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Postby mgcrisp » Sun Aug 10, 2014 12:17 pm

altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship.

Read the altmetrics manifesto here:
Michael G. Crisp

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Re: Altmetrics

Postby DaFinchi » Thu Aug 14, 2014 3:01 pm

Earlier this year, I downloaded some software to query their database and requested an Altmetrics API. They're very friendly, helpful and keen to get their data out there - I even seem to remember a suggestion that their bulk data might be available for analysis. The system was highly intuitive and easy to use.

Ultimately, there are a few challenges with using Altmetrics for research evaluation - none of them insurmountable, but all cause for caution.

1) Normalisation. Without subject categorisation, document typology and year metadata, or access to the entire dataset, it's difficult to build a picture of what is good performance for a certain publication of a certain type from a certain subject in a certain year.

2) Consistency. Altmetrics are very new and coverage in the Altmetrics database is still growing (rapidly); longitudinal analyses are therefore currently unreliable.

3) Manipulation. It is hard to manipulate citation statistics, unless you use Google Scholar; even the most obvious route, self-citation, seemingly accounts for a relatively small share of citation activity and is not increasing. It relies on all the work involved in getting an article published in a citation-indexed journal. But social media attention is as easy to manipulate as producing a blog or a tweet; and unlike 'click parties' hypothesised to interfere with download counting, only a few hits would be required to make a big difference to the total counts.

4) Meaning. It's clear from a number of analyses (including my own) that social media hits correlate poorly with citation counts (though highly cited research often has a high social media presence). I think we need a little more time to see what a high social media influence actually means. Does it in any way relate to the quality, impact or importance of research or is it more a measure of public interest - the capacity to capture the imagination?
Adam Finch

Disclosure: I work as an analyst in Science Excellence for CSIRO. Any opinions are expressed as a private individual and may not reflect the official perspective of CSIRO.
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