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More On Alternative Research Metrics: Telling The Full Story Of Researchers’ Productivity

Heartening to read the story of sociologist Margarita Mooney of the University of North Carolina. She recently applied for a grant and was able to take instant credit for one aspect of her work: the readership of her blog, as documented by Google Analytics.

When she told the review committee that her team blog, Black, White and Gray, had 15,000 page views in its first month, rising to 20,000 views in later months, they were impressed, she recalls. Blog readership is not a traditional measure of scholarship, but the committee, which was also evaluating public impact, rewarded her for it. She won the grant.

Officials encouraged Mooney to include in her tenure package both traditional metrics and measures of her Web-based impact—including the measure of page views her blog receives. The university is reviewing its promotion procedures to incorporate more expansive measures of research output, but Mooney doesn’t expect it to abandon traditional metrics.

Research institutions are testing a variety of metrics alongside traditional ones.

…an E.U.-funded project called Acumen (aims to) construct a template for a kind of super-CV for researchers, which would include measurements of a researcher’s impact on the Web.

In June, the U.S. National Institutes of Health issued a call for improvements in the biographical sketch that it requires grant applicants to submit. A future sketch, the NIH notice suggested, could document a wide range of research outputs including “peer-reviewed publications or other types of scientific output such as data sets, videos, crystal coordinates, patents, licenses, or documented changes to standard medical practice or government policies.” In October, the U.S. National Science Foundation revised its grant proposal guidelines along similar lines.

Quotes from the article:

“I think the biggest change is you can get a faster idea of what impact your publications or even your ideas are having.” —Computer scientist Paul Groth, Vrije University Amsterdam

“It’s literally how much attention (research is) getting online. Altmetric is not a substitute for peer review. At this stage it’s more about collecting the data and seeing what’s in there.” —Founder of Altmetric Euan Adie

“Some people say, ‘I don’t care about popular science; I only care about quality science. The only measure we have [of science quality] is the consensus of the scientific community. One could call that popularity; one could call it expert consensus.”—Information scientist Jason Priem,  University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of altmetrics: a manifesto

“I really like the idea of using a suite of metrics, together with a narrative, to try and persuade the world what you’re doing, why it’s important, and why it’s successful.” —Cybermetrics researcher Mike Thelwall, University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom

Keep reading: Alternative Research Metrics

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