Open Science & Altmetrics Monthly Roundup (June 2014)

Don’t have time to stay on top of the most important Open Science and Altmetrics news? We’ve gathered the very best of the month in this post. Read on!

UK researchers speak out on assessment metrics

There are few issues more polarizing in academia right now than research assessment metrics. A few months back, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) asked researchers to submit their evidence and views on the issue, and to date many well-reasoned responses have been shared.

Some of the highlights include Ernesto Priego’s thoughtful look at the evidence for and against; this forceful critique of the practice, penned by Sabaratnam and Kirby; a call to accept free market forces “into the internal dynamics of academic knowledge production” by Steve Fuller; and this post by Stephen Curry, who shares his thoughts as a member of the review’s steering group.

Also worth a look is Digital Science’s “Evidence for excellence: has the signal overtaken the substance?”, which studies the unintended effects that past UK assessment initiatives have had on researchers’ publishing habits.

Though the HEFCE’s recommendations will mainly affect UK researchers, the steering group’s findings may set a precedent for academics worldwide.

Altmetrics researchers agree: we know how many, now we need to know why

Researchers gathered in Bloomington, Indiana on June 23 to share cutting-edge bibliometrics and altmetrics research at the ACM WebScience Altmetrics14 workshop.

Some of the highlights include a new study that finds that only 6% of articles that appear in Brazilian journals have 1 or more altmetrics (compared with ~20% of articles published in the “global North”); findings that use of Twitter to share scholarly articles grew by more than 90% from 2012 to 2013; a study that found that most sharing of research articles on Twitter occurs in original tweets, not retweets; and a discovery that more biomedical and “layman” terms appear in the titles of research shared on social media than in titles of highly-cited research articles.

Throughout the day, presenters repeatedly emphasized one point: high-quality qualitative research is now needed to understand what motivates individuals to share, bookmark, recommend, and cite research outputs. In other words, we increasingly know how many altmetrics research outputs tend to accumulate and what those metrics’ correlations are–now we need to know why research is shared on the social Web in the first place, and how those motivations influence various flavors of impact.

Librarians promoting altmetrics like never before

This month’s Impactstory blog post, “4 things every librarian should do with altmetrics,” has generated a lot of buzz and some great feedback from the library community. But it’s just one part of a month filled with librarians doin’ altmetrics!

To start with, College & Research Libraries News named altmetrics a research library trend for 2014, and based on just the explosion of librarian-created presentations on altmetrics in the last 30 days alone, we’re inclined to agree! Plus, there were librarians repping altmetrics at AAUP’s Annual Meeting and the American Library Association Annual Meeting (here and here), and the Special Libraries Association Annual Meeting featured our co-founder, Heather Piwowar, in two great sessions and Impactstory board member, John Wilbanks, as the keynote speaker.

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