Trip Report: UKSG (or why librarians & publishers should think altmetrics)

 

For the past couple of days (April 8 – 10, 2013), I attended the UKSG conference. UKSG is organization for academic publishers and librarians. The conference itself has over 700 attendees and is focused on these two groups. I hadn’t heard of it until I was invited by Mike Taylor from Elsevier Labs to give a session with him on altmetrics.

The session was designed to both introduce and give a start-of-the art update on altmetrics to publishers and librarians. You can see what I had to say in the clip above but my main point was that altmetrics is at a stage where it can be advantageously used by scholars, projects and institutions not to rank but instead tell a story about their research. It’s particular important when many scientific artifacts beyond the article (e.g. data, posters, blog posts, videos) are becoming increasingly trackable and can help scholars tell their story.

The conference itself was really a bit weird for me as it was a completely different crowd than I normally would connect with… I had to one of the few “actual” academics there, which lead to my first day tweet:

It was fun to randomly go up to the ACM and IEEE stand and introduce myself not as a librarian or another publisher but as an actual member of their organizations. Overall, though people were quite receptive of my comments and were keen to get my views on what publishing and librarians could be doing to help me as a research out. I do have to say that it was a fairly well funded operation (there is money in academia somewhere)…. I came away with a lot of free t-shirts and USB sticks and I never have been to a conference that had bumper cars for the evening entertainment:

UKSG bumper cars

In addition to (hopefully) contributing to the conference, I learned some things myself. Here are some bullet points in no particular order:

  • Outrageous talk by @textfiles – the Archive Team is super important
  • I talked a lot to Geoffrey Bilder from CrossRef. Topics included but not limited to:
    • why and when indirection is important for permanence in url space
    • the need for a claims (i.e. nanopublications) database referencing ORCID
    • the need for consistent url policies on sites and a “living will” for sites of importance
    • when will scientist get back to being scientists and stop being marketers (is this statement true, false, in-between, or is it even a bad thing)
    • the coolness of labs.crossref.org
  • It’s clear that librarians are the publishers customers, academics are second. I think this particular indirection  badly impacts the market.
  • Academic content output is situated in a network – why do we de-link it all the time?
  • The open access puppy
  •  

  • It was interesting to see the business of academic publishing going done. There were lots of pretty intense looking dealings going down that I witnessed in the cafe.
  • Bournemouth looks like it could have some nice surfing conditions.

Overall, UKSG was a good experience to see, from the inside, this completely other part of the academic complex.

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