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Measuring Research Impact and Maximizing Impact Using Bibliometrics and Altmetrics

Elaine Lasda and Richard Hulser

Elaine Lasda and Richard Hulser

Elaine Lasda, Associate Librarian, University at Albany, began with a brief overview of citation metrics and altmetrics. Altmetrics are more useful than traditional citation counts because they recognize research not reported in the traditional literature such as those on social media, and are more timely, reporting data in months, not years.

Proprietary (not free) bibliometric resources include the Web of Science (which will soon include a Book Citation Index), Scopus, and Plum Analytics. Free tools are also available.

Bibliometric tools include:

  • Kopernio (now owned by Clarivate),
  • Clarivate, which is useful for identifying highly cited researchers, top topics,  etc. and which has links to lots of free tools,
  • (free from Scopus) includes CiteScore which is more than a simple impact factor,
  • Google Scholar’s citation counts also give the i10 index (the number of citations in last 10 years), and h-index, which rewards a long career of publications. It also includes a “publish or perish” downloadable tool.
  • Scholarometer, a browser add-on gives picture of author’s output.

The ORCID ID gives authors a number that can be used in searches to disambiguate variations in author names and measure citations. Citation counts are at best an approximation. WorldCat Identities show where an author’s books are held.

Kudo helps researchers get known on various platforms. Reputation approaches are a less evidence-based way to evaluate researchers: word of mouth, luminaries/notable editors, professional associations, and published surveys.

Richard Hulser, Chief Librarian and Curator, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, reviewed altmetrics and the products using them. Think about your context for using altmetrics. (In his case, the museum is a research institution working in areas such as marine sciences, mineral sciences, paleontology, and others.) Funders and donors are noticing this, and altmetric tools expand their awareness. They also help librarians stay current in the research and scholarly process, show value in new ways, and are current with the born-digital generation.

Challenges for the museum’s research departments include raising their visibility and value to the institution and then the institution’s value to all, with measurements to back up their reasoning. Libraries and archives in museums are challenged to demonstrate their 21st century usefulness. They therefore focus on the museum’s digital image and social media presence, capturing the visitor’s experience before, during, and after their visit. DOIs are used to draw attention in social media and other resources to content.

Why altmetrics at the museum: All curators love to hear about their own research and who is reviewing them in the literature, papers, and online media. Sometimes references in the literature are identified using altmetrics, but no press release has been issued, so the researcher can alert the Communications Office in this case. Using DOIs, altmetrics can also aggregate a researcher’s work, which is useful in applying for grants.

Several articles have highlighted some concerns about altmetrics including:

  • They may not be well received by researchers and have the reputation of just identifying “popular” articles,
  • They do not capture all published research (not all articles have DOIs) or online discussions of research, and
  • There is the potential for manipulating and “gaming” the system.

Despite these concerns, altmetrics play a useful role in identifying and measuring research outputs, both for institutions and librarians.

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