Altmetrics and publishers

valeriaOur guest blogger for this session is Valeria Scotti. Valeria works in the Service of Scientific Documentation at the Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico in Pavia, where she lectures on courses on bibliometric indicators and database management.

Today, the conference opened with an important debate on the relationship between altmetrics and the publisher using altmetrics in their platforms. As a librarian in my daily work I meet publishers with whom we have a subscription and their thinking is: “but my journals are the best!” It was great to see them in succession at the same table to present their projects applied to alternative metrics.

Timo Hannay of Digital Science opened the session a with a brief introduction. He pointed out that the metrics related to only journals highlight only one dimension of the impact. Futhermore the metrics related to the article level are “much more than metrics”.

After introducing himself Hans Zijistra illustrated the work done by Elsevier in the field of altmetrics. His presentation was very interesting for me: he spoke of passion and enthusiasm, to bring to bridge the communication gaps between old and new researchers about the issue of alternative metrics. For him Altmetrics are: “another angle of paper not the only way to impact”. This is a very important aspect in those who, like me, are trying to introduce the existence of altmetrics in their institutions. Hans points out how often the term Altmetrics “confuses people”. He suggested to promote, educate, explore these metrics and make them known to scientists with a “holistic approach”. But, in the meantime, what do Elsevier do? They have been running a pilot across Scopus and ScienceDirect in which they are testing different versions of the Altmetric donut, and soon will be announcing further developments soon. At the end of his presentation, Hans has highlighted the importance of quality over quantity, and than when you click the donut to reveal the full original data, Almetrics becomes “more sexy”!

Jennifer Lin brought the experience of open access publishers. PLOS was the first publisher that introduced article level metrics for their journals. She started her presentation with an Albert Einstein citation: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. Jennifer revealed how to construct such a system of metrics is very difficult. Researchers want to find the relevant papers, the most bookmarked, and navigate through the literature. In the other words, what happens behind the numbers and the data, is altmetrics. PLOS is focusing on the article usage by subject area and the use across all the materials. The future development of the Article Level Metrics,-ALM- for PLOS will be to tell the “stories behind the articles, and stories across article features”.

Martijn Roelandse talked about the Springer and BioMed Central experience. He started with an important question: which counts more: an article with 0 citation but published in a top ten journal, or an article published in lower-impact factor journal but with many citations? In the same way, is more important if an article has many citations, or an article with a lot of downloads? Hard to answer! Springer has compiled a list of the top article downloads for 2013 – what they found was that the most downloaded articles belong to journals without Impact Factors. What Martijn proposed about the idea of the evolution of metrics was interesting: beginning with article level metric, passing by journal metric, until finally reaching person level metric. In another words, a different way to look at the scientific community.

Last but not least, Ian Mulvany gave the eLife perspective. Firstly, he spoke about the project and the mission that characterizes eLife. Secondly he explained the platform and the work done. A very important aspect was the platform host and the bugs that complicated the visualization of the portal making it “a black box” without data. But don’t worry: they have changed their platform host and now e-life is running with a new version of LAGOTTO platform (on the basis of PLOS ALM). In this way they have solved the problem of black box and provide usage data. In the future e-Life-aims to have its own local repository of data and with a project call DET they will be able to provide own metrics.

For years the aim of the Publisher was to maximize the impact factor of their journals. The revolution continues! It will be interesting to observe how publishers adopt alternative metrics to encourage the growth of science and knowledge.

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