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 Opportunities, existing in the publishing environment of Altmetrics. The Altmetrics' Opportunities are the following:
1. New theoretical perspectives on impact
There have been recurring phases of criticism towards scientometrics about the low level of a coherent theoretical framing. With the uptake of alternative metrics this discussion has been reviewed and might also allow for the integration of new perspectives such as media theory. Moreover, the broadened focus might lead to theoretical frameworks which extent the realm of scientometrics and aims for a broader theory of scientific regard including differentiated views both on the duality of production and reception of knowledge.
2. New ways of understanding the dynamics of science
The recent uptake of content-based analysis techniques might hold the opportunity for studies that allow for a better understanding of some aspects of dynamics of science, especially those that are related to the mutual dependencies of science and the public. In a similar vein, but focused more on the supply side of knowledge production, this might also be expected form user-motivation studies towards complementary forms of output beyond journal publications. Yet, such studies would probably have the highest impact if embedded in larger contexts of mixed method approaches integrating quantitative and qualitative aspects. Yet, the idea of user motivation studies and content-based analyses is not entirely a new phenomenon in scientometrics, but rather present standard techniques. The merit in this case will lie in the combination of assessing new forms of dissemination with these techniques and thereby a wider focus on the issues of science dynamics in general.
3. Potential for new cultures of appreciation
All forms of quantification are embedded in a wider context of ascription of meaning and actions. This also includes the relationship between classifications and valuations. With the rise of alternative metrics it is likely that new forms of classifications may arise that are linked to the legitimacy of the different latent concepts captured in these indicators but also in new forms of appreciation. The relationship between these individual aspects, i.e. appreciation of certain actions and traits, their quantification and their selective and the acts of establishing and applying classifications is unclear and will likely require dedicated research. Most likely such research will be on a disciplinary level at first. Understanding these interactions might allow for a clearer message what, why and how certain alternative metrics capture new and relevant forms of regard and how these feed back into cultures of selection and appreciation. Increased speed of knowledge turnover
4. Increased speed of knowledge turnover
As one of the main strengths of alternative metrics is the timeliness in quantification of the output in different data sources and they represent complementary information filters it is also likely that alternative metrics could lead to an increased speed in knowledge turnover for a certain portion of research output. While this is a plausible outcome, it also is connected to a series of limitations. First, the timeliness is a function of the inherent mechanics of the medium and media use. In consequence, some media are more responsive and faster in stacking up indicator counts. If knowledge turnover is increased, it will likely be based on such media. Even though this is an overall positive outcome, it is also linked to the threat of algorithmization of knowledge turnover.
5. New ways of engaging and improving as a researcher
This potential is not linked to the numeric nature of alternative metrics, but rather the effect of screening and aggregating data and providing access to it. Most alternative metrics providers allow for an indepth look into the data that make up the Altmetrics scores. Access to this underlying data can help researchers to assess the reception of their work, which in turn may support their scholarly development. Potential for improvement might range from passive approaches, e.g. qualitatively screening social media messages in which the research output is mentioned, to active approaches by engaging with the social media users directly. Yet, the positive impact of such will be influenced by thediversity of opinions and viewpoints on the reception side.
6. Motivations for improving data access and quality
The increased attention towards Altmetrics could have a positive impact on data provider motives to increase or modify data coverage and quality as well as improved functionality for Altmetrics analyses. While such developments will require time we can observe similar developments in the field of scientometrics and bibliographic data providers.