New ways to explore your academic impact

It seems that today, for a strange series of coincidences, is a good day if you wanted new tools to explore your academic impact.

First, Google/Scholar Citations has finally been opened to all. Everybody can now create a profile on Google/Scholar, to keep track of articles and citations. I like google/scholar because it finds articles and books that are not indexed on scopus, but that are interesting nevertheless. Plus, it is free to use. However, our paper on Recombination Rates has been recently cited in a Nature Genetics paper, and Google/Scholar didn’t find it out.

Second, the finalists for the PLoS/Mendeley binary battle have been selected. Check the list here. The PLoS/Mendeley binary battle is an initiative proposed by these two organizations to encourage the writing of applications that make use the PLoS and the Mendeley APIs, to retrieve information on papers and readers. So, this initiative is originating some very good web applications to explore academic impact or play with citations and papers, and here I will describe some of my favourites.

I like two tools to see the impact of research articles on Internet: Total Impact and Readermeter. They both allow to see how many times your articles are read on Mendeley, cited, referenced on Twitter and Facebook, bookmarked on CiteULike, and much more.  The nice thing about Total Impact is that it also indexes my presentations on slideshare: for example, one of my presentations on Python is actually more popular than any other paper. However, one of our papers is not being recognized correctly, because of a duplicated entry in mendeley. On the other hand, Readermeter allows to see the geographical distribution of readers, and provides more statistics. It would be good if it would be possible to embed one of these two reports in a web page, for example in the About page of a blog, or an academic home page.

My TotalImpact report. Click on it to see the full report. Check also my ReaderMeter report if you like.

Another tool I liked is PaperCritic. It is a repository of commentaries on published papers. The idea is not entirely new: PLoS and other journals already allow to comment on papers. Unfortunately not all publishing houses provide this option.. moreover, having a central repository of comments on papers makes them easier to browse and select. I only wonder how much this tool is redundant with ResearchBlogging, and if the commentaries posted on the site are communicated to the authors of the paper even if they are not signed on PaperCritic.

So, these tools provides new ways to play with academic impact indicators, and to see whether our work is effectively useful to anyone.. I’ve played with them this morning, but now I would be better to get back to work, to improve their results 🙂


Recruiting mentors for MindTorch

I have a small announcement to make. In the last months I became involved in MindTorch, a London based start-up that aims at matching students and young researchers with potential career mentors. It is important for young people to have a mentor or a person of reference to advise them, telling them how to invest in their future and which mistakes to avoid. MindTorch aims at helping people finding exactly that, by providing a community where everyone can find a mentor.

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We are currently in the phase of recruiting mentors – that is, professional or researchers with good experience and who would be willing to dedicate some time to help and counsel younger people. Every mentor is supposed to dedicate one hour every month to their mentee, for three to six months and starting from next October/November, plus some initial time to communicate with us. So, if you would like to volunteer as a mentor for MindTorch, contact me or register as a mentor on the website.

In summary:

Do I have enough experience to mentor someone? If you have a degree and job experience you can certainly be a good mentor. We will train you and support any doubts you may have.

How much time and effort will it take? You will have to dedicate one hour every month to counsel a younger student, for three to six months.

What do I get from being a mentor? For the moment we are not planning on giving any monetary retribution to mentors, but you will get to learn a lot from the experience and have the opportunity to grow your network of contacts. We will also help you finding mentors and new contacts for your own career.

How to join: register as a mentor on the website.