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Strengths of Altmetrics

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What are the Strengths in Altmetrics? Here you will discover the Strengths in Altmetrics, as identified by OpenUP consortium.


SWOT Analysis is a very useful technique for understanding the Strengths and Weaknesses of Altmetrics and for identifying both the Opportunities and the Threats that the alternative metrics confront. Here you will discover the Strengths, therefore, the competitive advantages of Altmetrics in compare to other types of established research impact indicators. The Altmetrics' Strengths are the following:

1. Timeliness of some metrics

Timeliness of Altmetrics compared to other types of established indicators of research output or reception via citation to peer-reviewed journals is one major strength. Yet, the argument of timeliness has to be carefully considered for each of the Altmetrics data sources rather than for the umbrella term “Altmetrics” as such. While fast-paced social media, microblogging and social reference management might provide more timely data, an assessment based on other indicators such as multimedia content, syllabi references etc. might still produce considerable time lags. Also, eventual transformation time from one medium to the other has to be taken into account.

2. Complementary information filters

Alternative metrics provide complementary filters for information gathering and retrieval. The filtering will work best in cases where the actual use of dissemination channels captured by Altmetrics reached a substantial disciplinary or thematically oriented diffusion within a community. Catalyst function towards downstream impacts

Catalyst function towards downstream impacts
Even though the actual type and extent of impact for different types of alternative metrics is actually not currently resolved, there seems to be plausible arguments for a catalyst function of engagement with underlying dissemination channels towards wider forms of impact. This might not apply in the same way to all data sources covered by alternative metrics, but engagement via some channels might eventually be valuation acts in themselves. While this is not directly a strength of quantification itself, the option of signaling a certain providence for certain individual Altmetrics dimensions can act as an incentive to engage in these types of activities. The ultimate merit, therefore, has to be captured in the act itself.

3. Responsiveness through open concept

The openness of the concept of alternative metrics can be interpreted as a strength as well as a weakness. The strength of conceptual openness, especially towards integration of new forms of dissemination as the basis of assessment, can enable overall responsiveness to changes within evaluation logics or changes in establishing reward systems or incentive schemes. Yet, integration of new forms of sources should be guided by careful reason of what may be plausibly reflect extended or new forms of valuation.

4. Balanced signaling of importance and impact

Enabling researchers to diverge their signalling, e.g. by highlighting some previously hidden benefits of their work, e.g. integration in teaching curricula, clinical guidelines or policy documents, has led to a positive assessment by parts of the scientific community, especially by some early-career scholars. Alternative metrics, albeit they might not have the effect of modifying selection mechanisms or be an integral or dominant element of career-promoting, allow researchers to differentiate and paint a more balanced picture.

5. Promotion of unique IDs

A substantial amount of current alternative metrics rely on the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI). While such a connection between metric and a specific requirement towards the use of specific communication symbols may lead to skewed results or problems in validity of indicators, it also promotes the use of such identifiers. This in itself can be argued to be a positive outcome in the long run, as it helps to organize and understand the stock of knowledge in a better way. Similar arguments can and have been made for other types of unique identifiers such as author IDs.




Additional Info

  • I am a: Young scholar, Researcher, Funder, Open Science advocate, Publisher
  • Domain: Impact Assessment
  • Type of resource: Features
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