UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for March, 2012

Guest Post: Open Access to Science for Everyone

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 30 March 2012

Yesterday I announced a series of guest blog posts on the theme of openness. I’m pleased to launch this series with a post by Ross Mounce, a PhD Candidate at the University of Bath. In the post Ross outlines his views on the importance of open access for not just the research community but for everyone.

Before the internet, there were non-trivial costs associated with disseminating paper-based research publications – each and every page of every article of every journal cost the publisher money to produce. Every single paper copy of those journals needed to be physically sent by post to all institutions, libraries and individuals that wanted those journals. This was both a costly and complex process, so it was sensibly outsourced to full-time professional publishers to deal with, some of whom were commercial for-profit enterprises – at first this didn’t cause any problems.

But now the internet allows unlimited copies of research publications to be created for zero cost and these can be advertised and disseminated at relatively insignificant costs – just the cost of bandwidth, keeping servers up and running, maintaining a user-friendly website that search engines can crawl, and providing an RSS feed to notify interested parties of new journal articles. Indeed, when Tim Berners-Lee created the Web in 1991, it was with the aim of better facilitating scientific communication and the dissemination of scientific research.

Note that for the sake of clarity we’ll ignore the role of manuscript-submission, organising peer-review, and the peer review process itself here – I contend these are only of minor administrative cost. Peer-review is provided for free by other academics and manuscript-submission is a largely automated process often requiring little editorial input. Only organising peer review is an administrative task that might conceivably have a significant and real time cost. Furthermore these processes need not necessarily be performed by the same organisation that acts to distribute the publications (decoupled scholarly publication), a nice idea as popularised by Jason Priem.

Yet, the models of payment for publication of, and distribution of research works are still largely centred on paying-for-access, rather than paying-to-publish. In the digital age this is inefficient and illogical. Why try and charge millions of separate customers (institutions, libraries, academics, and other interested persons) for a resource – a complex undertaking to organise in itself, when you can simply ask for a sustainably priced one-off charge to the funder/authors of the content to be published. The latter author-pays model is clearly the simpler, easier to implement option. Yet, I contend that the reader-pays model is currently dominant, especially with commercial for-profit publishers because it can generate excessive profits through its opaqueness and inefficiency (relative to the ultimate goal of providing free, Open Access to scientific knowledge for everyone).

The interests of shareholders, and board members of for-profit publishing companies are now hugely conflicting with that of research funders, institutions and academics. By definition, the primary goal of a for-profit publishing company is profit. In that respect, some academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist, with their unscrupulous profiteering as gatekeepers denying access to scientific knowledge. Whereas the goal of STM researchers & funders is surely for knowledge to be created and shared with the world. To myself and thousands of other academics it is clear without further explanation that these two goals cannot be simultaneously be maximised. One strategy works to maximise profit by proactively denying access to vital materials, and punishing those caught sharing materials, whilst the other works to maximise dissemination potential, so that all (who have access to a computer – unfortunately not everyone has access to one of these, but this problem is out of scope) can if they wish read the material, whilst forfeiting maximum profit-potential.

Of course, if research is entirely privately funded, it need not be openly-published – one cannot force private companies to disclose all research and development they do (although efforts by certain privates to share to cure malaria and other humanitarian problems are certainly very welcome!). But as I understand it, the majority of scientific research is publicly-funded and thus there is a clear moral duty to share results with everyone e.g. taxpayers. To paraphrase James Harvey: if you want to keep your research private, fund it yourself. That’s the privilege of private funding.

The tension between librarians (who have to negotiate to buy subscription-access to journals) and academics united on one side, and for-profit publishing companies on the other is particularly noticeable at the moment, hence The Economist’s labelling of this as a potential Academic Spring, analogous to the recent revolutions overthrowing malevolent incumbent powers – the Arab Spring.  Note that a cartoon representation of this debate can be seen on YouTube and is embedded below.

Indeed it is not just academics who benefit from access to scientific literature – as is being documented by a new initiative called Who Needs Access? There are a huge number and variety of people that would benefit from legally unrestricted, free, Open Access to scientific publications e.g. patients, translators, artists, journalists, teachers and retired academics. When one hits a paywall asking for 51USD for just 24 hours access to a single article on palliative care – it’s no wonder people are often put-off reading scientific literature. Thus everyone with even the slightest bit of curiosity about scientific research would stand to benefit from Open Access to scholarly publications, as achieved by the author-pays model.

So where would all these publications go, if not on servers owned and controlled by for-profit publishers? The ideal, natural home as Björn Brembs argues are libraries and university presses as institutional repositories for research publications, code and data. Currently IRs are used as Green OA archives which achieve only limited success in providing free full-text access. But as Networked Repositories for Digital Open Access Publications perhaps they might enable Open Access for all, as well as reducing the overall cost of publishing research.

In areas of science that have already shifted to this model e.g. some of Physics and related subjects with ArXiv (which is arguably analogous to a subject-specific Cornell University IR); Science is distributed pre-review with remarkable ease and cost effectiveness at <$7 per article submitted.

Some final thoughts:

We lose so many legal freedoms with closed access publishing, and its tendency to assign all copyright to publishers (not just mere access, but also text-mining rights, and the right to re-use information in even vaguely commercial contexts) that we cannot and should not allow this continue any longer, as it is causing irreparable damage to the future usability of scientific literature.

Ross Mounce, a PhD Candidate at the University of Bath is an active member of the Open Science community, pushing for beneficial reforms in scholarly publishing. Having had trouble in the past getting research data from publications, he is very proactive in blogging and giving talks on how scientific publishing can improve utility and dissemination by making greater and better use of digital technologies.

Contact details

Twitter: @rmounce

Posted in Guest-post, openness | 10 Comments »

Announcement of a Series of Openness Guest Blog Posts

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 March 2012

The latest issue of JISC Inform, which was published yesterday, features several articles on the theme of openness.

In an article entitled “Open Doors” several JISC programme managers describes aspects of openness of importance to them and the programmes they manage. Rachel Bruce, the Innovation Director of Digital Infrastructure Team, provides an overview of “How your digital infrastructure supports open learning and research” which introduces the following contributions:

  • Amber Thomas on ‘Open resources’
  • Neil Jacobs on ‘Open communication’
  • Simon Hodson on ‘Open research data’
  • Andy McGregor on ‘Open developer communities’
  • Ben Showers on ‘Open standards’

In addition an article on “Making the most of the open web” provides advice from “three experts [who] discuss how to use the social web to increase traffic to your work and make it more discoverable“. I have contributed a piece on blogging as an open practices, based on the approaches taken in publishing this blog. In addition Grace Owen, JISC Communications Coordinator, provides a video summary on “Running a successful hybrid event” and Steph Gray, director of Helpful Technology, gives a podcast providing advice for “colleges and universities embarking on their first use of digital communication tools such as Twitter and Facebook through to those who are well established and looking for the next new tech trend“.

Finally Jennifer Jones (@jennifermjones) describes a day in the life of an open researcher.

The importance of openness as a means of achieving institutional business objectives in teaching and learning, research and related areas on work are frequently addressed in this blog. I’m therefore pleased to announce the launch of a series of guest blog posts which will be published on this blog tomorrow and next week which will address a range of aspects related to openness, including open research, open education resources, open scholarly practices and open licences.

Myself and the guest bloggers hope that these posts will encourage a discussion on the ways on which a variety of open practices can enhance the effectiveness and impact of activities which take place across the higher and further education sector.

The following guest posts were published in this series from 30 March – 7 April 2012:

Posted in openness | 8 Comments »

Bosch’s Guide to the Internet (and Implications for #librarians)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 27 March 2012

Warnings of the Perils We Face

On Saturday, while having a few day’s holiday in Madrid, I came across a guide to the Internet The guide will be familiar to many, but I hadn’t realised that it was to be found in the Prado Museum in Madrid. The strange thing about the guide was that it was created between 1490 and 1510. The guide is shown below and in case you are unfamiliar with the name, as I was, it is known as The Garden of Earthly Delights by the Flemish painter Hieronymus Bosch.

Image from Wikipedia

When I saw the painting (a triptych) I was reminded of the poster entitled The Web Is Agreement by Paul Downey which I highlighted in post entitled Tower of WS-Babel in January 2008.

Image from Available under a Creative Commons licence.

Paul’s poster illustrated the Web as a place containing both good and evil, with the dark places representing both inappropriate content and inaccessible places which could not easily be visited due to a failure to abide by the Web’s commandments.

The Role of The Librarian

Bosch’s painting is described in Wikipedia as providing “a didactic warning on the perils of life’s temptations“. Whilst the title of Borsch’s painting focusses on earthly perils, we now know there are perils to be faced in the online environment. But what is the role of librarians in a world in which we need to acknowledge that there are perils to be faced online?

In the early days of the Web there was a feeling that the role of librarians was to identify the safe areas of the Web and to provide maps of such areas. Initially librarians who had HTML authoring expertise would provide such links and later services such as the RDN, which later was renamed Intute, provide links to trusted sources.

The role of the librarian was, it seems, to provide guides to the safe areas of the Web; areas in which, perhaps, unicorns would safely graze with no beasties to be found.

But today we know that such patronising approaches are no longer applicable, especially in a higher education context. Instead the role of the librarian continues to provide maps of the online environment, but in addition to provide advice if the visitor chooses to explore off the beaten path. The librarian is also well-positioned to warn of the dangers in unquestioning trust in maps provided by others – Karen Blakeman, for example,frequently highlights the risks in treating Google as an infallible guide, views which have been echoed by Phil Bradley. It should also be noted that the warnings depicted in The Web is Agreement poster also highlight terrain which it might be difficult to access, special browser technologies, such as Flash support, may be needed – but again the emphasis is on providing education on dangers rather than imposing barriers to travel.

What of the Marketing Department?

If the role of the librarian is a be a supportive guide, which is the role of the marketing department?

Traditionally we probably feel that our institution’s marketing department tends to provide a positive gloss on our institution: the sky is cloudless; the sun is shining and the students are attractive. The marketing department at Borsch’s institution would , no doubt, pick on the unicorns as a positive image, and highlight statistics on unicorn satisfaction levels and future employability.

A post by Karin Joly entitled Not your usual #highered Admissions Video: Beer, Blood and Applications? published on the blog suggested an alternative way of making your institution appealing to potential students. This time, as can be seen on the YouTube video, rather than the cliché of a happy student environment, we had a unearthly guide who magical powers sadly came to an unfortunate end.

Hmm, I wonder if Bosch’s painting can inspire a new generation of marketing videos? After all there have been over 2 million views on YouTube, which may provide audience figures which marketing people would sell their soul give their right arm for!

Posted in General | 2 Comments »

Enhancing Access to Researchers’ Papers: How Librarians and Use of Social Media Can Help

Posted by Brian Kelly on 26 March 2012

Tomorrow I’m giving a talk on “Enhancing Access to Researchers’ Papers: How Librarians and Use of Social Media Can Help” at a meeting of subject librarians at the University of Bath.

The talk is based on work which I’ve recently described on this blog including the post on How Researchers Can Use Inbound Linking Strategies to Enhance Access to Their Papers.

The talk will also address ideas described in a follow-up post on Profiling Staff and Researcher Use of Cloud Services Across Russell Group Universities in which I suggested that, in addition, to encouraging researchers to make their researcher publications available on their institutional repository, they should also be providing metadata and links to the papers from popular third party services, such as LinkedIn,, Microsoft Academic Search and Google Scholar Citations, which are provided particularly for use by researchers and academic staff.

The talk will highlight work in progress in making use of SEO analysis talks, including and, in order to investigate what the highest SEO-ranking sites which link to the University’ of Bath’s Opus repository are. The initial findings from suggests that,, and are the web sites with the highest SEO rankings which have links to the Opus repository. These four web sites all have an SEO Domain Authority score of 100, where this score “is a 100 point predicative score of the domain’s ranking potential in the search engines“.

The talk then goes on to suggest, as explaining in a post on My Trusted Social Librarian, that in addition to encouraging researchers to use such service, librarians may also help to support researchers by being a social librarians and favouriting (or liking or +1ng) useful resources since such actions can be seen in services such as Google,

The slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

I would welcome feedback.

Posted in library2.0, search | 3 Comments »

Institutional Use of Social Media in China

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 March 2012

Reviewing Recent Surveys of Institutional Use of Social Media

A number of recent posts have described institutional use of social media by UK universities, including surveys of use of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and links to social media services. These surveys were followed by a post on Institutional Use of Social Media In Europe. Such evidence-gathering can be helpful in identifying patterns of usage and informing policy-making.

But what about institutional use of social media by UK universities hosted in other countries?

Following my post on Links to Social Media Sites on Russell Group University Home Pages André Shappo, who teaches IT Internationalisation at Loughborough University and who has written about his interests in Chinese social networking services on his blog, sent me an email in which he informed me that:

There are also a small number of UK universities using China’s Sina Wēibó social media. So far I have found 20 UK universities using Sina Wēibó, two of which are Russell Group universities. My list is at

André went on to add that:

Much more impressive is the number of western companies/brands using Sina Wēibó. So far I have found over 300 of them. My list is at There are also other regional social media systems that could be used. It seems to me that UK universities are, in general, slow to take advantage of regional social media.

Are the twenty UK universities which André has identified leading the way? Are they established practices which could be adopted by others? A brief survey is described below which aims to provide evidence of the ways in which UK universities are using the Weibo social networking service. Note that as described in Wikipedia:

Sina Weibo (Chinese: 新浪微博; pinyin: Xīnlàng Wēibó; literally “Sina Microblog”) is a Chinese microblogging (weibo) website. Akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook, it is one of the most popular sites in China, in use by well over 30% of Internet users, with a similar market penetration that Twitter has established in the USA. It was launched by SINA Corporation on 14 August 2009 and has more than 250 million registered users as of October 2011.

The Survey

The survey was carried out on Wednesday 29 February 2012. The findings are given in the following table, which includes links to the institutional entry on the Weibo service. Note that the survey is based on the twenty verified UK University accounts mentioned in André Shappo ‘s list. André has informed that there this is at least one additional institutional account, but this has not yet been verified.

Ref. No. Institution Sina Page Nos. of Fans
 1 Birmingham City University  1,603
 2 Coventry University  2,858
 3 Kingston University London 13,836
 4 Lancaster University   3,190
 5 Leeds Metropolitan University   1,330
 6 London Metropolitan University   1,455
 7 Northumbria University   2,605
 8 Sheffield Hallam University     800
 9 University of Bristol   4,612
10 University of Derby     315
11 University of Essex   4,408
12 University of Huddersfield 30,340
13 University of Leicester   3,648
14 University of Manchester Business School   3,180
15 University of Northampton   1,486
16 University of Sheffield   3,312
17 University of Sunderland   2,941
18 University of Ulster   1,827
19 University of Wales, Newport     829
20 University of Westminster   4,919
TOTAL 89,494


We can see that nineteen of the twenty organisations have a branded URL for their presence on the Weibo service. However it was interesting to note that whilst some institutions make use of the institutional name (coventryuniversityleedsmetropolitan and universityofessex) others provide a Chinese context (derbychinahudchina and westminsterchina).

The University of Huddersfield has the largest number of followers by a significant amount, with over twice as many followers as the next largest (Kingston University).

The University of Huddersfield’s site is illustrated. Since the site was viewed using the Chrome browser it was possible to use Google’s translate feature to read some of the posts. It was interesting to spot one post which illustrated how the University is making use of the service:

Revisiting Andre Shappo’s suggestion that:

It seems to me that UK universities are, in general, slow to take advantage of regional social media.

it does seem to me that, in light of changes to UK University funding models, we will see a greater emphasis on ways of marketing to and engaging with potential students from overseas. Clearly use of social media should provide a more cost-effective mechanisms for such engagement than physically transporting people and publications to countries such as China. However in order to maximise the benefits to the UK higher educational institutional as a whole we should be looking to identify and share best practices across the sector. This initial survey aims to provide an initial summary of use of Weibo by the early institutional adopters.

Paradata: The data published in the table was collected on Wednesday 29 February 2012.

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Evidence, Social Networking | 5 Comments »

Is Web Interoperable Being Led By Global Social Media Services?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 March 2012

The use of social media at conferences in the higher education sector now seems to be increasingly accepted. Many conferences, especially those with a technology focus, will now make use of Twitter with an event hashtag being adopted in order to make it easy to find relevant discussions and, particularly at larger event, perhaps even a dedicated Twitter account being used to support the event (providing administrative information, for example) or summaries of the  talks being provided by an official ‘event amplifier’.

In addition to Twitter other social media services which may be used might include Flickr, Facebook and LinkedIn, as can be seen from the list of social media used at the recent VALA 2012 conference.

I’ve an interest in the talks given at the VALA 2012 conference partly, as I have mentioned recently, because the UKOLN Director, Liz Lyon, gave a keynote talk on “The informatics transform : re-engineering libraries for the Data Decade” at the conference. But in addition when I viewed the conference tweets I noticed there was a lot of interest in the talk on “Libraries & the Post-PC era” given by Jason Griffey.

The abstract for the talk described how:

Most people on the Internet are not using what we would traditionally think of as a computer. The fastest selling non-phone personal electronics device in the world is something that just a few years ago was available only in science fiction. New wireless standards promise to give us Ethernet-like speeds, anywhere we happen to be. The rise of the mobile phone and tablet signals the move into the Post-PC era. How do libraries respond to this future? What will the next 3, 5, and 10 years look like for mobility and information?

I was interested in the presentational style which several people commented on via the Twitter event hashtag and Jason has written a post in which he described “How I Presented at VALA2012“. However  it was the content of the talk which is of particular interest to me – and, I hope, others who have an interest in views on the implications of a post-PC scholarly environment.

The conference organisers made a video recording of this talk and other plenary talks given at the conference.  In light of the emphasis given to use of social media at the conference I expected that I would be able to embed the video recording elsewhere including, ideally, on this blog.  But it seems that this is not possible, so I have had to include a screenshot of the video and, if you wish to view it you will have to leave this page.

It would also be useful to be able to embed the slides used by the plenary speakers. This is normally achieved by uploading slides to slide sharing services such as Slideshare – the service which I find most useful as slides hosted on Slideshare can be embedded in posts published on the platform which I use for this blog.

However it seems that a conference Slideshare account has not been used and, on 16 February when I initially wrote this post, I found only two embeddable slideshows may have been uploaded by individual speakers: Mining the treasures of Trove by Tim Sherratt and Co-design an ILMS for the Future by Zena Howard. In order to illustrate the benefits of embedding rather than linking I have embedded the Mining the treasures of Trove slides at the bottom of this post.

On 19 March 2012, however, there are now 8 slideshows hosted on Slideshare with the #vala2012 tag. These slides has been uploaded by haikugirl,  ewallis, peterneish (2 slideshows), sirexkat, wragge and zaana (2 slideshows).

It does seem that services which provide embeddable content tend to be the global social media services, with traditional institutional web sites and content management systems not seeming to provide such functionality.  Which makes me wonder: is Web interoperable being led by the global social media services?

It seems to me ironic that for example, as happened at a recent UCISA event on “Using social media to communicate“,  whilst the UCISA web site simply provides links to slides held elsewhere, the Lanyrd page for the event provides embedded slides and videos hosted on Slideshare and Vimeo, as well as providing connections for those who attended the event.

Or, to ask a question for those who provide institutional web services, how could the slides on Mining the treasures of trove shown below be embedded if they were hosted on an institutional web site rather than on a social media service such as Slideshare?

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Curating #KEDAI Tweets Using Storify

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 March 2012

Digital Author Identifier Summit

A Digital Author Identifier Summit, organised by Knowledge Exchange, took place in London on 12-13 March 2012. As described on the Knowledge Exchange web site:

Knowledge Exchange organised a summit and brought together various national and international organisations working on Digital Author Identifiers. This summit took place on 13 and 14 March 2012 in London.

The web site went on to describe how:

The objectives were:

  • to share knowledge and experience and to exchange views on desired developments
  • to identify priority issues for technology, service and policy development
  • to explore and stimulate interoperability and common approaches
  • to inform and support future planning – explore the role Knowledge Exchange (KE) can play

I did not attend the event but some of my colleagues were present. In addition a number of people I follow on Twitter were also at the event and participated in the discussions and provided summaries of the talks given by the invited speakers and the conclusions of the breakout sessions.  I therefore became aware of the event via my Twitter stream and soon discovered that the event hashtag was #KEDAI

Curating Tweets from the Digital Author Identifier Summit

In light of UKOLN’s involvement in a variety of work associated with digital identifiers, having spotted the quality of the reporting of the workshop on Twitter, I decided that it would be useful not only to myself and UKOLN colleagues but also the wider research community if I were to keep a record of the significant tweets, or ‘curate’ the tweets to use a term which currently seems fashionable.

I used Storify to keep a record of the #KEDIA tweets and a screenshot of the first six tweets is illustrated.

It was interesting to note that the top aim of the event was:

to share knowledge and experience and to exchange views on desired developments

Nobody said that the sharing had to be restricted to those who physically attended the meeting, so I’m pleased to be able to amplify the notes provided by several attendees at the event, including those shown in the photograph (taken from the Knowledge Exchange Web site).

It should be noted that the tweets hosted on Storify can be embedded on other web sites using an embedded script tag. This requires use of embedding technologies which are not permitted on However I have just noticed that there is an option to publish a Storify story directly on a blog. Unfortunately this did not work, so I have captured the first set of tweets as an image in order to illustrate what you will see if you visit the Storify page.

Reflecting on the Value of Tweeting at the Event

From looking at the tweets we can see evidence of the success of the two-day workshop, with @BasCordewener commenting:

#kedai meeting was a very good one. Vibrant discussions, relevant recommendations, increased knowledge! Led by @atreloar, inspiring chair.

and @atreloa modestly responding:

@BasCordewener You are too kind. I was only part of a team that worked very well to deliver an excellent event #kedai

The value of the tweets was acknowledged by two remote participants with @williamjnixon showing his appreciation for hearing about the event on Twitter

Diping in and out of the non-Indonesian Knowledge Exchange Digital Author Identifiers Workshop #kedai, thanks to @atreloar for heads-up

and @mopennock showing her appreciation to the two people who tweeted about the event initially:

Thanks to @bindonlane & @atreloar for the #kedai tweets, sounds like a fascinating event.

Emerging Best Practices

As described in a post on Resources from Andrew Treloar’s Seminar on Data Management on 1 April 2011 Andrew Treloar (@atreloar) gave a seminar at UKOLN on “Data Management: International Challenges, National Infrastructure and Institutional Responses – an Australian Perspective on Data Management”. As part of our work in maximising impact of such seminars we provided a live video stream of the seminar, with a video recording (taken on a smartphone) subsequently being published.

In the pub later that evening Andrew, my colleague Paul Walk and myself discussed ways in which events, ranging from a  seminar attracting a handful of people to a larger workshop lasting a couple of days, might be ‘amplified’, even if there is no budget available for commissioning professional AV services.  It seems that such approaches were embraced at the workshop earlier this week, based on a handful of people tweeting at the event and the tweets subsequently being curated and publicised to a wider audience. How might we summarise the emerging best practices for organisers of events who wish to maximise engagement opportunities from a wider audience?

About to start moderating/presenting at/taking part in Knowledge Exchange Digital Author Identifier workshop in London #KEDAI

He then went on to point out possible clashes with other uses of the tag:

By the way, apologies to those of you seeing a hashtag collision for #KEDAI. If it’s in Indonesian it probably doesn’t relate to the w’shop

  • Encourage participants to tweet in order to obtain a critical mass (bearing in mind that being a solo person tweeting about an event can be difficult) as illustrated by @atreloar:

Will try and shame others into tweeting so you get more than just my take on it #keda

  • Provide a concluding tweet which helps others (including a third party who may be curating the tweets) to identify when an event is over (although, as in this case, there may be subsequent tweets this may not always happen).  In this example, @atreloar provided a conclusion in echoing the comments made by the final speaker at the event:

In summary, very helpful and he wants to thank (on behalf of US!) the JISC and KE for organising the event #KEDA

But what of the possible risks associated with curation of tweets form an event?  Such issues are being addressed as part of the JISC-funded Greening Events II project which is being led by ILRT, University of Bristol, with UKOLN delivering a workpackage on best practices for event amplification.  In a blog post published yesterday on Assessing the Risks: Twitter Kirsty Pitkin described an initial risk assessment approach which will be included in the Greening Events II report on use of Twitter at events.

In this post, I’ll not repeat the warnings of possible risks (which include event spam and inappropriate tweets). However the initial risk is worth highlighting: the risk of doing nothing or failing to engage. For those who may be averse to taking risks it should be noted that doing nothing may be the biggest risk!

Reading Kirsty’s comments it occurred to me that in addition to inappropriate tweets resulting from the mob mentality i.e. “the audience may engage in a negative critique of the speaker whilst a presentation is ongoing” there may also be tweets which the person tweeting may feel not to be appropriate to be included in a curated record (e.g. jokey asides),  As part of the process for curating tweets I’m thinking that a summary which provides the context, the scoping criteria for including and information about removing inappropriate tweets may be a useful addition to a curated story would be useful.  My suggested approach is given below:

These tweets were curated by Brian Kelly, UKOLN based on tweets with the #KEDAI hashtag.  Duplicate entries (i.e. RTs) have been removed. A summary of the curation of this story has been posted ion the UK Web Focus blog at

If any inappropriate tweets have been included in this story, please contact Brian Kelly (@briankelly). If appropriate such tweets will be removed.

I’d welcome your thoughts.

Posted in Identifiers, Twitter | 2 Comments »

Five Years of Using Twitter – Is It Becoming As Essential as Email?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 March 2012


After Five Years of Using Twitter, It Is Now Embedded For Me

Five years ago today, acccording to TWbirthay, I created my Twitter account. And via the MyFirstTweet service I was able to rediscover what I said on that momentous occasion. Rather disappointingly it was:

Filling in my expenses forms, after trip to JISC Conference at Birmingham.

I can’t remember what my first email was about, but I suspect I sent it on a Honeywell Multics mainframe shortly after starting work at Loughborough University of Technology in 1984. I do remember subsequently getting involved in a discussion as to whether undergraduate students should be allowed to use email: I was in favour, but some felt that the service would be used for inappropriate social purposes. A more senior colleague pointed out that we, Computer Services staff, used email to agree on the pub to go to on Friday lunchtimes and as we used email for social purposes, we could hardly block students from doing likewise.

The Computer Services Director at the time did not himself use email, with messages being printed off and delivered to his in-tray. That may sound strange today, but I sometimes wonder whether Twitter today is regarded in a similar fashion as email was almost 30 years ago, with senior managers pointing out that they have important strategic and management decisions to make, whilst others who had chosen not to embrace the new technology would argue that the trivia about going to the pub illustrated the irrelevance of the medium to those who weren’t part of such social activities and wanted to focus on doing their job.

Sounds familiar?

Usage of Twitter over 5 years

As I described in a post entitled 5,000 Tweets On Twitter provides value across a range of my professional activities, and its use is now embedded with, according to Tweetstats, an average of six tweets per day being posted. Indeed, as I mentioned a few days ago, Twitterers Do It In Bed! – and, according to the accompanying poll, find value in the flexibility it provides.

An example of the value of Twitter’s rapid response can be seen from a series of five DMs (Direct Message) which was used to commission a parallel session for the IWMW 2012 event:

[Me]: BTW Are you interested in submitting anything to IWMW 2012?

[M]: was wondering whether people might be interested in hearing from GOVUK guys about agile, open source, inhouse dev & maybe facilitating that?

[Me]: That sound great. Very relevant. Want to say something about learning from others outside HE sector.

[M]: It fits in with a lot of the anti-CMS stuff Mike Nolan talks about as well – I’ll send in a proper proposal – is it in Edinburgh?

[Me]: Edinburgh on 18-20 June. Thanks

While I was having this conversation which led to an agreement for a session at the IWMW 2012 event, I was composing a message to another speaker, which hadn’t been finished by the time the above Twitter conversation had been completed. Twitter can be so much more productive in cases like this, I have found. This is not to say that Twitter has replaced email; rather that in an environment in which digital literacy is important, an ability to make use of a range of tools to support one’s tasks is important for those who are looking for productivity gains.

I’ve haven’t got time for Twitter

People do say “I haven’t got the time for Twitter” or “I don’t get Twitter“. I think the former view seems to demonstrate a lack of understanding of the importance of filtering and the value of Twitter clients beyond the web site. The latter view does, however, provide the suggestion that there is something to ‘get’ beyond the sending of 140 characters in a fashion similar to sending SMS messages.

Back in 2009 in a post on Twitter for idiots Andy Powell was critical of the view that a half-day Twitter course was actually needed, especially for information professions. Perhaps a half-day course is no longer needed. I’d like to summarise my Twitter for Sceptics advice in five bullet points:

  • A Twitter ID can be valuable in itself (you don’t actually have to tweet using it). This is particularly true if you speak at conferences in which a back-channel provides event amplification of the talks, since it can provide an identifier for the speakers.
  • Although having a Twitter community (the people who have chosen to follow you) is valuable in achieving the critical mass which can help support effective discussion and debate on Twitter, if you have no followers you can still contribute by making use of a Twitter hashtag, such as an event hashtag, which will enable your contributions to be seen by others following the hashtag.
  • If you feel passionate about arguments being made on TV programmes such as BBC’s Question Time, you can contribute to the debate by tweeting with the programmes hashtag (#bbcqt).
  • You should not read every tweet from people you follow – Twitter, unlike email, is meant to be a stream of ideas which you can dip into and contribute to.
  • You get a much better appreciation of the subtleties of Twitter if you use a dedicated client such as TweetDeck, rather than the Twitter web site.

Anything I’ve missed?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Twitter | 3 Comments »

The #LODLAM Session at #SXSW Demonstrates Importance of Consistency of Session Hashtags

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 March 2012

What’s Happening at #SXSW?

My former colleagues Adrian Stevenson (@adrianstevenson) and Julie Allinson (@julieallinson) are taking part in a panel session on “Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web” today at the #SXSW 2012 Interactive, Film and Music festival in Austin, Texas. I should also add that information about #SXSW is also available on Lanyrd, and, is increasingly happens, information on individual sessions, such as the Open Cultural Heritage Data session is also available on Lanyrd.

From Twitter I discovered that there is a SXSW festival app available for several mobile phone platforms which I installed on my iPod Touch to see what could be learnt from the approaches they’ve taken.

As can be seen it provides access to information about the sessions, location details and biographical information for speakers and panelists. In addition there is also a share facility which is populated with session information which can be shared on Twitter, Google+, Facebook or by SMS, again as illustrated.

However, as pointed out in a tweet by @ellielovell:

Just realised that the hashtags advertised for sessions in the pocket guide, are different from the ones on the SXSW Go app. Annoying #sxswi

As can be seen, the event hashtags for the session are #sxsw (the festival’s hashtag) and #LODLAM which, as can be seen from a Twitter search, is a well-established hashtag for discussions about Linked Open Data used in a Libraries, Archives and Museums context (as can be seen from the LOD-LAM Zotero group and Google Group and the web site about the International Linked Open Data in Libraries Archives and Museums Summit held in San Francisco
in June 2011).

The session page on the festival’s web site provides easily found details of the hashtag for the various sessions. In order to see the patterns for the hashtags I have summarised details for sessions which may be of interest to readers of this blog, with links to both the session abstracts and Twitter searches.

Session Hashtag Search
Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web #LODLAM Search
The Connected Company: An Inventory of the Possible #connected Search
Excessive Enhancement: JavaScript’s Dark Side #excess Search
The Social Network for Computers #SocNetComp Search
Are We Killing Social with Social? #killsoc Search
The New Black? How Digital Ed Is Everything #nwblk Search
Using Big Data Takes Machines & Humans #manmachine Search
The UnCollege: Learning Outside University #uncollege Search
The Trend of Trending #Trending Search
Open APIs: What’s Hot? What’s Not? #apishotnot Search
How Is Internet Helping People Make Their Own Laws #onlinelaw Search
#NoFailWhale: Tweet More, Drop Out Less #NoFWhale Search

Hashtag Strategies for Events

According to Wikipedia Twitter hashtags were invented on 23 August 2007. Their role in events quickly became apparent and by 2009, as referenced in a post about Twitter archiving,  event hashtags were being used at large events such as #ALTC2009 and #IWMW2009. In August 2009 in a post on Hashtags for the ALT-C 2009 Conference I proposed the event organisers should take responsibility for proposing hashtags for individual sessions as well as for the event itself. This proposal did not go down well, with the following comments being made:

  • Sorry Brian, but I do think this scheme is too complicated for the lightweight Twitter approach”
  • I really think this is trying to make Twitter something it isn’t. The very thing that people appreciate about Twitter is its lightweight nature and this is simply over complicating things”
  • When you first started suggesting multiple hashtags, I think I assumed it was a bit of a comedy experiment. Now, it’s becoming clear that The Librarian Is Too Strong In You.”
  • Way too complicated, messy, and just so damn cluttered”
  • I’m in agreement with those that suggest this is over-complicating things – mainly because I struggle to see the problem it’s solving”
  • Sorry Brian, I’m with the others here. Twitter is for catching the ‘buzz’”.

There were six negative comments with only one supporting, although in a somewhat lukewarm fashion, my suggestion:

In the past I’ve generally argued against multiple hashtags – agreeing with the comment that they introduce complexity. However, given the size of ALT-C, and the number of concurrent sessions, I have some sympathy with the issue that Brian raise”

However a year later I asked Are the Benefits of Multiple Event Hashtags Now Accepted?. As can be seen for the SXSW festival, it does seem that session hashtags provide both a useful way of easily referring to a session and to enable others to easily find and join in the discussions.

The challenge is now to establish conventions for agreeing on the session hashtags.  For events I have organised, such as the IWMW series, I use #Pn for the plenary talks and #An, #Bn and #Cn for the three parallel sessions. These tags are advertised on the event web site, as illustrated. In addition the session chair will announce the hashtags at the start of each session.

But, as we have seen from the approaches taken at SXSW, should a more human-friendly naming convention be used? For sessions which are discussing topics which have an established hashtag there can be advantages in this approach. But what if this isn’t the case?  I’d be interested in hearing about the approaches taken by other event organiser. One thing that is clear is the need for consistency. As @ellielovell commented in response to a query about the SXSW app and the session hashtag:

you don’t see them until you use the “Tweet” button and then it puts it in the tweet. They should have advertised it in app

It would, I feel, be unfortunate if valuable Twitter discussions were fragmented across different session hashtags.

Posted in Twitter | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Importance of Images in Blog Posts

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 March 2012

Over the past year or so I’ve become aware of the importance of images in blog posts. I noticed this after I started to move away from reading blogs on my RSS reader on my mobile device, which didn’t include images, to use of RSS and Twitter aggregator services, such as Smartr, Pulse, Flipboard or Zite.

An example of the interface which I use most mornings on the way to work can be seen. This image shows the Pulse App on my iPod Touch. As can be seen in the display of UKOLN RSS feeds my blog and the blog for my colleague Marieke Guy both feature images taken from the blog posts which can held differentiate posts; in contrast items available in the UKOLN News RSS feed, for which we tend not to provide images,  fail to stand out.

It was as the importance of such personalised newspaper apps started to become apparent that I decided to make greater use of images on this blog. In this respect I am well behind Martin Weller who, on his Ed Techie blog, frequently includes images in his posts.

The thing I didn’t expect was to see such interfaces being provided for desktop browsers. However last week when I followed a link to a post on Library 2.0 on Steve Wheeler’s Learning With ‘E’s blog I found a similar graphical interface, with an image for the most recent post displayed prominently and images for other recent posts displayed underneath.

I think it will be interesting to see the way in which user interface approaches developed for mobile devices start to migrate to a desktop environment.

In a post on Who let the blogs out? Steve discusses the new theme, with a tongue-in-cheek reference to a recent series of posts on the Context is King vs Context is King debate:

For all these years I have been focusing mainly on content. It was substance over style. Focusing solely on content at the expense of context is a mistake. 

Steve went on to describe the changes to the blog:

I gave my blog a makeover a few days ago. I invoked one of the new templates that Blogger has just started to offer its users. You can see the difference it has made.  …  It holds the content, and presents it in a manner that is more accessible, easy to explore and in a more dynamic way. 

The point about “accessible content” is important, I feel, particularly in the context of accessibility for people with disabilities, which often focusses on support for Assistive Technologies (AT). But since the content hosted on blogs is available as RSS feeds, this enables end users much greater flexibility in reading blog content in ways which reflect their own personal preferences, some of which may be determined  by particular disabilities.  So for me the accessibility challenge when presented with more graphical and flexible interfaces such as the one that can be seen on Steve’s blog is the ease by which such content can be rendered by AT tools, possibly including tools which don’t support JavaScript. It is good to see that the blog is felt to conform with accessibility guidelines according to WAVE (based, of course, on only checking guidelines which can be tested with automated tools) although the blog does not conform with HTML standards.

It will be interesting to see if developments such as this theme, which is provided on the platform, owned by Google, will challenge traditional views on the importance of HTML conformance and Web accessibility guidelines. I would be interested to find out if the content of the blog can be made available to AT tools whilst still providing the new interface for those who prefer this way of interacting with continually the updated content we often find on blogs.

I should add that Steve’s blog can be read on my iPod Touch and Android phone using apps such as Pulse. This makes me wonder if we can regard such devices as AT tools for users who may, for example, find it difficult to make use of desktop computers?

Posted in Accessibility, Blog | 17 Comments »

Twitterers Do It In Bed!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 March 2012

This morning I ‘met’ @dboudreau and chatted with him about web accessibility conferences. I also came across a tweet which linked to a blog post from John Foliot about the recent CSUN 12 conference. After reading the post I noticed that his comments about the need for accessibility advocates to be willing to discard the view that HTML pages must conform with HTML standards if this gets in the way of implementing non-conformant approaches (such as use of WAI-ARIA techniques) which enhance accessibility of web resources for people with disabilities. This view was relevant to a discussion I was having yesterday with @mjday so I tweeted the link to him.

I then saw a tweet from @hdzimmermann which had been retweeted by @wowter which linked to a report on The Future of Research Communication (available in PDF format). The report looked very interesting but, at 24 pages, was too long to read on my iPod Touch, so I favourited it so I could read it later. As I was aware that the report would be of interest to others, I also retweeted it. My suspicion that the report would be of interest was confirmed when I noticed that, shortly afterwards, @PlanetClaire and @antoesp themselves favourited my retweet.

Looking at my recent Twitter interactions (a feature which is now standard in the mobile Twitter app) I realised that I did not know who @antoesp, who had favourited my tweet. Looking at her Twitter biography I found that she is:

PhD candidate in the Education and ICT (e-learning) program – UOC, Barcelona. Submitted my MRes thesys on digital scholarship, IoE, University of London.

She also provided a link to her page from which I learnt that her current research activities include:

social media and course design, research ethics in online settings, impact of ICTs in higher education institutions, digital scholars and open faculty, open educational practices and new models of higher education.

Looking at a post of hers on Cloudworks I found we had shared interests relating to open scholarly practices:

Investigating the relationship between emerging digital scholarship and open scholarship in higher education settings.

I sent @antoesp, a DM (Direct Message) asking if she’d be willing to write a guest post on this blog about her interests in open scholarship and was pleased to receive a speedy response agreeing to my request.

I then got out of bed!

Before I got out of bed, however, I reflected on how the world has changed in the past five years.  Until a few years ago the notion that you would engage in engage in online discussions about your work would have been the stuff of dreams – or perhaps nightmares!  Was I alone in such practices, I wondered? And so I asked:

Anyone else willing to confess to sending work-related tweets & emails while in bed from their mobile device #thingsIdidntexpect

It seems I am not alone with people responding:

*puts hands up*

yep, I do that occasionally

I confess.

All the time!

Forgive me Father for I have sinned #manytimes

I find that @DaGooses do it all the time! Me less so #BedWorkTweets

of course!

more often on laptop but pretty much everyday

guilty as charged m’lud

On the other hand a few people gave alternative views :

No absolutely not , you need to get out more Brian !

nope – would be more than my life was worth!

You’re saying there are actually people who tweet re work from bed? To quote Sheldon, For shame! For shame!

The most insightful comment, however, came from Chris Gutteridge who said:

 I do the most productive work for my job before I out of bed, generally. Office full of distractions.

I find that using Twitter in the way described in this post is useful in catching up with background reading (the links which are shared) and hot topics (the discussions which are taking place).  In addition, as I found in my dialogue with @antoesp, Twitter can provide a lightweight tool to carry out business transactions.

Tweeting in bed could, of course cause domestic problems. I should add that at around 9am this morning while I was engaging in discussions with my Twitter stream my girlfriend was reading the Guardian App on her iPad. We are both comfortable with making use of our mobile devices when we’re together – in a way perhaps because the technologies we use are so transparent to us that we don’t regard them as technologies, just as we don’t talk about the television technology, the cinema technology or the newspaper technology (although when it comes to sharing sections of the Guardian on a Saturday morning the print format is superior to the iPad app, especially when I want to read the Sport supplement).

However one comment highlighted addition possible concerns regarding such practices:

Yep, done that. But reading the Google Apps update blog at 3am was a particular work/life balance low.

This is a legitimate concern. But is it anything new? Weren’t work/life balance issues still relevant before technologies became so pervasive, with pressures to take home excessive amounts of reports to read, which may have also been read in bed (although report-writing was probably restricted to the living room or study)? What do you think? Do you tweet in bed?  Do you think this is unhealthy? Or do you feel that this enables you to have the flexibility to adopt working practices which you feel comfortable with?  feel free to leave a comment or, if you’d prefer to leave an anonymous view, respond to the poll.

Posted in Twitter | 5 Comments »

Paper Accepted for #W4A2012 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 March 2012

A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Putting People and Processes First

I’m pleased to report that a paper on “A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Putting People and Processes First” has been accepted for the W4A 2012 conference, the 9th International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility.

The paper is the latest in a series of peer-reviewed papers on Web accessibility based on work led by myself and David Sloan, an accessibility researcher based at the University of Dundee.

This paper is co-authored with Martyn Cooper (the lead author, who is based at the Open University), Sarah Lewthwaite (based at King’s College London who was a co-author of our award-winning paper on Developing Countries; Developing Experiences: Approaches to Accessibility for the Real World presented at the W4A 2010 conference) together with David Sloan.

The paper will be made publicly available next month. The abstract for the paper describes how:

This paper argues that web accessibility is not an intrinsic characteristic of a digital resource but is determined by complex political, social and other contextual factors, as well as technical aspects which are the focus of WAI standardisation activities. It can therefore be inappropriate to develop legislation or focus on metrics only associated with properties of the resource.

The authors describe the value of standards such as BS 8878 which focus on best practices for the process of developing web products and include a user focus.

The paper concludes with a case study that illustrates how learning analytics could provide data to support the improvement of the inclusivity of learning resources, providing a broader perspective beyond the digital resource.

A post which will discuss these ideas, and the challenges which are presented to legislators, policy makers and practitioners who develop practices based on a view that web accessibility is an intrinsic property of a resource which is independent of its context of use, will be published at a later date. For now, however, I’d like to reflect on the working practices and tools we used in writing the paper.

Collaborative Tools Used In Writing The Paper

Display of paper from Skydrive App on iPod Touch

As I suspect is increasingly the norm for collaborative writing, once we had had the initial exchange of emails and agreed to submit a paper, we created a Google Doc. The document was used initially for sharing ideas for the paper and writing the initial draft based on the initial proposed structure.

As the submission deadline approached we became aware that the paper would need significant editing in order to be within the page limit impose by the conference organisers. We therefore copied the content to an MS Word file so that we could had a better idea of the overall shape of the paper which helped to identify the sections we needed to remove.

In order to carry out the final editing we agree that the MS Word file would be the new master copy, and we abandoned the Google Doc which was used in the initial brainstorming of ideas and the production of the earl drafts.

We investigated use of Google Docs as an environment for managing the MS Word file, but that didn’t work.  We therefore decided to evaluate the Microsoft’s Skydrive service which, as described in Wikipedia is “a free-of-charge file hosting service that allows users to upload files to a cloud storage and then access them from a Web browser“. The Wikipedia article goes on to add:

Microsoft added Office Web Apps support to SkyDrive in its “Wave 4″ update allowing users to upload, create, edit, and share Microsoft Office documents directly within a Web browser. Users can create, view and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents within the Web browser. … Users of recent versions of Microsoft Office (for Windows or Macintosh) can use the desktop applications to edit the same section of documents stored on SkyDrive simultaneously. Changes are synchronized when users save the document, and where conflicts occur, a user is given the selection to choose which version to keep.

We found that we could store an MS Word file on Skydrive and edit the file within the browser whilst maintaining the MS Word formatting, although as the checking-in and -out capabilities are dependent on the version of MS Word used locally we did not fully exploit this capability. Skydrive also provides access control, so I could specify who could read or update the paper. In addition the Skydrive App for my iPod Touch enabled me to view the file on a mobile device – and this morning while rereading the paper I noticed a couple of minor changes which improved the readability of the paper. The accompanying screenshot shows the view of the paper which I read on the app.

I’m pleased that writing this paper provided an opportunity to evaluate a new service which appears valuable for collaborative writing when a formatted MS Word file is the intended final output. This is a tool I intend using again in the future. However I’m sure there are many people who have used other collaborative authoring tools which may provide additional advantages. I’m also willing, as part of my open practices for my professional activities, to share my development practices as well as provide open access to my outputs. I’d invite others to share the practices they use in their collaborative writing.

Posted in Accessibility | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Profiling Staff and Researcher Use of Cloud Services Across Russell Group Universities

Posted by Brian Kelly on 5 March 2012

Personal Benefits of Maximising Inbound Links to Research Papers

A recent post on this blog which described How Researchers Can Use Inbound Linking Strategies to Enhance Access to Their Papers reviewed personal experiences of the benefits of making use of third party services to provide inbound links to research publications.

In the post I suggested that the large numbers of downloads of my papers from the University of Bath institutional repository may be due to the enhanced Google juice provided by having links to my papers from such services. The purpose of the post was to suggest that researchers may benefit from increased access to their research publications if they are pro-active in using such services. My speculations may, of course, be incorrect; the downloads may be due to the quality of the papers rather than the numbers of in-bound links, for example :-). In addition, downloads themselves are not, of course an indication of quality. However since the papers, which have been through some form of peer-reviewing, will not have any influence if they are never read, I am happy to regard such approaches as helping to enhance the numbers of people reading the papers which may, or may not, lead to some form of subsequent ‘impact’.  Note that the slideshow on “Metrics: The New Black?” by Kristen Fisher Ratan which are available on Slideshare explores such considerations in more detail.

Profiling Institutional Use of Such Services

I recently came across the Libresearch blog which is provided by Jenny DelaSalle who, on her @JennyDelasalle Twitter profile describes herself as a “Research support Librarian: interested in bibliometrics, copyright, scholarly communications, and all sorts!”  I read her posts on topics including Webometrics and altmetrics: digital world measurementsWarwick people on external profile sites and 1,670 Warwick people on In the latter two posts she documented evidence of take-up of a number of third party services by researchers at the University of Warwick. Her post included a reference to one of my posts which profiled Russell Group university use of Google Scholar Citations. I am now able to build on Jenny’s work by using some of the survey methodology techniques she has helpfully documented in her blog to document evidence of take-up across the twenty Russell group university of popular third party service which provide links to research publications.

Having read the post on Warwick people on external profile sites it occurred to me that such institutional profiling work would benefit from being seen in a wider context. I therefore used the methodologies documented by Jenny in her blog post to gather similar information across the twenty Russell Group universities.

The findings are given in the following table. Note that the data for the Academia, LinkedIn and ResearcherID was collected on 1 March 2012 and the data for Google Scholar Citations on 3 March 2012.

Ref. No. Institution  Academia LinkedIn LinkedIn ResearcherID Google Scholar
(Followers) (Current)
1 University of Birmingham   1,473   4,161   2,855      77 77
2 University of Bristol   1,603   3,687   3,167     231 55
3 University of Cambridge   5,287   7,371   6,919     400 83
4 Cardiff University   1,456   3,558   3,087     442 38
5 University of Edinburgh   3,341   5,947   5,536     241 75
6 University of Glasgow   1,572   3,147   3,646       27  70
7 Imperial College   1,383   7,615   6,306     399  78
8 King’s College London   2,182   5,078       25      64  35
9 University of Leeds   2,706    5,251   5,954    198  39
10 University of Liverpool   1,292   3,325   4,330    148  26
11 London School of Economics   1,909    6,907   1,914      36  37
12 University of Manchester   3,603    6,517   7,425     278  74
13 Newcastle University   1,509    3,583   3,001     173   94
14 University of Nottingham   2,022    5,107   6,010     315   52
15 University of Oxford   6,723    7,771   8,751     346 128
16 Queen’s University Belfast   1,100    1,978   5   1,989       88   24
17 University of Sheffield   1,701    4,171   5,269      255   36
18 University of Southampton   1,738    4,176   4,642      255   52
19 University College London   4,587    9,034   6,334      673  160
20 University of Warwick   1,770    3,667   2,855     199    34
TOTAL 48,957 102,051  88,03190,015  5,599 1,267


As described in an article on Using LinkedIn For SEO:

Your profile can be an excellent source of SEO friendly links because:

    • LinkedIn has great authority in Google
    • Your website links can be given unique anchor text with the dofollow attribute
    • Your LinkedIn profile can have highly relevant content relative to the websites you own

It might be reasonable to assuming the use of the LinkedIn service comes mainly from staff and research students. In light of the popularity of the service might be find that encouraging researchers to provide links to copies of their papers hosted in their institutional repository will provide benefits not only for the individual researcher, but for the repository service itself, though the increased numbers of inbound links?

The DirectionsSEO site provides information on 5 Inbound Link Analysis Tools which may help to provide evidence of the value of inbound links. Initial experimentation with the service suggests, however, that has the highest SEO ranking of domains linking to the University of Bath Opus repository service. But before concluding that researchers should be blogging about their research publications on the platform  I’d welcome feedback on the suggestion that the next stage for maximising access to research publication should be based on inbound linking strategies rather than further developments to institutional services.

Paradata:   As described in  a post on Paradata for Online Surveys blog posts which contain live links to data will include a summary of the survey environment in order to help ensure that survey findings are reproducible, with information on potentially misleading information being highlighted.

The data for the AcademiaLinkedIn and ResearcherID was collected on 1 March 2012 and the data for Google Scholar Citations on 3 March 2012.

The values for Google Scholar Citation for the universities of Birmingham and Newcastle include ‘UK’ in the search field in order to avoid including information from US and Australian universities with the same name.

It should also be noted that I was logged into the services when I gathered the information.

It should also be noted that the low values for LinkedIn followers for King’s College London and Queen’s University Belfast are felt to be due to the apostrophe used in the institution’s names. For example of search (carried out on 6 March 2012) on LinkedIn for King’s College London gives 3,418 hits but a search for Kings College London gives 294 hits.

Posted in Evidence, Repositories | 6 Comments »

How Researchers Can Use Inbound Linking Strategies to Enhance Access to Their Papers

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 March 2012

The Value of Inbound Links to Resources

Via Smartr, the iPod Touch app I use to read articles which have been posted by Twitter followers, this morning I came across a link provided by a tweet which described an Inbound linking strategy to get to the top listing on google fast. The post described how the author, a web manager at Florida International University:

… developed  a strategy I would make inbound links to the FIU President’s Council site from places I can control a few of these places include FIU News,Alumni AssociationFIU A to Z index, blogs that have comments open, etc.  and on all those I make links using the words FIU President’s Council that link directly to the sites homepage.

The importance of providing links to a resource in order to maximise access to the resource is well understood – particularly, it seems, by spammers.  But how could such well-established techniques be used in an ethical way by researchers?

The answer, it seems to me, is quite simple. Researchers do have access to a wide range of web services which can legitimately provide links to their research publications.   This is an approach I have been using for several years. A summary of the numbers of publications which are listed in the services I use is given in the following Table.

Service My Account Summary
Microsoft Academic Search My details 39*
Google Scholar Citations My details  82
Researcher ID My details 10
Scopus My details  23 My details  50
Researchgate My details 110
Mendeley My details  23

*  The Microsoft Academic Search automatically includes papers from people with the same name.  These need to be manually excluded and there is a delay before updates are validated.  The service currently lists 286 papers, including many from medical researchers of the same name.  However only 39 papers have been claimed as authored by me.

It should also be noted that a number of the services provide links to the research papers (which in my case and normally hosted on the University of Bath institutional repository) although other services only provide the metadata.

Evidence of Enhanced Access

There is a cost to registering for such services and uploading details of one’s papers. However in practice I have found that it does not take a significant amount of time to upload relevant information and the services can provide useful information, such as helping to visualise one’s professional network and, as illustrated (taken from Mendeley) growth in  the number of citations, downloads, followers, etc.

But although individual  may or may not find such information of interest or value, there remains a question as to whether there is any tangible evidence of growth in downloads due to a policy of enhancing the numbers of links to such resources.

A possible answer to that question may be found form an analysis of the download statistics for items stored on Opus, the University of Bath institutional repository.

In order to make comparisons an image is shown of the top 20 most downloaded items provided by staff at UKOLN.

From this list we can see that I am a co-author of 15 of the top 20 items.

There may be several explanations for this:

Quality of the papers: Although two of my papers are the highest ranked papers which have been published at the W4A conference series I am quite happy to say that I am convinced that my colleagues have produced papers of much greater research value.

Social media optimisation: The paper on  Library 2.0: balancing the risks and benefits to maximise the dividends is the second most downloaded single paper from the University of Bath repository. The popularity of this paper was due to the large numbers of downloads shortly after the availability of the paper had been announced on this blog.  Although I am convinced that use of social media can also enhance access to peer-reviewed papers, several of the other popular papers in the above list were published between 2004 and 2007, before Twitter and before I was making significant use of the blog.

To conclude, I believe that adding information about one’s research publications to services such as, ResearchGate, Microsoft Academic Search and Google Scholar citations can increase the visibility of the papers to Google, as well as to users of the services, which may then lead to increased numbers of downloads, citations and take-up of the ideas described in the papers.

Do you agree?

Posted in Evidence, Papers, Repositories | 8 Comments »

Draft JISC Observatory Report on “Delivering Web to Mobile”

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 March 2012

The JISC Observatory is provided by UKOLN and JISC CETIS to “systematise the way in which the JISC anticipates and responds to projected future trends and scenarios in the context of the use of technology in Higher & Further Education, and Research in the UK“.

The JISC Observatory is responsible for commissioning reports which cover areas of IT which are felt to be of significance for the higher and further education sector.  Last year a report on “Augmented Reality for Smartphones” written by Ben Butchart, EDINA was published.  Last year we also commissioned a report on “Delivering Web to Mobile” which is being written by Mark Power, JISC CETIS.  As described on the JISC Observatory blog a preview version of this report is now available (in PDF format).

This report looks at the growth of mobile, the state of the Web and gives an overview of approaches to delivering content and services optimised for the mobile context. This includes approaches to Web design for responsive sites, leveraging access to device functions and capabilities and the use of Web technologies to build mobile applications.

This preview version of the report is being made available for a period of 1 month to allow for public comment and feedback. A final version will be produced shortly after the 23 March 2012, which is the last date for submitting comments which will be addressed in the final updates.

Please use the comments facility on the JISC Observatory web site for providing comments. Comments of any nature are welcomed but particularly those pointing out: significant omissions in your view, technical errors or confusing passages.

For the “Augmented Reality for Smartphones” report published last year, during the review process science fiction writer Bruce Stirling commented on the report on the Wired online magazine:

This is a fine piece of comprehensive research work. If you’re an AR developer or content guy, you’re gonna want a printout of this lying around, so you can brandish it at people. You’ll look like you know what you’re talking about!

We hope that our latest report is as well-received.  However since this comment related to a preview release, the link provided to the report on the Wired web site was not to the final version.  If you do wish to publish a link to this report, please link to the accompanying blog post, which provides a context for the report, rather than linking directly to the PDF file.

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