This special issue of Research Trends is dedicated to altmetrics, or, as some may prefer, alternative metrics. The growing interest in the development of alternative measurements of scientific productivity resulted in the 2010 Altmetrics manifesto in which the term “altmetrics” was introduced. The manifesto notes that “in growing numbers, scholars are moving their everyday work to the web”, and that new online tools “reflect and transmit scholarly impact”. This “forms a composite trace of impact far richer than any available before; we call the elements of this trace altmetrics”.
In his historical account, Mike Thelwall covers the use of social web services. He dedicates attention to Mendeley and Twitter. He also underlines the need to further validate altmetrics, by investigating the degree to which they correlate with – or predict – citation counts and other traditional measures. Ron Daniel addresses the issue of how past citation prediction studies showed so little consistency in their results, and indicates the potential of altmetrics. Hadas Shema introduces another promising altmetric data source: scholarly blogs.
The rapid ICT development is a first principal driver of new metrics in general. It is not only reflected in the emergence of social web services, but also, for instance, in the further digitalization of scientific information. Electronic user log files of publication archives provide traces of another aspect of scholars’ everyday work, namely their literature browsing and perhaps their reading behavior. In this sense, indicators of full text downloads of scholarly publications can be conceived as altmetrics as well.
A team of 5 researchers headed by Christian Schlögl interprets correlations between citation, full text download and readership data in terms of the degree in overlap between the user communities of the three systems from which data was extracted. Vicente P. Guerrero-Bote and Félix Moya-Anegón also examine statistical correlations between downloads and citations. They focus on the role of publication language, and analyze less visible journals publishing in languages other than English and clearly show how the two types of measures are complementary – one type may reveal patterns that are invisible in the other. As Euan Adie outlines in his contribution, another aspect of digitalization is that more and more grey literature including pre-prints and policy documents become available for research and as a source for new metrics. However, in a discussion with Mike Taylor, Juan Pablo Alperin warns that differences in access to new technology exist between scientifically developing and developed countries that can have negative implications for the former group of countries even in altmetrics research.
A second principal driver of the development of new metrics is the Open Science movement, directed towards making scientific research, data, and dissemination accessible to all levels of an inquiring society, whether amateur or professional. Perhaps the base notions of this movement can be characterized as expressions of the fundamental ethos of science in a digital or computerized age. As William Gunn explains, research funding agencies seek to maximize the potential of their funded outputs including papers, methods, and data. This urges us to develop new metrics of reuse that go beyond classical citations.
This brings us to a third driver: the research policy domain. This is also clearly reflected in the contribution by Judit Bar-Ilan who introduces the portfolio concept developed in the ACUMEN project (Academic Careers Understood through Measurement and Norms) funded by the European Commission, aimed at “studying and proposing alternative and broader ways of measuring the productivity and performance of individual researchers”. The author shows how online and social media presence and altmetrics are well represented in the expertise, output and influence sub-portfolios.
We believe the contributions in this Special Issue cover the major trends in the development of new metrics, and are written by leading researchers in the field. We hope you will enjoy reading them.
Please share your thoughts and feedback with us. You can do this in the comments section following each article on our website or by sending us an email Kind regards,
Mike Taylor, Gali Halevi and Henk F. Moed
The common theme of this issue of Research Trends is Research Assessment and Evaluation. This issue’s contributions all illustrate that bibliometric or informetric indicators are useful tools in the assessment of research, and in some cases how new metrics are being explored.
In the opening article Gali Halevi and I provide an overview of the various quantitative approaches to research assessment that are currently in use, which is followed by a number of contributions that focus on research assessment and evaluation from different angles. Sander van Servellen and Ikuko Oba, for example, present a study on a particular research field: stem cell research, while Gali Halevi interviews Dr. Daphne Getz on the way national research evaluation is carried out in Israel, by the Samuel Neaman Institute.
In their piece, Andrew Plume and Judith Kamalski discuss how new research methods using download data can be used in national research assessment in an international context. In another article on new research methods, Mike Taylor and Andrew Plume explore the potentials of “altmetrics”. They show that developing a good new metric is a complex process that involves the collection of accurate data, definition of a statistically sound metric, thorough validation, and a close interaction with users.
Finally, February 28th is Rare Disease Day, an international advocacy day to help raise awareness for rare diseases. In honour of this day, Iris Kisjes used SciVal to examine publication trends in the field of rare disease management.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue. Please share your thoughts and feedback with us! You can do this in the comments section following each article on our website or by sending us an email (email@example.com). We look forward to hearing from you!
Dr. Henk F. Moed
This issue contains five articles that provide a bibliometric view of scientifically developing countries from different angles. First, Sarah Huggett reveals how these countries are scientifically maturing, while Ylann Schlemm discusses how the availability of scientific literature has a positive effect on this development. Gali Halevi shows how developing countries participate in international research networks and in a second piece, how approaches originating from them have had and still have a great impact on modern science. Finally Daphne van Weijen explains how authors from developing countries may overcome language obstacles to publication.
From a bibliometric point of view, the pieces illustrate the potential usefulness of publication trend analysis for the identification of emerging scientific institutions, of co-authorship relationships for the study of international collaboration networks, and of keyword analysis in large publication databases to identify cognitive influences from one field upon the other.
This issue also contains a sixth article, by Mike Taylor, on the development and use of new types of metrics denoted as altmetrics, an entity which is fast maturing into a new scientific (sub) discipline. This discussion paper is a prelude for a special issue of Research Trends dedicated to this topic next year.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue. Please share your thoughts and feedback with us! You can do this in the comments section following each article on our website or by sending us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Dr. Henk F. Moed