Twitter has proven to be a useful tool in measuring impact, particularly when it is used in real - time. The LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog provides a case of successful research impact measurement with this social media platform.
The ODI digital strategy, first outlined in a series of blogs for onthinktanks.org, was awarded Online Strategy of the Year 2012 at the prestigious Digital Communications Awards, held in Berlin on Friday. ODI beat off competition from multinational corporations and specialist digital agencies to claim this major award. This post is based on the speech give to the jury and explains very succinctly what the strategy is and where/why it has worked.
Cameron Neylon of the LSE blog Impact of Social Sciences has recently written a piece on the possibility of tracking research impact via Twitter. Monitoring the way how research influences policy and how professionals use the studies they’ve read on their day-to-day practice has proven to be difficult for a number of reasons: professionals don’t usually write new research papers citing the work they’ve used as sources; identifying said sources can be tricky because they may be several steps behind from the new study; and sometimes researchers aren’t even aware of their work being used because they are so far removed from its practical application.
Neylon mentions an example of a research article on HIV status, domestic violence and rape, reaching a practitioner community, which he found via Altmetric, a web app that helps track conversations around scientific articles online. The article was tweeted by several accounts, particularly by two South African support and advocacy groups. This example shows that it is possible to identify where research is being discussed and by whom.
It is possible, however, to go further than this:
More recently I’ve shown some other examples of heavily tweeted papers that relate to work funded by cancer charities. In one of those talks I made the throw away comment “You’ve always struggled to see whether practitioners actually use your research…and there are a lot of nurses on Twitter”. I hadn’t really followed that up until yesterday when I asked on twitter about research into the use of social media by nurses and was rapidly put in touch with a range of experts on the subject (remind me, how did we ask speculative research questions before Twitter?) . So the question I’m interested in probing is whether the application of research by nurses is something that can be tracked using links shared on Twitter as a proxy?
The hypothesis is that the links shared by nurses and their online community via Twitter are a viable proxy of a portion of the impact of certain research on clinical practice. This, of course, could be used for other professions as well, by monitoring what research is tweeted, how much it is retweeted and how often.
The Impact of Social Sciences blog also has a guide to using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities.
Another request for support in updating the Wikipedia page on think tanks. I could do it (and have) but it would defeat the purpose of Wikipedia if I did it alone. Can I encourage you, avid onthinktank readers to give it a go. There is also a page in Spanish.
Wikipedia is still one of the main drivers of traffic to this site every day. So online readers are using the site for information about think tanks. Whatever your views on its reliability, the site matters.
Similarly, on the right column of this think tank there are a number of RSS feeds coming out of delicious. Any document or page tagged with Think Tank , Communications + Research, Knowledge Management, or YouTube videos related to think tanks or evidence based policy. You can contribute to these lists by adding your resources to the feeds.
And do not forget Twitter. If you find anything worth sharing, please do not hesitate to let me know. Not just information related to the study of think tanks but also announcements from think tanks (new jobs, appointments, new projects, etc.). Just tweet: @onthinktanks and check out the lists and suggest any updates.
From the LSE impact of social sciences blog: a guide to using twitter for researchers:
- Building your following and managing your profile
- Using Twitter to maximise the impact of your research project
- Making the most of Twitter alongside your own blog
- Using course accounts with students
- A step by step guide to adding a Twitter feed to Moodle
- Extra resources and links to blog posts and articles on academic blogging and impact
A few weeks ago Goran Buldioski published a post on transparency and I commented on an article by George Monbiot on think tanks’ transparency. Monbiot’s article sparked some debate on twitter and led Brian Dean from News Frames to put together a list of British think tanks’ twitter accounts to encourage the public to tweet asking them to disclose the source of their funding.
I have taken the liberty to use the list to put together a Twitter list of British think tanks.
I am not sure if as a consequence of this but Unlock Democracy already replied by publishing all their funding over £5000.