Thing 19: Altmetrics

I installed the Altmetric Bookmarklet  (which is really simple to install and use). Then I explored a few publications in my area of learning technology. It was sad to see some very low altmetric scores – it made me think how comparatively easy it would be to increase these with a few well placed tweets. After all effort that goes into researching and writing papers it is sad to think that they are not being promoted and may not be read. The suggestions is that altmetrics are useful alongside citation stats, but a paper is unlikely to be cited if it’s not read by the right people at the right time – from what I see altmetrics is about measuring markers of  impact – about getting a paper out to an audience to be read.

I then went to see if I could find some work that I thought might have been more widely discussed an looked at the altmetrics for this paper by an esteemed colleague Professor Sian Bayne: Teacherbot: interventions in automated teachingBayne, S. 2015 In : Teaching in Higher Education. 20, 4, p. 455-467. This has been widely tweeted and picked up by a news outlet – which would also extend it’s reach.

The article A brief history of altmetrics,  Prof Mike Thelwall (June 2014), suggests several issues with relying on Twitter for altmetrics including:

Twitter has a wider user base and a wider range of potential uses. Nevertheless, it seems that only a minority of articles get tweeted – for example, perhaps as few as 10% of PubMed articles in the Web of Science 2010-2012 have been tweeted (8).

So you’d need to consider if the altmetrics used are relevant in a particular disciple? I work in digital education and technology, and I do use twitter for to keep abreast of current research, so this metric seems relevant to articles I’m interested in. This article also points to research which examines if high altmetric scores will in time lead to high citation scores?

As a reader of research rather than a writer – I’m trying to make decisions on whether an article is likely to be worth reading – and I can imagine taking a quick glance at the altmetrics to see its impact so far to help with the decision…

Altmetrics are the central way of measuring communication in the digital age, but what do they miss?, Nick Scott, LSE Impact Blog, (December 2012). Offered a really useful overview while also  detailing potential problems and pitfalls in current implementations.