Whose Metrics? On Building Citation, Usage and Access Metrics as Information Service for Scholars
August 31, 2009
As the Internet has enhanced the collection and provision of citation, usage and access metrics, the challenge lies neither in the technology nor the method, but in constructing databases that deliver services of value to the scholar. However, the development of metrics has hitherto been driven by the needs of external research assessment (governments and funders), while publishers and libraries have focused on their own needs (e.g. journal impact and usage factors). Scholars often criticize research assessment and the use of particular metrics as a zero-sum game whose undesirable consequences far outweigh the benefits. However, this is not to be confused with a general prejudice against metrics, which are principally compatible with the scholarly recognition and rewards system. But it does indicate that current metric information services often do not serve the needs of scholars. The question everybody should be asking is: What kind of metric information services would serve scholars?
The argument proceeds in six steps. First, the problematic and controversial nature of assessment metrics is discussed. Second, the limited value of current metric information services is outlined. Third, the notion of metrics as research information services is clarified. Fourth, some examples of such services are offered. Fifth, the potential value is sketched from the perspective of a postdoc. Sixth, it is indicated that societies and publishers could begin building more metric information services since tried-and-tested technology and methods are available already.
Services mentioned: Journal impact factor, journal usage factor, GoPubMed, SSRN CiteReader, RePEc LogEc, RePEc CitEc, SPIRES, Harzing POP, Webometrics, ISI Web of Knowledge, Scopus, Google Scholar, Citebase, CiteSeer X, CERIF
Number of Pages in PDF File: 8
Keywords: Citation metrics, usage metrics, access metrics, research assessment, research information services, scholarly societies, scholarly publishers, postdocs, Hirsch index
JEL Classification: A11, A23, D83, O33
Date posted: September 1, 2009