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This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to give a webinar for Elsevier Labs giving an overview of altmetrics. It was a fun opportunity to talk to people who have a great chance to influence the next generation of academic measurement. The slides are embedded below.

At the VU, we are also working with Elsevier Labs on the Data2Semantics project where we are trying to enrich data with additional machine understandable metadata. How does this relate to metrics? I believe that metrics (access, usage, etc) can be e a key piece of additional semantics for datasets. I’m keen to see how metrics can make our data more useful, findable and understandable.

 

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It’s been about two weeks since we had the almetrics11 Workshop at Web Science 2011 but I was swamped with the ISWC conference deadline so I just got around till posting about this now.

The aim of the workshp was to gather together the group of people working on next generation measures of science based on the Web. Importantly, as organizers, Jason, Dario and I wanted to encourage the growth of the scientific side of altmetrics.

The workshop turned out to be way better than I expected. We had roughly 36 attendees, which was way beyond our expectations. You can see some of the attendees here:

There was nice representation from my institution (VU University Amsterdam) including talks by my collaborators Peter van den Besselaar and Julie Birkholtz. But we had attendees from Israel, the UK, the US and all over Europe. People were generally excited about the event and the discussions went well (although the room was really warm). I think we all had a good time the restaurant, the Alt-Coblenz – highly recommended by the way-and an appropriate name. Thanks to the WebSci organizing team for putting this together.

We had a nice mix of social scientists and computer scientists (~16 & 20 respectively). Importantly, we had representation from the bibliometrics community, social studies of science, and computer science.

Importantly, for an emerging community, there was a real honesty about the research. Good results were shown but importantly almost every author discussed where the gaps were in their own research.

Two discussions come to the fore for me. One was on how we evaluate altmetrics.  Mike Thelwall who gave the keynote (great job by the way) suggests using correlations to the journal impact factor to help demonstrate that there is something scientifically valid that your measuring. What you want is not perfect correlation but correlation with a gap and that gap is what your new alternative metric is then measuring. There was also the notion from Peter van den Besselaar is that we should look more closely our how our metrics match what scientists do in practice (i.e. qualitative studies). For example, do our metrics correlate with promotions or hiring. The second discussion was around where to go next with altmetrics. In particular, there was a discussion on how to position altmetrics in the research field and really it seemed to position itself within and across the fields of science studies (i.e scientometricswebometrics,virtual ethnograpy ). Importantly, it was felt that we needed a good common corpus of information in order to comparative studies of metrics. Altmetrics has the problem of data acquisition. While some people are interested in that others want to focus on metric generation and evaluation. A corpus of traces of science online was felt to be a good way to interconnect both data acquisition and metric generation and allow for such comparative studies. But how to build the corpus….Suggestions welcome.

The attendees wanted to have an altmetrics12 so I’m pretty sure we will do that. Additionally, we will have some exciting news soon about a journal special issue on altmetrics.

Some more links:

Abstracts of all talks

Community Notes

Also, could someone leave a link to the twitter archive in the comments? That would be great.

In preparation for Science Online 2011, I was asked by Mark Hahnel from over at Science 3.0 if I could do some analysis of the blogs that they’ve been aggregating since Octobor (25 thousand posts from 1506 authors). Mark along with Dave Munger will be talking more about the role/importance of aggregators in a session Saturday morning 9am (Developing an aggregator for all science blogs). These analysis provide a high level overview of the content of science blogs. Here are the results.

The first analysis tried to find the topics of blogs and their relationships. We used title words as a proxy for topics and co-occurrence of those words as representative of the relationships between those topics. Here’s the map (click the image to see a larger size):

The words cluster together according to their co-occurrence. The hotter the color the more occurrence of those words. You’ll notice that for example Science and Blog are close to one another. Darwin and days as well as fumbling and tenure are close as well. The visualization was done with Vosviewer software.

I also looked at how blogs are citing research papers. We looked for the occurrence of DOIs as well as research blogging style citations within all the blog posts. We found that there were 964 posts with these sorts of citations. In this case, I thought there would be more but maybe this is down to how I implemented it.

Finally, I looked at what URLs were most commonly used in all the blog posts. Here are the top 20:

URL Occurences
http://friendfeed.com/scienceartists 4476
http://scienceblogs.com/bookclub/?utm_source=rssTextLink 3920
http://friendfeed.com/science-magazine-blogs 1002
http://friendfeed.com/science-news-feeds 930
http://www.addtoany.com/share_save 789
http://friendfeed.com/nyt-science-blogs 648
http://friendfeed.com/sciam-blogs 533
http://www.guardian.co.uk 485
http://www.guardian.co.uk/help/feeds 482
http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/category/hacks-mods-and-diy/ 376
http://friendfeed.com/student-science-journalism-blogs 350
http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/grrlscientist 336
http://friendfeed.com/science-blog-carnivals 295
http://blogevolved.blogspot.com 271
http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/rss/current.xml 269
http://www.researchblogging.org 266
http://www.sciam.com/ 265
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/index 232
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/rss/current.xml 232
mailto:grrlscientist@gmail.com 195

I was quite happy with this list because they are pretty much all science links. I thought there would be a lot more links to non-science places.

I hope the results can provide a useful discussion piece. Obviously, this is just the start and we can do a lot more interesting analyses. In particular, I think such statistics can be the basis for alt-metrics style measures. If you’re interested in talking to me about these analysis come find me at Science Online.

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