Altmetrics and Scholarly Communication

On Tuesday May 7th, Jason Priem presented “Altmetrics and Revolutions: Web-Native Science and the Future of Scholarly Communication” in a session co-sponsored by the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries and MLA.

The web, created as a scholarly tool, has revolutionized nearly every corner of society, except scholarship. But this is changing. Priem discussed the current research and practice of altmetrics (alternative metrics of scholarly impact based on online use), as well as their long-term implications: the potential to power a fast, open, and truly web-native scholarly communication ecosystem.

I had the chance to see Jason as an invited speaker at the Ohio State University Libraries a couple months ago. (Read the OSU linked blog post for an excellent summary of what he covered in his MLA presentation). Since I had to leave the OSU presentation early, I introduced myself prior to his MLA presentation and told him a quick story on how I used ImpactStory during a recent promotion review. During his presentation he called on me to tell the audience what I had told him. Since people were there to hear him talk, and not me, I promised to share my story on a blog and Tweet it out, so here it is.

I am always looking at emerging forms scholarly communications to see how they can impact or transform the nature of scholarly discourse within the discipline of librarianship. One of the ways I have experimented is by posting many of my presentations onto SlideShare. Few, if any, of the informal modes of scholarly communication like SlideShare count as scholarship or are recognized as contributions in most academic reward systems, even though informal scholarly communication is often where new ideas are first presented.

Knowing that my traditional scholarship usually carries more weight in promotion reviews I tossed in the SlideShare information simply as an educational opportunity, not expecting much more.  Primary to open a discussion within the eligible voting faculty on the impact of my SlldeShare scholarship I turned to ImpactStory. I pulled together a story of my shares and made it available for the faculty to review – creating an altmetric of my alternative scholarship.

To my surprise, the summary of the discussion about my case specifically mentioned my SlideShare altmetrics. Apparently, one of my external evaluators took my ImpactStory one step further and totaled up the number of times my SlideShare files had been viewed as a group – which was over 10,000! I hadn’t added them up myself recently and was surprised.

Although my traditional scholarship likely played a bigger role in the outcome of my review, the fact that my alternative scholarship and altmetrics were acknowledged is an encouraging sign.


One thought on “Altmetrics and Scholarly Communication

  1. I am not an academic per se but am extremely interested in the Altmetrics world and specifically am trying to encourage young scientists to recognize the web for the value it can bring them for exposure. I’ve got over 200 slideshare presentations up now and the traffic is enormous…over 300k views at last count…some well over 10k like yourself. The feeds into impactstory are great: and I recommend using the impactstory badges if you are not already doing so…see:

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