As a research community, we have long gone hungry for ways to assess research. With journal-based evaluation, we were feeding off of flies – perfect for a frog but not enough for a researcher. Today, we have entered into the golden era of the Altmetrics Grocery Store, filled with a diversity of fresh produce.
The dangers of going shopping when hungry are tried and true. But there’s no need to wander the grocery store once you have directions to the food you need. We can erect signs in the aisles to figure out where to go and what to buy. We can develop standard categories for the growing set of altmetrics to give us the right – i.e., best suited for our particular need – measurements of the type of impact for the research outputs at hand.
What is in a category? First, it would subdivide the metrics into like components. Secondly, it would inform the most appropriate use of the new metrics in a way that is prudent and apropos to the activity captured. And thirdly, the classifications overall provide a cohesive structure to think about the whole kit and caboodle.
As we discuss in the article Altmetrics in Evolution, published Tuesday in Information Standards Quarterly, PLOS embarked on an effort to renegotiate all its existing categories used in displaying its ALMs and forming the analytic infrastructure that power the journals’ navigational tools. Timed with the publication of the article, this week we have launched a redesigned metrics tab that uses these new categories:
You may have noticed that the renamed categories are the same as those used by ImpactStory with one important difference: we feel that we can’t clearly distinguish between metrics showing scholarly vs. public impact. But we hope that the article (and this blog post) help spark a discussion. Because we want to maker it easier for people going into different grocery stores to find the stuff they want. Not every store should look the same, but maybe we can agree that we find cereals in one aisle and ice cream somewhere else.
The article is part of a special ISQ issue on Altmetrics, with a total of five articles on the topic, an editorial by one of us (Martin), and a report about the recently announced Sloan Altmetrics grant to NISO. The articles touch on a variety of aspects:
- Scott Chamberlain: Consuming Article-Level Metrics: Observations and Lessons
- Robin Chin Roemer and Rachel Borchardt: Institutional Altmetrics and Academic Libraries
- Mike Taylor: Exploring the Boundaries: How Altmetrics Can Expand Our Vision of Scholarly Communication and Social Impact
- William Gunn: Social Signals Reflect Academic Impact: What it Means When a Scholar Adds a Paper to Mendeley
When you are done reading the articles, and are still hungry, head to the PLOS ALM website to register for the ALM workshop that takes place October 10-11 in San Francisco. Because you know that San Francisco is famous for its food, and a number of famous chefs have already signed up to participate.