STM Digest will feature lay summaries of science papers with societal impact

Collaboration between Elsevier journals and Mendeley will start with economics and environmental science pilot; early career researchers can serve as Research Ambassadors

A new service called STM Digest will focus on highlighting Elsevier's published research and exposing it to the broader research community and the general public in a digestible format. It was created by Elsevier Publishers Deirdre Dunne and Donna de Weerd-Wison. Here, they write about the initiative and how early career researchers can become involved.

Apply to be a Research Ambassador

Update: We're looking for early career researchers who are interested in joining STM Digest as Research Ambassadors. If you are an active early career researcher, you can apply here.

The STM Digest pilot will highlight articles in Elsevier's Environmental & Ecology and Economics & Finance journals and will likely expand to include other portfolios in 2015.

As more and more connections are made between scientific disciplines, researchers increasingly find themselves reaching beyond their own subject area for information. What's more, as economics, the environment, healthcare and other scientific topics dominate the news, people with little or no scientific training are compelled to seek out original research but are often unable to understand and interpret it clearly.

This reality has sparked the creation of a new kind of publication at Elsevier. STM Digest will be a collection of layman translations/summaries of original research papers with societal impact or policy focus. These lay summaries have the potential to make research more accessible, improve engagement in science, and benefit wider society. The articles will be published online and next to the original article on ScienceDirect and will be freely available. STM Digest will begin by highlighting relevant articles in Elsevier's Environmental & Ecology and Economics & Finance journals and will likely expand to include other portfolios in 2015.

"Translation of research towards policy and science users is a vital part of growing impact, and STM Digest supports this in an interesting and accessible way," said Dr. Ruth Alcock, Editor-in-Chief of Environment International.

How STM Digest works

The initiative is a collaboration between Elsevier's STM Journals group and Mendeley. We will continue to expand our journal networks by signing up interested early career researchers who, under the title of Research Ambassador, will write lay summaries of recently accepted journal articles with the approval of the original author.

The first lay summaries are already online:

The Mendeley STM Digest Group will form the meeting place where authors, early career researchers and members of different research communities can be introduced and discuss their (interdisciplinary) research, initially via the easier-to-understand lay summaries and later utilizing these new relationships to improve their research in its formative stage. The summaries will be shared with a wider audience via Mendeley's social media sharing facility. In addition, articles that are not open access will be freely available for three months, and authors are encouraged to share a link to their article via email and social networks.

Jessica Reeves, Head of User Enagagment for Mendeley, said the initiative ties in with Mendeley's aim to "build an engaged community of researchers."

By creating the STM Digest group, we hope to encourage interesting discussions, collaborations and visibility of key issues affecting society through the lay translations shared in this group. Fostering deeper connections amongst researchers and the general public is key to improving engagement with science by making it more accessible.

Mendeley STM Digest Group

What is a Research Ambassador?

Research Ambassadors are early career researchers who will work closely with the publisher and editors of specific Elsevier journals in their area of expertise to monitor accepted papers each month and select the most relevant papers with a policy and/or societal impact focus.

Seeking Research Ambassadors

STM Digest is looking for early career researchers to serve as Research Ambassadors. If you are an active early career researcher interested in getting involved, you can apply here.

After selecting an article, the ambassador will contact the corresponding author to offer to write a "layman translation" of their paper. The author will have final approval of the lay summary.

In the workshops we give, early career researchers often tell us they want to gain experience with publishing and reviewing while establishing a reputation in their areas of expertise. This position is designed to help them become more involved in scientific writing while gaining visibility for their research and connecting with their peers.

Other benefits for Research Ambassadors include:

  • The chance to work closely with journal author, editors, publishers and the Mendeley team
  • Access to new and novel research
  • Full access to ScienceDirect and Scopus
  • Mendeley Premium Account
  • Inclusion in new Mendeley Resources group, with the opportunity to talk with fellow ambassadors and share best practices
  • Priority to contribute to Mendeley blog to profile your layman translations
  • Mendeley will feature impactful translations in their Advisor and Librarian newsletters
  • Stepping stone to become future journal reviewers, authors, Editorial Board members and editors

Boosting article impact for researchers

The quality and quantity of a researcher's publications provide a key measure of their research productivity; however, researchers are increasingly being told that they must not only publish their research but also get their publications acknowledged by other researchers and society at large. Social media has helped noteworthy research reach greater numbers of readers, taking it out of the relatively restricted world of scientific research into wider, more public domain.

Meanwhile, research impact has become an important factor for authors in journal selection and evaluation. Can the research be used by policymakers to increase the effectiveness of public services or policy? Can they demonstrate that their research, paid often from Tax Payers' money, can be used for the greater good?

Publication impact is not only drawn from the citations to the original article; increasingly,  alternative metrics are being used to rate the impact of research, including its reach in social media. Nowadays, getting published is only half the battle. Academic institutions are now asking researchers to demonstrate that a community is building around the research.

With STM Digest, we will monitor success in terms of article downloads and altmetric activity to both the original article and its lay summary. The Mendeley platform enables members to profile and share their research and can also be used as a reference manager and academic social network. Group members can create their own fully searchable library, cite as they write, and read and annotate their PDFs.


Elsevier Connect Contributors

Deirdre DunneDeirdre Dunne has been with Elsevier for 12 years in various publishing roles in Life Sciences,  Social Sciences and now Physical Sciences, where she is Publisher of the Environmental Science & Health journals (@EnvSciHealth). She is passionate about working with authors and early career researchers to disseminate research and connect interdisciplinary communities. She holds many author and reviewer workshops on how to write and review research articles. She is based in Amsterdam.

Donna de Weerd-WilsonDonna de Weerd-Wilson (@dDeWeerd) is Executive Publisher of  Elsevier's Economics journals, based in Amsterdam. Having worked with Elsevier for 16 years in production, product management and publishing roles, serving a variety of different research communities, she is driven by the need to provide researchers, authors and editors with creative solutions to issues they face in their daily working life. To this end, she is constantly thinking of ways to innovate and improve on the products and services we offer.

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