Introducing Unpaywall: unlock paywalled research papers as you browse

Last Friday night we tweeted about a new Chrome extension we’ve been working on. It’s called Unpaywall, and it links you to free fulltext as you browse research articles. Hit a paywall? No problem: click the green tab and read it free.

Unpaywall is powered by an index of over ten million legally-uploaded, open-access resources, and it delivers. For example, in a set of 11k recent cancer research articles covered in mainstream media, Unpaywall users were able to read around half of them for free–even without any subscription, and even though most of them were paywalled.

So far the response to Friday’s tweet has been amazing — 500 retweets, and in just a few days we’ve gotten more than 1500 installations: Hockey stick growth!  🙂

 

And we’ve also gotten rave reviews, like this one from Sarah:

Why the excitement?  Finding free, legal, open access is now super easy — it happens automatically.  With the Unpaywall extension, links to open access are automatically available as you browse.

This is useful for researchers like Ethan.  It’s also really helpful for people outside academia, who don’t enjoy the expensive subscription benefits of institutional libraries. This is especially true for nonprofits:

…. and folks working to communicate scholarship to a broader audience:

Go give it a try and see what you think! The official release is April 4th, but you can already  install it, learn more, and follow @unpaywall. We’d love your help to spread the word about Unpaywall to your friends and colleagues. Together we can accelerate toward to a future of full #openaccess for all!

 

 

 

Collaborating on a $635k grant to improve credit for research software

We’re thrilled to announce Impactstory will be collaborating with James Howison at the University of Texas-Austin on a project to improve research software by helping its creators get proper credit for their work. The project will be funded by a three-year, $635k grant from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation.

Research software is an essential component of modern science. But the tradition-bound scholarly credit system does not appropriately reward the academic unsung heroes who create research software, putting further development of software-intensive science in jeopardy. Even when software is mentioned, the mentions are often informal, such as URLs in footnotes or just names in text. Howison, working with doctoral student Julia Bullard, found that 63% of mentions in a random sample of 90 biology articles were informal (Howison and Bullard, 2014).

We’re going to help fix that.

We’ll be working with James and his lab to make a huge database of every research software project used in every paper in the biomedicine, astronomy, and economics literatures. This database will filled in using a deep learning system that’ll automatically extract both formal and informal mentions of software, after being trained on a large, manually-coded gold standard dataset.

We’ll use this database to build and study three cool prototype tools:

  • CiteSuggest will analyze submitted text or code and make recommendations for normalized citations using the software author’s preferred citation,
  • CiteMeAs will help software producers make clear requests for their preferred citations, and
  • Software Impactstory will help software authors demonstrate the scholarly impact of their software in the literature.

We believe these tools will help transform the scholarly reward system into one where where software is a first-class research products, and its authors get full academic credit for their work. This in turn will support the software-intensive open science system we need for the future.

The project will build on our experience creating Depsy, a platform to track the scholarly impact of Python and R packages with an emphasis on dependencies, and on James’ extensive experience researching development in open source software and software in science. For lots more detail on the whole thing, check out the submitted proposal (edit Nov 9, 2016:  note this document is not a complete representation of the proposal, since the application and approval process also involved confidential back and forth with reviewers.  The reviewers added great comments and insight that we’re incorporating into the work as we go forward.)

Thank you, Sloan.  Thanks to Program Director Josh Greenberg for his continued advice and encouragement, and to the grant reviewers for well-informed and helpful feedback. And thanks especially to James, who had this idea in the first place, brought us on board, and has been a patient, good-natured, and ingenious collaborator in a lot of hard work already. We can’t wait to get started!

Data-driven decisions with Net Promoter Score


Today we’re releasing some changes in the way users sign up for Impactstory profiles, based on research we’ve done to learn more about our users. It’s a great opportunity to share a little about what we learned, and to describe the process we used to do this research–both to add some transparency around our decision making, and to maybe help folks looking to do the same sorts of things. There’s lots to share, so let’s get to it:

Meet the Net Promoter Score

As part of our journey to find product-market fit for the Impactstory webapp, we’ve become big fans of the Net Proscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-7-26-10-pmmoter Score (NPS), an increasingly popular way to assess how much value users are getting from one’s product. It’s appealingly simple: we ask users to rank how likely they’d be to recommend Impactstory to a colleague, on a scale of 1-10, and why. Answers of 9-10 are Promoters, from 1-6 are Detractors. You subtract %detractors from %supporters and there’s your score.

It’s a useful score. It doesn’t measure how much users like you. It doesn’t measure how much they generally support the idea of what you’re doing. It measures how much you are solving real problems for real users, right now. Solving those problems so well that users will put their own reputation on the line and sing your praises to their friends.

Until we’re doing that, we don’t have product-market fit, we aren’t truly making something people want, and we don’t have a sustainable business. Same as any startup.

As a nonprofit, we’ve got lots of people who support what we’re doing and (correctly!) see that we’re solving a huge problem for academia as a whole. So they’ve got lots of good things to say to us. Which: yay. That’s fuel and we love it. But it can disguise the fact that we may not be solving their personal problems. We need to get at that signal, to help us find that all-important product-market fit.

Getting the data

We used Promoter.io to manage creating, sending, and collecting emails surveys. It just works and it saved us a ton of time. We recommend it.  Our response rate was 28%, which is we figure pretty good for asking help via email from people who don’t know you or owe you anything, and without pestering them with any reminders. We sliced and diced users along many dimensions but they all had about the same response rate, which improves robustness of the findings. Since we assume users who have no altmetrics will hate the app, we only sent surveys to users with relatively complete profiles (at least three Impactstory badges).

Once we had responses, we followed up using Intercom, an app that nicely integrates most of our customer communication (feedback, support, etc). We got lots more qualitative feedback this way.

Once we had all our data, we exported the results into a spreadsheet and had us some Pivot Table Fun Time. Here’s the raw data in Google Docs (with identifying attributes removed to protect privacy) in case you’d like to dive into the data yourself.

Finally, we exported loads of user data from our Postgres app database hosted on Heroku. All that got added into the spreadsheet and pivot tables as well.

Here’s what we found

The overall NPS is 26, which is not amazing. But it is good. And encouragingly, it’s much better than we got when we surveyed users about our old, non-free version in March. Getting better is a good sign. We’ll take it.

Users who have made profiles in both versions (new and old) seem to agree. The overall NPS for these users was 58, which is quite strong. In fact, users of the old version were the group with the highest NPS overall in this survey. Since we made a lot of changes in the new app from the old, this wouldn’t have to have been true. It made us happy.

But we wanted more actionable results. So we sliced and diced everyone into subgroups along several dimensions, looking for features that can predict extra-high NPS in future sign-ups.

We found four of these predictive features. As it happens, each predictor changes the NPS of its group by the same amount: your NPS (on average) goes from 15 (ok) to 35 (good) if you

  1. have a Twitter account,
  2. have more than 20 online mentions of some kind (Tweets, Wikipedia, Pinterest, whatever) pointing to your publications,
  3. have made more than 55% of your publications green or gold open access, or
  4. have been awarded more than 6 Impactstory badges.

Of these, (4) is not super useful since it covaries a lot with numbers of mentions (2) and OA percentage (3); after all, we give out badges for both those things. A bit more surprisingly, users who have Twitter are likely to have more mentions per product, and less likely to have blank profiles, meaning Feature 1 accounts for some of the variance in Feature 2. So simply having a Twitter account is one of our best signals that you’ll love Impactstory.

Surprisingly, having a well-stocked ORCID profile with lots of your works in it doesn’t seem to predict a higher NPS score at all. This was unexpected because we figured the kind of scholcomm enthusiasts who keep their ORCID records scrupulously up-to-date would be more likely to dig the kind of thing we’re doing with Impactstory. Plus they’d have an easier and faster time setting up a profile since their data is super easy for us to import. Good to have the data.

About 60% of response included qualitative feedback. Analysing these, we found three themes:

  • It should include citations. Makes sense users would want this, given that citations are the currency of academia and all. Alas they ain’t gonna get it, not till someone comes out with a open and complete citation database. Our challenge is to help users be less bummed about this, hopefully be positioning Impactstory as a complement to indexes like Google Scholar rather than a competitor.
  • It’s pretty. That’s good to hear, especially since we want folks to share their profiles, make them part of their online identity. That’s way easier if you think it looks sharp.
  • It’s easy. Also great to hear, because the last version was not very easy, mostly as a result of feature bloat. It hurt to lose some features on this version, so it’s good to see the payoff was there.
  • It puts everything all in one place.  Presumably users were going to multiple places to gather all the altmetrics data that Impactstory puts in one spot. 

Here’s what we did

The most powerful takeway from all this was that users who have Twitter get more out of Impactstory and like it more. And that makes sense…scholars with Twitter are more likely be into this whole social media thing, and (in our experience talking with lots of researchers) more ready to believe altmetrics could be a useful tool.

So, we’ll redouble our focus on these users.

The way we’re doing that concretely right away is by changing the signup wizard to start with a “signup with Twitter” button. That’s a big deal because it means you’ll need a Twitter account to sign up, and therefore excludes some potential users. That’s a bummer.

But it’s excluding users who, statistically, are among the least likely to love the app. And it’s making it easier to sign up for the users that are loving Impactstory the most, and most keen to recommend us. That means better word of mouth, a better viral coefficient, and a chance to test a promising hypothesis for achieving product-market fit.

We’re also going to be looking at adding more Twitter-specific features like analysing users’ tweeted content and follower lists. More on that later.

To take advantage of our open-access predictor, we’ll be working hard to reach out to the open access community…we’re already having great informal talks with folks at SPARC and with the OA Button, and are reaching out in other ways as well. More on that later, too.

We’re excited about this approach to user-driven development. It’s something we’ve always valued, but often had a tough time implementing because it has seemed a bit daunting. And honestly, it is a bit daunting. It took a ton of time, and it takes a surprising amount of mental energy to be open-minded in a way that makes the feedback actionable. But overall we’re really pleased with the process, and we’re going to be doing it more, along with these kinds of blog posts to improve the transparency decision-making. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Why researchers are loving the new Impactstory

We put our heart and soul into the new Impactstory and have been on pins and needles to hear what you think.  Well it’s been a week and the verdict is in — we’re hearing that the new version is awesome, fantastic, and truly excellent, a home run and must-have–an academic profile that’s exciting and relevant.

And so much more. So much more, in fact, that we wanted to a little break from the frenzied responding, bugfixing, and feature-launching we’ve been doing this week and summarize a bit of what we’ve heard.

What do you like?

A lot of users have appreciated that it now takes seconds and is super easy to set up a profile that’s blazing fast and smooth to use: it’s instant insights about your research.

Unlike speed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder–but our beholders seem delightfully agreed that our new look is great, great, great.  Whether users are calling it fresh or beautifully crafted, or sleek or smooth or snazzy, everyone seems to agree that the new version looks awesome, it looks pretty damn awesome. And we are pretty thrilled to hear that.

They’re enjoying that it’s got some fun 🙂 And, we’re not surprised to hear that people like the new price point of Free, making it easier to recommend to others.  

What’s it good for?

Impactstory helps researchers find impacts of their work beyond just citations. People have found mentions they didn’t know about on Wikipedia, discussion in cool blog posts, and reviews on Faculty of 1000. And not just numbers, but impact across the globe. Not just numbers but connecting with people: for instance user Peter van Heusden tweeted, “Using @Impactstory I discovered someone who is consistently promoting work I’m involved in, but who I had no idea existed!”

All this amounts to more than just a lovely ego boost (although it’s that too!). People are telling us that it’s motivating them to adopt more Open Science practices like uploading research slides to a proper repository, getting an ORCID, adding works to their ORCID profile, and celebrating their non-paper publications.

How are you using it?

People are already sending their Impactstory profiles to their funders, and their funders are loving them.  Researchers have added their new profile to their CV, and are planning on using Impactstory data to define innovative ‘pathway to impact’ for UK grants and in tenure and promotion packets.

Folks are including it in workshops.  And even better — building things with our open data! Check out the ferret.io plugin, it rolled out impactstory support this week and it’s really cool 🙂

What have we been doing?

We’ve made a bunch of changes this week in response to your feedback:

  • imports all your publications, not just DOIs.  Everything on your ORCID profile now displays in your Impactstory profile, and we’re working on getting more openness and altmetrics data
  • twitter integration
    • connecting twitter updates your profile pic so you don’t have to fight with gravatar
    • you don’t have to enter email manually–even faster signup
    • we’ll be using your twitter feed for achievements in the future
  • there’s a new Open Sesame achievement
  • we changed the scores at the top of the profile beside your picture; they are now counts of your achievements
  • the achievements and the import process are better documented
  • we rolled out dozens of smaller features, usability enhancements, and bugfixes.

What’s next?

We’re on our way to the FORCE16 conference this week.  We’ll be rolling the feedback from the conference along with your continued feedback into continued improvement to the app.

And you?  Join in with everyone showing off their profile, spread the word (this is how we will grow), and if you don’t have a profile, get one, and tell us what you think!

Finally, thanks.

Finally, we’d like to thank the hundreds of passionate people who have helped us with money and with moral support along the way, from our early days till now. It’s safe to say the new Impactstory is a big hit.  It’s our hit, together.

 

The new Impactstory: Better. Freer.

We are releasing a new version of Impactstory!

https://impactstory.org/u/0000-0001-6728-7745

https://impactstory.org/u/0000-0001-6728-7745

We baked what we’ve learned from hundreds of conversations with researchers into a sleeker, leaner, more useful Impactstory.

Our new Achievements showcase your meaningful accomplishments, not just counts. Our new three-part score helps you track your buzz, engagement, and openness. And next-generation notification emails are improved to tell you what you want to know reliably every week.

And of course we’ve got a slew of other new features as well, including Depsy integration, ORCID sync-on-demand, and full support for mobile.

What’s more, we’re simplifying and streamlining everywhere, eliminating little-used features and doubling down on what users have told us they love. Profile creation is now only via ORCID, we only deal in DOIs, and citation metrics are gone. As a result, creating a profile takes just seconds, our support for diverse research products (preprints, datasets, etc) is bulletproof, and metrics are now consistently clear and up-to-date. Along with a complete code rewrite, these changes make Impactstory faster and more reliable than it’s ever been.

Last but not least, not only are we making Impactstory better: we’re making it cheaper. As in, all the way cheaper. Free!

Why? We heard you love the idea, but not the price–largely because your disciplines or departments aren’t quite ready to use altmetrics for evaluation. We can see this is starting to change, and want to help that change happen as quickly as possible. That means letting as many researchers as possible engage with altmetrics, right now. Free helps that happen.

Alternative sustainability models (like freemium features and new grants) will allow us to continue to build and maintain tools like Impactstory and Depsy to help change how researchers think about understanding and measuring the influence of their work.

Sound good? It is. We think you’ll love it. Go make yourself a profile and see what you learn: https://impactstory.org (and if you’re a current impactstory subscriber check your email for migration details).

We think this new Impactstory the best thing we’ve ever done, and it’s a big step towards creating the open science, altmetrics-powered future we believe in. Thanks building that future with us. We’re looking forward to hearing what you think!

Let’s value the software that powers science: Introducing Depsy

Today we’re proud to officially launch Depsy, an open-source webapp that tracks research software impact.

We made Depsy to solve a problem:  in modern science, research software is often as important as traditional research papers–but it’s not treated that way when it comes to funding and tenure. There, the traditional publish-or-perish, show-me-the-Impact-Factor system still rules.

We need to fix that. We need to provide meaningful incentives for the scientist-developers who make important research software, so that we can keep doing important, software-driven science.

Lots of things have to happen to support this change. Depsy is a shot at making one of those things happen: a system that tracks the impact of software in software-native ways.

That means not just counting up citations to a hastily-written paper about the software, but actual mentions of the software itself in the literature. It means looking how software gets reused by other software, even when it’s not cited at all. And it means understanding the full complexity of software authorship, where one project can involve hundreds of contributors in multiple roles that don’t map to traditional paper authorship.

Ok, this sounds great, but how about some specifics. Check out these examples:

  • GDAL is a geoscience library. Depsy finds this cool NASA-funded ice map paper that mentions GDAL without formally citing it. Also check out key author Even Rouault: the project commit history demonstrates he deserves 27% credit for GDAL, even though he’s overlooked in more traditional credit systems.
  • lubridate improves date handling for R. It’s not highly-cited, but we can see it’s making a different kind of impact: it’s got a very high dependency PageRank, because it’s reused by over 1000 different R projects on GitHub and CRAN.
  • BradleyTerry2 implements a probability technique in R. It’s only directly reused by 8 projects—but Depsy shows that one of those projects is itself highly reused, leading to huge indirect impacts. This indirect reuse gives BradleyTerry2 a very high dependency PageRank score, even though its direct reuse is small, and that makes for a better reflection of real-world impact.
  • Michael Droettboom makes small (under 20%) contributions to other people’s research software, contributions easy to overlook. But the contributions are meaningful, and they’re to high-impact projects, so in Depsy’s transitive credit system he ends up as a highly-ranked contributor. Depsy can help unsung heroes like Micheal get rewarded.
     

Depsy doesn’t do a perfect job of finding citations, tracking dependencies, or crediting authors (see our in-progress paper for more details on limitations). It’s not supposed to. Instead, Depsy is a proof-of-concept to show that we can do them at all. The data and tools are there. We can measure and reward software impact, like we measure and reward the impact of papers.

Embed impact badges in your GitHub README

Given that, it’s not a question of if research software becomes a first-class scientific product, but when and how. Let’s start having the conversations about when and how (here are some great places for that). Let’s improve Depsy, let’s build systems better than Depsy, and let’s (most importantly) start building the cultural and political structures that can use these systems.

For lots more details about Depsy, check out the paper we’re writing (and contribute!), and of course Depsy itself. We’re still in the early stages of this project, and we’re excited to hear your feedback: hit us up on twitter, in the comments below, or in the Hacker News thread about this post.

Depsy is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
edit nov 15 2015: change embed image to match new badge

Farewell to Stacy

We’ve made a lot of happy announcements here on our blog, but today we’re making a sad one: Friday was Stacy’s last day at Impactstory. We’re eliminating our Director of Marketing position, because we need to focus significantly less on marketing and significantly more on finding product-market fit. We’re at a point where we must double down on understanding our users’ needs, and building the product it takes to meet them.

Stacy accomplished amazing things at Impactstory.  Here are just a few:

  • Turned our blog into the top source of information on altmetrics (not just our opinion…we’ve had lots of folks tell us this) for thousands of readers
  • Authored a terrific free e-book on how to raise the profile of scholars’ research
  • Created and ran our successful Advisor program, which is now comprised of researchers and librarians from all over the world
  • Quintupled our followers on Twitter

Stacy is amazing. She’s smart, thorough, engaging, and a terrific combination of idealistic and practical. We’re so proud to have worked beside her.

Impactstory is going to move forward. We’re going to keep learning, keep improving, and we’re ultimately going to transform the world of scholarly communication–thanks in part to the great work that Stacy’s done. That’ll happen. But today, we miss our teammate, and our friend.

 

PS If you want to hire someone awesome, drop Stacy a line at stacykonkiel@fastmail.fm. Drop us a line and we’ll tell you in more detail just how awesome she is.

 

Open Science & Altmetrics Monthly Roundup (January 2015)

2015 kicked off with good news about Nature Publishing Group’s increased commitment towards Open Access, the launch of Frontiers’ research impact social network, Loop, and seven more cool developments in the world of Open Science and altmetrics. Read on!

Nature Publishing Group’s OA journals go CC-BY

Twenty Open Access journals published by Nature Publishing Group recently made the move to offering CC-BY by default. Previously, CC-BY-NC was the default license available for most NPG OA journals, and many authors had to pay higher article processing charges to use a CC-BY license. We applaud this move, which was one of many towards Open Access that NPG made in 2014. For more information, read Claire Calder’s recap of her team’s efforts on the Of Schemes and Memes blog.

How to pay for Gold Open Access fees, even if you’re not well-funded

Self-described “scientific have-not” Zen Faulkes recently blogged about the many strategies he uses to pay for the article processing charges (APCs) his Open Access publications incur.  They include: finding OA journals that waive APCs, petitioning his department chair, and sometimes asking co-authors at other institutions to cover the costs. It’s a great read for anyone concerned about making their work Open Access who lacks grant funding to cover the fees. Read the full list on Dr. Zen’s blog.

Elsevier acquires news monitoring service NewsFlo

Elsevier announced their acquisition of NewsFlo this month. The news monitoring service–which mines over 50,000 news outlets for mentions of research articles–will be integrated into reference management and social bookmarking site Mendeley. This partnership will pave the way for new altmetrics reports for articles and other content added to the platform. Currently, Altmetric.com is the only altmetrics aggregator that reports mainstream media mentions. More information on the acquisition can be found on TechCrunch.

Other open science & research metrics news

  • Altmetrics strategy meeting recap available for all to read: In December, altmetrics researchers and organizations from around the world convened at the PLOS headquarters in San Francisco to discuss ways to improve metrics for all. A report of the meeting’s results is now available on Figshare.

  • Frontiers launches new research impact social network, Loop: Loop is designed to bring together download and pageview metrics from a variety of publisher and academic websites into a researcher-centered profile. (Currently, these metrics are only sourced from Nature Publishing Group and Frontiers journals.) Researchers can follow each others’ profiles to get updates on new publications, and authors’ research networks (sourced from article co-author lists) can be easily explored. The free service plans to monetize in the future by possibly selling ads or selling its users’ data to advertisers. You can learn more about the service on the Loop website.

  • The many ways in which researchers use the scientific literature (hint: it ain’t only about citations): Paleontologist Andy Farke shared how he uses articles in his day-to-day work, and (not surprisingly) “citing in his own papers” isn’t high on the list. Instead, he uses articles to inform his teaching, when reviewing manuscripts, to help prepare him for talking to the public and the media about newly published studies, and more. So why then does academia value citations over the other ways we can measure articles’ use? Read Andy’s full list on his blog.

  • Impactstory Advisor of the Month, Chris Chan, on the library’s role in scholcomm innovations: We recently chatted with Chris on his work to bring ORCID to his campus, and what he thinks all librarians should do to foster the adoption of emerging scholarly communication technologies at their universities. Read the full interview on the Impactstory blog.

  • New resources available for librarians interested in altmetrics: We recently published two LibGuides (one for researchers and one for librarians) that can help librarians do altmetrics outreach at their university. We’re also now hosting virtual “office hours”, where librarians can message Stacy (our Director of Marketing & Research who’s also an academic librarian) to chat and ask questions about altmetrics and Impactstory. And for those in search of altmetrics professional development opportunities, Library Juice Academy is hosting an altmetrics & bibliometrics course.

  • 85% of research data is uncited & only 4-9% have altmetrics: a new study digs deep into citations and altmetrics for research data. Read the full study on Arxiv.

Want updates like these as-they-happen? Follow us on Twitter! In addition to open science and altmetrics news, you can also get Impactstory news–the only altmetrics non-profit.

Steal these altmetrics LibGuides!

Screenshot of the "Ultimate Guide to Altmetrics (Librarian Edition)" libguide page

We’re pleased to announce yet another altmetrics resource for librarians: ready-to-reuse altmetrics LibGuides!

As an academic librarian, I know how hard it can be to find and compile timely, trustworthy resources on a topic like altmetrics. That’s why I’ve created two altmetrics LibGuides, now available for reuse under a CC-BY 4.0 license.

These “Ultimate Guides to Altmetrics” can help researchers and librarians better understand the benefits to (and limitations of) altmetrics. They include:

  • Examples of ways that researchers have used altmetrics in their CVs and for tenure and grants

  • Up-to-date tutorials on finding citation counts and altmetrics for articles, books, data, software, and more

  • Detailed comparisons of Altmetric.com, Impactstory, and PlumX

  • Curated videos, handouts, presentations, and other librarian-created altmetrics outreach materials

These are among the most up-to-date, comprehensive altmetrics LibGuides currently available. Check them out, I think you’ll agree:

The Ultimate Guide to Altmetrics (Researcher Edition)

The Ultimate Guide to Altmetrics (Librarian Edition)

Reuse these LibGuides at your own library or pass them along to a colleague. And please do let me know if you have questions or suggestions for improvements (team@impactstory.org).

Open Science & Altmetrics Monthly Roundup (December 2014)

In this month’s roundup: a university allegedly attempts to hire its way to the top of the rankings, NISO’s altmetrics initiative enters its next phase, and seven other ways December was an interesting month for Open Science and altmetrics. Read on!

An altmetrics-flavored look back at 2014

What were the most popular articles of 2014? Altmetric.com let us know with their year-end roundup, which detailed the 100 most shared and discussed scholarly articles of 2014. At the top of the list was the controversial “emotional contagion” study co-authored by Facebook researchers. See more highlights on the full list, and download the full altmetrics data for the study on Figshare.

Did our altmetrics predictions for 2014 come true? Back in February, we wagered some bets on how the field would evolve throughout 2014, and as expected we got some right and some wrong. Probably our biggest win? That more researchers would become empowered to show the world how they’re winning by using altmetrics. Our biggest miss? Sadly, that altmetrics did not become more “open”.

University criticized for alleged attempts to hire its way to the top of rankings

The Daily Cal reports that staff from King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia recently contacted several University of California professors with opportunities to be hired as “distinguished adjunct professors.” Respected researchers are regularly contacted with job opportunities, but this was different, according to the article:

“KAU offered [Jonathan Eisen] $72,000 per year and free business-class airfare and five-star hotel stays for him to visit KAU in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia…In exchange, Eisen was told he would be expected to work on collaborations with KAU local researchers and also update his Thomson Reuters’ highly cited researcher listing to include a KAU affiliation. He would also be expected to occasionally publish some scientific journal articles with the Saudi university’s name attached.”

Eisen and other scientists interviewed suggest that their high citation rates are at the heart of KAU’s interest, as their affiliation with KAU would boost the university’s international rankings. Read more on The Daily Cal.

NISO votes to create standards for altmetrics

NISO approved Phase 2 of the organization’s altmetrics initiative in December, which will include the creation of standards and recommended practices on the following:

Phase 2 of the project will be to develop standards or recommended practices in the prioritized areas of definitions, calculation methodologies, improvement of data quality, and use of persistent identifiers in alternative metrics. As part of each project, relevant use cases and how they apply to different stakeholder groups will be developed.

This should come as no surprise to those who’ve been following NISO-related altmetrics developments. In September, NISO released results from their community survey, which showed more concern with standards and definitions than issues like gaming.

Want to have a voice in altmetrics standards development? Join any of NISO’s four working groups before 1 Feb., 2015. More information can be found on the NISO website.

We’ll be watching future developments with interest, as any standards and recommended practices developed will affect the way we and other altmetrics aggregators collect, display, and archive altmetrics data in Impactstory profiles.

Other altmetrics & open science news

  • ArXiv hits the 1 million paper milestone: Nature News reports that one of the world’s most famous and respected preprint servers, ArXiv, is now home to more than 1 million articles and receives 10 million download requests per month. Incredibly, ArXiv manages to make this treasure-trove of scholarly information freely available to the public at a cost of less than $10 per paper–much less than the reported $50 million per year it takes to operate Science. For an overview of ArXiv’s history, check out Nature News.

  • New altmetrics studies confirm that citations don’t correlate with quality (or do they?), OA publications get more downloads & more: Five studies of interest to the altmetrics community were publicized in December. They included a study that shows a lack of correlation between citations and quality (as measured by expert peer review); another, conflicting study that may hold the “secret sauce” formula for turning citations into indicators of quality; a study that found–yet again–that Open Access publications receive more downloads; the results of one conference’s experiment with peer review, which showed that peer review is “close to random” in terms of what reviewers agree to accept and reject; and a paper on “negative links,” which may have future applications for context-aware altmetrics.

  • Meet Open Science champion and Impactstory Advisor Dr. Lorena Barba: We recently interviewed Lorena to learn more about her lab’s Open Science manifesto, her research in computational methods in aeronautics and biophysics, and George Washington University’s first Massive Open Online Course, “Practical Numerical Methods with Python”. To read more about her work, visit the Impactstory blog.

  • Altmetrics can help measure attention and influence for education-oriented journal articles: PLOS Computational Biology recently shared a thoughtful perspective on an editorial titled, “An Online Bioinformatics Curriculum.” To look at citations to the 2012 paper, you’d think it wasn’t a success–but you’d be wrong. PLOS’s article-level metrics show that the editorial has been viewed over 77,000 times, bookmarked more than 300 times, and has received a great deal of attention on social media. It’s just one more example of ways in which altmetrics can measure attention and influence of scholarship beyond those traditionally valued.

  • Nature takes a lot of heat for its experiment in free-to-access–but not Open Access–journal articles: Nature Publishing Group announced its intent to offer free access to articles in many of its journals over the next year. The plan allows those with subscription access to an article to generate a link that will allow others to read the article for free–but not download or copy the article’s content. Many scientists criticized the move, pointing out the many restrictions that are placed on content shared. We also shared our concerns, particularly with respect to the negative effects the program could have on altmetrics. But many scientists also lauded Nature’s experiment, and shared their appreciation for NPG’s attempt to make content more accessible. To learn more, check out Timo Hannay’s blog and John Wilbank’s thoughts on “Nature’s Shareware Moment.”

  • Impactstory’s “30-Day Impact Challenge” released as an ebook: To download a free copy of our new ebook based on the popular November Impact Challenge, visit our blog. You can also purchase a copy for your Kindle.

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