for librarians, researchers and educators interested in information management
It seems to be an increasing necessity that researchers provide evidence of their ‘research impact’ and just how to best to create, measure and demonstrate research impact is becoming an important part of the planning process for researchers, as individuals or as groups. Developing a publishing strategy early in the research process can help maximise research impact.
As I noted in a previous post, humanities scholars face a unique set of issues when it comes to disseminating their research. Their outputs – many of which are ‘non-traditional’ such as artworks, curations, films and performances – are not well served by traditional impact measures. Added complications arise with the multi-disciplinary nature of many humanities research groups, and the often-conflicting obligations or expectations concerning the dissemination of research results, such as that which underpins the formulation of public policy.
Some things to consider when developing a publishing strategy are:
How much importance should be given to the status (ie H-index or impact factor) of scholarly journals? Universities tend to place a lot of importance on such measures, often linking funding or promotions to them.
However, open access publishing is becoming increasingly mainstream, with the appearance of many open access journals that are high quality and peer reviewed and the growth of the expectation that results of publicly funded research be accessible to all, not just those within the academic community.
There are advantages to open access publishing – it can increase your visibility and citations, provides greater accessibility to the research, and potentially gives the researcher more ownership over the content, making it easier to re-use data and disseminate results more widely.
Wider dissemination of the research so that it outreaches into the community and fosters public engagement requires alternative formats for presenting the research to make it accessible to different audiences. Reports, blog posts, media articles, interviews, and curations are all ways of engaging with the community. Moreover researchers can increase their level of public engagement through the use of social media.
Traditional methods of measuring impact such as bibliometric reports and citation analyses are insufficient, and humanities researchers need to identify, use and advocate other appropriate methods of measuring impact. Altmetrics tools are being developed and used more and more, measuring such things as: how many people visit a researcher’s blog, download their slideshow presentations, or talk about their research in the media or on social media platforms. ‘Impact’ for humanities researchers often means the social, cultural and economic benefit to the community, and how to measure this can potentially be a research project in itself.
A great resource for humanities researchers, and those who support them, is the handbook produced by the London School of Economics, Maximising the Impacts of your Research: A Handbook for Social Scientists.