Universities are unique institutions that need social media policies that fit their goals of knowledge creation and dissemination. Mark Smithers writes that this isn’t a task that should be outsourced to ‘social media gurus’ with no knowledge of academia.
In growing numbers, scholars are integrating social media tools like blogs, Twitter, and Mendeley into their professional communications. The online, public nature of these tools exposes and reifies scholarly processes once hidden and ephemeral. Metrics based on this activities could inform broader, faster measures of impact, complementing traditional citation metrics. This study explores the properties of these social media-based metrics or "altmetrics," sampling 24,331 articles published by the Public Library of Science. We find that that different indicators vary greatly in activity. Around 5% of sampled articles are cited in Wikipedia, while close to 80% have been included in at least one Mendeley library. There is, however, an encouraging diversity; a quarter of articles have nonzero data from five or more different sources. Correlation and factor analysis suggest citation and altmetrics indicators track related but distinct impacts, with neither able to describe the complete picture of scholarly use alone. There are moderate correlations between Mendeley and Web of Science citation, but many altmetric indicators seem to measure impact mostly orthogonal to citation. Articles cluster in ways that suggest five different impact “flavors,” capturing impacts of different types on different audiences; for instance, some articles may be heavily read and saved by scholars but seldom cited. Together, these findings encourage more research into altmetrics as complements to traditional citation measures.
raditional and digital methods of dissemination clashed recently when a storm over live-tweeting academic conferences blew up in the US. Melonie Fullick looks at the accusation that academics can ‘use’ other people’s work to build up their online brand to benefit their academic career, at the expense of others.
No one can read everything. We rely on filters to make sense of the scholarly literature, but the narrow, traditional filters are being swamped. However, the growth of new, online scholarly tools allows us to make new filters; these altmetrics reflect the broad, rapid impact of scholarship in this burgeoning ecosystem. We call for more tools and research based on altmetrics.
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