Does my research have an impact? How to use R shiny to track engagement with research

Ever wonder if the report you poured your heart and soul into is being read? Knowing what impact your work has once it has left your desk is important both to stay motivated and to make sure that resources are used appropriately. Every year the Health Foundation produces many high quality research reports for our website and academic journals, but once published the tracking of impact and spread was limited to a quarterly static dashboard. This made it difficult to know whether our attempts to promote our work at events were successful and if our research was being read by others.
In my talk, I will explain how I used R to automate data collection from multiple sources and then combined it into a dashboard. I accessed APIs through R and used web scraping to build a database of information on how many people are accessing and talking about our research. All the data is combined into an R shiny dashboard. The dashboard visualizes data using graphs and tables and users can interact with it and select the reports, authors and time periods that they are interested in and most of the raw data and graphs can be downloaded to be used for other purposes such as presentations. The dashboard is easy to use and people with no experience using R can use it to track our research and tailor our communication strategy. During my talk, I will highlight some of the issues linked to web scraping and querying different APIs within R shiny, as well as covering how I helped non-technical colleagues to understand the beauty of shiny.
The shiny dashboard is a recent development but has been successful so far as it has allowed people to track their research in real time instead of waiting for the quarterly dashboard. We have already gained a few insights, for example an old report that had gained traction on twitter and in the media again which we would have not be aware of without the shiny dashboard. This talk is for anyone who wants to learn more about R shiny and how it can be used to understand the impact of your work.

Emma Vestesson
Data analyst, The Health Foundation

I am an avid R user with with six years of experience working as a data analyst for charities and international organisations. I have a blog where I share my R code ( I am a co-organiser for R ladies London and I have helped organise our first hackathon.