Rumor Has It: How Exploring Research Engagement through Metrics Transforms Student Learning
MacDonald, Amanda B.
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Increasingly, scholars are finding that their disciplines and sub-fields overlap and complement one another, leading to more cross-disciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations and research projects. A Research Impact Librarian and an Undergraduate Research Services Librarian at a major research institution in the southeastern United States discovered that the overlap in their fields could enhance undergraduate researcher skills and expand the use and purpose of altmetrics. Traditional library instruction often focuses on digital and information literacy skills through keyword development, use of Boolean operators, database navigation, and proper citing of sources but rarely covers concepts related to citation metrics or altmetrics. Unconventional and innovative approaches to library instruction show students that research is not a profession; it is a life skill. Research can, of course, be a major part of someone’s profession, but those who teach research literacy skills have the opportunity to imbue a sense of independence and competence in students unfamiliar with the scholarly conversation. Healthy skepticism, curiosity, exploration, vetting of sources, emotional self-awareness, and a general understanding of human behavior are lifelong research skills that are constantly being honed, reassessed, and developed. Bibliometrics and altmetrics can augment students’ research skills by offering a window into the discussions surrounding research. Librarians can offer a more analytical and critical approach to their research instruction sessions by helping students interpret and decipher the meaning and context behind the metrics. While bibliometrics and altmetrics are traditionally used to assess individual researchers, research institutions, industries, scholarly journals, scholarly societies, and other groups of researchers, this interactive workshop will demonstrate how participants can use altmetrics to teach undergraduate students to engage in the scholarly conversation, develop topics, understand seminal works, evaluate sources, and investigate the motivations behind research metrics in both academic and public spheres.