Scholars Seek Better Ways to Track Impact Online

Read the full story in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In academe, the game of how to win friends and influence people is serious business. Administrators and grant makers want proof that a researcher’s work has life beyond the library or the lab.

But the current system of measuring scholarly influence doesn’t reflect the way many researchers work in an environment driven more and more by the social Web. Research that used to take months or years to reach readers can now find them almost instantly via blogs and Twitter.

That kind of activity escapes traditional metrics like the impact factor, which indicates how often a journal is cited, not how its articles are really being consumed by readers.

An approach called altmetrics—short for alternative metrics—aims to measure Web-driven scholarly interactions, such as how often research is tweeted, blogged about, or bookmarked. “There’s a gold mine of data that hasn’t been harnessed yet about impact outside the traditional citation-based impact,” says Dario Taraborelli, a senior research analyst with the Strategy Team at the Wikimedia Foundation and a proponent of the idea.

For more information about altmetrics, read”Altmetrics: A Manifesto” and follow the discussion on Twitter.

About Laura B.

Laura L. Barnes is a librarian at the Prairie Research Institute Library, embedded at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, and writes for Environmental News Bits.
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