomson Reuters’ highly cited researcher listing to include a KAU affiliation. He would also be expected to occasionally publish some scientific journal articles with the Saudi university’s name attached.”

Eisen and other scientists interviewed suggest that their high citation rates are at the heart of KAU’s interest, as their affiliation with KAU would boost the university’s international rankings. Read more on The Daily Cal.

NISO votes to create standards for altmetrics

NISO approved Phase 2 of the organization’s altmetrics initiative in December, which will include the creation of standards and recommended practices on the following:

Phase 2 of the project will be to develop standards or recommended practices in the prioritized areas of definitions, calculation methodologies, improvement of data quality, and use of persistent identifiers in alternative metrics. As part of each project, relevant use cases and how they apply to different stakeholder groups will be developed.

This should come as no surprise to those who’ve been following NISO-related altmetrics developments. In September, NISO released results from their community survey, which showed more concern with standards and definitions than issues like gaming.

Want to have a voice in altmetrics standards development? Join any of NISO’s four working groups before 1 Feb., 2015. More information can be found on the NISO website.

We’ll be watching future developments with interest, as any standards and recommended practices developed will affect the way we and other altmetrics aggregators collect, display, and archive altmetrics data in Impactstory profiles.

Other altmetrics & open science news

  • ArXiv hits the 1 million paper milestone: Nature News reports that one of the world’s most famous and respected preprint servers, ArXiv, is now home to more than 1 million articles and receives 10 million download requests per month. Incredibly, ArXiv manages to make this treasure-trove of scholarly information freely available to the public at a cost of less than $10 per paper–much less than the reported $50 million per year it takes to operate Science. For an overview of ArXiv’s history, check out Nature News.

  • New altmetrics studies confirm that citations don’t correlate with quality (or do they?), OA publications get more downloads & more: Five studies of interest to the altmetrics community were publicized in December. They included a study that shows a lack of correlation between citations and quality (as measured by expert peer review); another, conflicting study that may hold the “secret sauce” formula for turning citations into indicators of quality; a study that found–yet again–that Open Access publications receive more downloads; the results of one conference’s experiment with peer review, which showed that peer review is “close to random” in terms of what reviewers agree to accept and reject; and a paper on “negative links,” which may have future applications for context-aware altmetrics.

  • Meet Open Science champion and Impactstory Advisor Dr. Lorena Barba: We recently interviewed Lorena to learn more about her lab’s Open Science manifesto, her research in computational methods in aeronautics and biophysics, and George Washington University’s first Massive Open Online Course, “Practical Numerical Methods with Python”. To read more about her work, visit the Impactstory blog.

  • Altmetrics can help measure attention and influence for education-oriented journal articles: PLOS Computational Biology recently shared a thoughtful perspective on an editorial titled, “An Online Bioinformatics Curriculum.” To look at citations to the 2012 paper, you’d think it wasn’t a success–but you’d be wrong. PLOS’s article-level metrics show that the editorial has been viewed over 77,000 times, bookmarked more than 300 times, and has received a great deal of attention on social media. It’s just one more example of ways in which altmetrics can measure attention and influence of scholarship beyond those traditionally valued.

  • Nature takes a lot of heat for its experiment in free-to-access–but not Open Access–journal articles: Nature Publishing Group announced its intent to offer free access to articles in many of its journals over the next year. The plan allows those with subscription access to an article to generate a link that will allow others to read the article for free–but not download or copy the article’s content. Many scientists criticized the move, pointing out the many restrictions that are placed on content shared. We also shared our concerns, particularly with respect to the negative effects the program could have on altmetrics. But many scientists also lauded Nature’s experiment, and shared their appreciation for NPG’s attempt to make content more accessible. To learn more, check out Timo Hannay’s blog and John Wilbank’s thoughts on “Nature’s Shareware Moment.”

  • Impactstory’s “30-Day Impact Challenge” released as an ebook: To download a free copy of our new ebook based on the popular November Impact Challenge, visit our blog. You can also purchase a copy for your Kindle.

Want updates like these delivered to your inbox weekly? Sign up for our open science & altmetrics newsletter! In addition to open science and altmetrics news, you can also get news from us here at Impactstory, the only altmetrics non-profit.

Announcing Impactstory “office hours” for librarians

Over the next two months, we’re experimenting with providing increased support to librarians, many of whom are their on-campus resource for all-things-altmetrics.

If you’re a librarian with questions about Impactstory, altmetrics, or just about anything else related to measuring and demonstrating impact, you can message Stacy on Skype during the following times:

  • 7 pm to 9 pm on Mondays (Mountain time here in the US; better for folks east of the Central European Time zone–India, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand)

  • 9 am to 12 pm on Fridays (Mountain time here in the US; better for folks west of CET–USA, Western & Central Europe)

To confirm when Stacy will be online in your time zone, we recommend checking out

To connect with Stacy, open Skype and go to the Contacts drop-down menu, select “Add contact,” search for Stacy by her name or username (stacy.konkiel), then click the green “Add contact” button. Please include a short note about who you are and why you want to chat when sending the invitation to connect, as it helps keeps the spammers away.

Stacy will be keeping these office hours starting Monday, January 12 through March 20, 2015. Talk to you soon!

What’s our impact? (Dec. 2014)

Back in August, we started sharing our outreach and growth statistics, warts and all. That’s because we’re committed to radical transparency, and had a hunch that our users–who are interested in quantitative measures of impact–would be curious to see the numbers.

After using this format to share our stats for five months, we’ve decided to move away from blogging them in favor of a centralized, easier to read format: a simple Google Spreadsheet, open to all.

Below, we share our numbers in blog format for the final time, and provide a link to the Google Spreadsheet where we’ll share our stats from here on out.

Here are our outreach numbers for December 2014*. traffic

  • Visitors: 3,504 total; 2,189 unique
  • New Users: 195
  • Conversion rate: 8.9% (% of visitors who signed up for a trial account)

Blog stats

  • Unique visitors: 6,911
  • Clickthrough rate: 0.8% (% of people who visited from the blog)
  • Conversion rate: 17.5% (% of visitors to from blog who then signed up for a trial Impactstory account)
  • Percent of new user signups: 5.1%

Twitter stats

  • New followers  262
  • Increase in followers from November 5.3%
  • Mentions 173 (We’re tracking this to answer the question, “How engaged are our followers?”)
  • Tweet reach ~398,800 (We’re tracking this–the number of people who potentially saw a tweet mentioning Impactstory or our blog–to understand our brand awareness)
  • Clickthroughs: 131
  • Conversions: 14

What does it all mean?

We’re seeing a familiar, seasonal dip in traffic for our blog, Twitter, and as the semester winds down and researchers take leave from the lab to celebrate the holidays. However, traffic is up 25% from the same period last year, our Twitter followers more than doubled since late January, and we’ve seen a steady growth in traffic to our blog over the past twelve months.

We’re pleased with our growth to date, and look forward to sharing our future growth here.

Thanks for joining us in this experiment in radical transparency! And Happy New Year!

* These numbers were recorded at 10 am MDT on Dec. 31st, 2014.

Our 2014 predictions for altmetrics: what we nailed and what we missed

Back in February, we wagered some bets about how the altmetrics landscape would evolve throughout 2014. As you might expect, we got some right, and some wrong.

Let’s take a look back at how altmetrics as a field fared over the last year, through the framework of our 2014 predictions.

More complex modelling

“We’ll see more network-awareness (who tweeted or cited your paper? how authoritative are they?), more context mining (is your work cited from methods or discussion sections?), more visualization (show me a picture of all my impacts this month), more digestion (are there three or four dimensions that can represent my “scientific personality?”), more composite indices (maybe high Mendeley plus low Facebook is likely to be cited later, but high on both not so much).”

Visualizations were indeed big this year: we debuted our new Maps feature, which tells you where your work in the world has been viewed, bookmarked, or tweeted about. We also added “New this week” indicators to the Metrics page on your profile.

And both PlumX and added new visualizations, too: the cool-looking “Plum Print” and the Altmetric bar visualization were introduced.

Impactstory also launched a new, network-aware feature that shows you what Twitter users gave you the most exposure when they tweeted your work. And we also debuted your profile’s Fans page, which tells you who’s talking about your work and how often, exactly what they’re saying, and how many followers they have.

And a step forward in context mining has come from the recently launched CRediT taxonomy. The taxonomy allows researchers to describe how co-authors on a paper have contributed–whether by creating the study’s methodology, cleaning and maintaining data, or in any of twelve other ways. The taxonomy will soon be piloted by publishers, funders, and other scholarly communication organizations like ORCID.

As for other instances of network-awareness, context mining, digestion, and composite indices? Most of the progress in these areas came from altmetrics researchers. Here are some highlights:

  • This study on ‘semantometrics’ posits that more effective means of determining impact can be found by looking at the full-text of documents, and by measuring the interdisciplinarity of the papers and the articles they cite.

  • A study on the size of research teams since 1900 found that a larger (and more diverse) number of collaborators generally leads to more impactful work (as measured in citations).

  • This preprint determined that around 9% of tweets about publications come from bots, not humans–which may have big implications for how scholars use and interpret altmetrics.

  • A study showed that papers tagged on F1000 as being “good for teaching” tend to have higher instances of Facebook and Twitter metrics–types of metrics long assumed to relate more to “public” impacts.

  • A study published in JASIST (green OA version here) found that mentions of articles on scholarly blogs correlate to later citations.

Growing interest from administrators and funders

“So in 2014, we’ll see several grant, hiring, and T&P guidelines suggest applicants include altmetrics when relevant.”

Several high-profile announcements from funding agencies confirmed that altmetrics was a hot topic in 2014. In June, the Autism Speaks charity announced that they’d begun using PlumX to track the scholarly and social impacts of the studies they fund. And in December, the Wellcome Trust published an article describing how they use altmetrics in a similar manner.

Are funders and institutions explicitly suggesting that researchers include altmetrics in their applications, when relevant? Not as often as we had hoped. But a positive step in this direction has been from the NIH, which released a new biosketch format that asks applicants to list their most important publications or non-publication research outputs. It also prompts scientists to articulate why they consider those outputs to be important.

The NIH has said that by moving to this new biosketch format, it “will help reviewers evaluate you not by where you’ve published or how many times, but instead by what you’ve accomplished.” We applaud this move, and hope that other funders adopt similar policies in 2015.

Empowered scientists

“As scientists use tools like Impactstory to gather, analyze, and share their own stories, comprehensive metrics become a way for them to articulate more textured, honest narratives of impact in decisive, authoritative terms. Altmetrics will give scientists growing opportunities to show they’re more than their h-indices.”

We’re happy to report that this prediction came true. This year, we’ve heard from more scientists and librarians than ever before, all of whom have used altmetrics data in their tenure dossiers, grant applications and reports, and in annual reviews. And in one-on-one conversations, early career researchers are telling us how important altmetrics are for showcasing the impacts of their research when applying for jobs.

We expect that as more scientists become familiar with altmetrics in the coming year, we’ll see even more empowered scientists using their altmetrics to advance their careers.


“Since metrics are qualitatively more valuable when we verify, share, remix, and build on them, we see continued progress toward making both  traditional and novel metrics more open. But closedness still offers quick monetization, and so we’ll see continued tension here.”

This is one area where we weren’t exactly wrong, but we weren’t 100% correct, either. Everything stayed more or less the same with regard to openness in 2014: Impactstory continued to make our data available via open API, as did

We hope that our prediction will come true in 2015, as the increased drive towards open science and open access puts pressure on those metrics providers that haven’t yet “opened up.”

Acquisitions by the old guard

“In 2014 we’ll likely see more high-profile altmetrics acquisitions, as established megacorps attempt to hedge their bets against industry-destabilizing change.”

2014 didn’t see any acquisitions per se, but publishing behemoth Elsevier made three announcements that hint that the company may be positioning itself for such acquisitions soon: a call for altmetrics research proposals, the hiring of prominent bibliometrician (and co-author of the Altmetrics Manifesto) Paul Groth to be the Disruptive Technology Director of Elsevier Labs, and the launch of  Axon, the company’s invitation-only startup network.

Where do you think altmetrics will go in 2015? Leave your predictions in the comments below.

What’s our impact? (November 2014)

As a platform for users interested in data, we want to share some stats about our successes (and challenges) in spreading the word about Impactstory.

Here are our outreach numbers for November 2014. traffic

  • Visitors: 4,361 total; 2,754 unique
  • New Users: 247
  • Conversion rate: 8.9% (% of visitors who signed up for a trial account)

Blog stats

  • Unique visitors: 9,443 (31% growth from October)
  • Clickthrough rate: 0.75% (% of people who visited from the blog)
  • Conversion rate: 19.7% (% of visitors to from blog who went on to sign up for a trial Impactstory account)
  • Percent of new user signups: 5.7%

Twitter stats

  • New followers 318 in November
  • Increase in followers from October 6.7%
  • Mentions 380 (We’re tracking this to answer the question, “How engaged are our followers?”)
  • Tweet reach 840,174 (We’re tracking this–the number of people who potentially saw a tweet mentioning Impactstory or our blog–to understand our brand awareness)
  • Clickthroughs: 180
  • Conversions: 5

What does it all mean? Overall traffic to the site was down, consistent with patterns of use we’ve seen in years past. (An end-of-the-semester dip in traffic is common for academic sites.) Conversion rates on went slightly down from October. We’re confident that new landing pages and general homepage changes we make in the coming months will improve conversion rates.

Blog: November saw an increase in unique visitors (another month of double-digit growth!), but what does that mean for our organization? Conversion rates actually went down from October, as did the blog’s share of new user signups for Impactstory. This points to a need to share more Impactstory-related content on the blog, and experiment with unobtrusive sidebars, slide-ins, and other ways that can point people to our main website.

That said, blogging doesn’t always result in direct signups, nor is it meant to. The primary aim of blogging is to educate people about open science and altmetrics (as a non-profit, we’re big on advocacy). And it helps familiarize people with our organization, too, which can result in indirect signups (i.e., readers might come back later and sign up for Impactstory).

Twitter: Our Twitter followers and mentions increased from October by about 1.5% and 25%, respectively. We’ll aim to continue that growth throughout December. (After all, we’re active on Twitter for the same reason we blog–as a form of outreach and advocacy.) We also passed an exciting benchmark: 5,000 Twitter followers!

We’ll continue to blog our progress, while also thinking on ways to share this data in a more automated fashion. If you have questions or comments, we welcome them in the comments below.

Updated 12/31/2014 to fix error in reporting conversion rates of visitors from blog.

Impactstory Advisor of the Month: Lorena Barba (December 2014)

A photograph of Impactstory Advisor Lorena Barba2014’s final Impactstory Advisor of the month is Lorena Barba. Lorena is an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the George Washington University in Washington DC, and an advocate for open source, open science, and open education initiatives.

We recently interviewed Lorena to learn more about her lab’s Open Science manifesto, her research in computational methods in aeronautics and biophysics, and George Washington University’s first Massive Open Online Course, “Practical Numerical Methods with Python” (aka “Numerical MOOC”).

Tell us a bit about your research.

I have a PhD in Aeronautics from Caltech and I specialized in computational fluid dynamics. From that launching pad, I have veered dangerously into applied mathematics (working on what we call fast algorithms), supercomputing (which gets you into really techy stuff like cache-aware and memory-avoiding computations, high-throughput and many-core computing), and various application cases for computer simulation.

Fluid dynamics and aerodynamics are mature fields and it’s hard to make new contributions that have impact. So I look for new problems where we can use our skills as computational scientists to advance a field. That’s how we got into biophysics: there are models that apply to interactions of proteins that use electrostatic theory and can be solved computationally with methods similar to ones used in aeronautics, believe it or not.

We have been developing models and software to compute electrostatic interactions between bio-molecules, first, and between bio-molecules and nano-surfaces, more recently. Our goal is to contribute simulation power for aiding in the design of efficient biosensors. And going back to my original passion, aerodynamics, we found an area where there is still much to be discovered: the aerodynamics of flying and gliding animals (like flying snakes).

Why did you initially decide to join Impactstory?

For a long time, I’ve been thinking that science and scientists need to take control of their communication channels and use the web deliberately to convey and increase our impact. I have been sharing the research and educational products of my group online for years and we have a consistent policy with regards to publication that includes, for example, always uploading a preprint to the arXiv repository at the time of submitting a paper for publication. If a journal does not have an arXiv-friendly policy, we don’t submit there and look for another appropriate journal. We started uploading data sets, figures, posters and other research objects to the figshare repository since its beginning, and I’m also a figshare advisor.

Impactstory became part of my communications and impact arsenal immediately, because it aggregates links, views and mentions of our products. And with the latest profile changes, it also offers an elegant online presence.

Why did you decide to become an Advisor?

So many of my colleagues are apathetic to the dire control they put in the hands of for-profit publishers, and simply accept the status quo. I want to be an agent of change in regards to how we measure and communicate the importance of what we do. Part of it is simply being willing to do it yourself, and show by example how these new tools can work for us.

What’s your favorite Impactstory feature?

The automatic aggregation of research objects using my various online IDs, like ORCID, Google Scholar and GitHub. The map is pretty cool, too!

You’ve done a lot to “open up” education in computational methods to the public, in particular via your Numerical MOOC and Youtube video lectures. What have been your biggest successes and challenges in getting these courses online and accessible to all?

In my opinion, the biggest success is doing these things at the grassroots level, with hardly any funding (I had some seed funding for #numericalmooc, but none of the previous efforts had any) or institutional involvement. When I think of how the university, in each case, has been involved in my open education efforts, the most appropriate way to characterize it is that they have let me to do what I wanted to do, staying out of the way. There have not been technologists or instructional designers or any of that involved; I just did it all myself.

The biggest challenge? Resources, I guess—time and money. My scarcest resource is time, and when I work to create open educational resources, I’m stealing time away from research. This gets me disapproving looks, thoughts and comments from my peers. Why am I spending time in open education? “This won’t get you promoted.” SIGH. As for money, I raised some funds for #numericalmooc, but it’s not a lot: merely to cover the course platform and the salary of my teaching assistants. Funding efforts in open education—as an independent educator, rather than a Silicon Valley start-up—is really tough.

Thanks, Lorena!

As a token of our appreciation for Lorena’s outreach efforts, we’re sending her an Impactstory item of her choice from our Zazzle store.

Lorena is just one part of a growing community of Impactstory Advisors. Want to join the ranks of some of the Web’s most cutting-edge researchers and librarians? Apply to be an Advisor today!

Open Science & Altmetrics Monthly Roundup (November 2014)

In this month’s roundup: OpenCon 2014, “the crappy Gabor paper” snafu, sexier scientific graphics and 7 other ways November was a big month for Open Science and altmetrics. Read on!

“Generation Open” organizes itself at OpenCon 2014

An international group of students and early career researchers met at the first annual OpenCon meeting in Washington DC. While we couldn’t attend in person, we followed the conference via Twitter and livestream, as did many others from around the world. It was excellent.

Among the participants were Patrick Brown (PLOS), Victoria Stodden (Stanford), Erin McKiernan (Wilfrid Laurier University), and Pete Binfield (PeerJ), all of whom shared two important messages with the attendees: 1) even as a junior scientist, you can make choices that support open access, but 2) don’t feel bad if you’re not yet an OA revolutionary–it’s the responsibility of more senior scientists to help pave the way and align your career incentives with the OA movement’s aims.

You can read a great summary of OpenCon on the Absolutely Maybe blog, and watch OpenCon sessions for yourself on YouTube.

“The crappy Gabor paper” citation snafu

A recently published journal article gained some unwanted attention in November thanks to a copyediting error: the authors’ note-to-self to cite “the crappy Gabor paper” was left in the version of the article that made it to press, which someone found and shared on Twitter.

Because of the increased social media attention the article received, its altmetrics shot through the roof, causing cynics to point out that altmetrics must be flawed because they’re measuring the attention a paper received not for its quality but instead for a silly citation mistake.

We have a different perspective. Altmetrics aggregators like are useful precisely because they can capture and share data about this silly mistake. After all, we expose the underlying, qualitative data that shows exactly what people are saying when they mention a paper:

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That exposure is crucial to allowing viewers to better understand why a paper’s been mentioned. Compare that to how traditional citation indices tend to compile citation numbers of a paper: simple numbers, zero context.

Towards sustainable software at WSSSPE2

The 2nd Workshop on Sustainable Software for Science: Practice and Experiences (WSSSPE2) met in New Orleans to discuss what barriers exist to the long-term sustainability of code. Turns out, there are many, and they’re mostly rooted in a lack of proper incentives for software creators.

Among the many interesting papers presented at the meeting were:

Links to all conference papers and detailed notes from the meeting can be found on the WSSSPE2 website.

Other altmetrics & open science news

  • Are you a science blogger? Paige needs you! Paige Brown Jarreau (also known as Twitter’s @fromthelabbench) is studying science blogging practices for her PhD research. Respond to her “Survey for Science Bloggers” here.

  • Major UK research funder describes how they use altmetrics to gauge public engagement for the studies they fund: the Wellcome Trust recently published an article in PLOS Biology that outlines how the group uses altmetrics to learn about the societal impacts of the work they support. They also suggest that altmetrics may play an important role in research evaluation in the years to come. Read the full article here.

  • Meet Impactstory’s Advisor of the Month, Open Access superadvocate Keita Bando:  We chatted with Keita about his work founding MyOpenArchive, a precursor to Figshare. Keita also shared his perspective on librarians’ role in helping scientists navigate the often-complicated options they have for practicing Open Science, and gave us a look at his app that makes it much easier for researchers to sync their Mendeley and ORCID profiles. Read the full interview here on the Impactstory blog.

  • How a rip-off website is polluting Google Scholar profiles with spam citations: the Retraction Watch blog reports that a website created to illegally resell content to Chinese academics is inadvertently adding fake publications to some scientists’ Google Scholar profiles. Individual scholars can remove spam citations from their profiles themselves. Read more on Retraction Watch.

  • You can now batch upload publications to your ORCID profile: researcher identification service ORCID is great at finding your publications and other scholarly outputs automatically, but sometimes you need to add content manually. Luckily, ORCID just added a BibTeX import option, meaning you can upload many documents at once using a file that’s easily exported from Mendeley, ADS, and many other reference management applications.

  • Standards for scientific graphics from 1914 could make modern Open Science better: Jure Triglav recaps some important reports from the early 1900’s that have largely been forgotten to date. In them, some of science’s brightest minds set rules for creating scientific graphics, including no-brainers like, “Display the data alongside the graph”–which for some reason we don’t regularly practice today. Triglav also offers a proof-of-concept for how open data can be used to create better, more informative graphics in the modern era. Read the full article here.

  • Older articles more likely to be cited, now that they’re increasingly online: Google Scholar reports that there’s been a 28% growth in citations to older articles between 1990 and 2013 due to their increased availability online. It’s a great argument for “opening up” your older scholarship, isn’t it?

What was your favorite open science or altmetrics happening from November?

Ours was probably the Impactstory November Impact Challenge, but we couldn’t fit it into this roundup! (See what we did there?) Share your favorite news in the comments below.