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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