Measuring Impact of Publications sans Journals

Most of you are familiar with the concept that research findings are publicized via an industry vetted journal. The standard scheme is to publish in the most prestigious journal possible, perhaps determined by its impact factor, and that by virtue of an article’s venue, the article itself accumulates prestige and relevancy in its field. This tried and true method will be around for a long time to come; it relies on some of the fundamental tenets of scientific publication. Concepts like citation counts and peer-review are valuable for good reasons.

However, there are also numerous other stages for scientists to display their findings, and new types of findings. It is often difficult, if not impossible, to measure the full impact of a scientifically supported argument that is posted on a blog or a creative computer algorithm by traditional methods. A relatively new concept, altmetrics, is attempting to provide an additional piece to the puzzle. Using modern technologies and public APIs, it is an attempt to measure the near-term impact of a particular finding. And it is important to note that it is focused on the research output itself, not the mechanism of its delivery.

This is essentially a new area, with little to no industry standards around it to constrain its measurements. Its intention is not to supplant traditional publication and citation metrics, but rather make an attempt to classify and measure relatively new and essentially unmonitored methods of publication. While traditional methods can often take years to begin measuring the impact of a particular output, altmetrics is intended to begin forming a picture of that within weeks or months.

Seeing that this concept is still in its infancy, I would suggest that it would be a fruitful venture to treat this as an informal, long-term RFI. If discussed via social media, altmetrics may begin taking note automatically. There is also a request for papers posted here.

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