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Monday, August 5, 2013

NISO Publishes Themed Issue of Information Standards Quarterly on Altmetrics

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) announces the publication of a special themed issue ofInformation Standards Quarterly (ISQ) on the topic of Altmetrics. Since Eugene Garfield’s pioneering work in the 1960s, assessment of published research has been through citation reference counts and the Journal Impact Factor. A new field of alternative metrics—often called altmetrics for short—has recently emerged to provide methods of measurement that better reflect online reader behavior, network interactions with content, and social media. ISQ Guest Content Editor, Martin Fenner, Technical Lead Article-Level Metrics for the Public Library of Science (PLOS) and Project Manager for the ORCID DataCite Interoperability Network (ODIN), has assembled a set of articles that go beyond the basics of what altmetrics are to look at emerging best practices and challenges presented by this burgeoning field. “Altmetrics have grown up,” states Fenner, “and the articles in this issue of ISQ reflect this shift in the discussion.”
The feature article, Consuming Article-Level Metrics, by Scott Chamberlain (Simon Fraser University) discusses the issues encountered when using scripting interfaces to obtain data from the four largest article-level metrics providers: PLOS, ImpactStory, Altmetric, and Plum Analytics. Commonalities and differences in consistency, provenance, and context are illustrated and metrics users are cautioned about combining data across providers.
While much of the focus to date has been on the use of altmetrics by and for individual researchers, Robin Chin Roemer (University of Washington Libraries) and Rachel Borchardt (American University) in the second feature discuss Institutional Altmetrics and Academic Libraries, specifically how altmetrics has begun to address the needs of institutions and the key roles that librarians can play as partners, liaisons, and advocates in such endeavors.
Three “in practice” articles provide case studies for the way altmetrics are being used today. Jennifer Lin andMartin Fenner describe how altmetrics can be classified into different categories and how PLOS developed a new ontology to make sense of it all. Mike Taylor (Elsevier) discusses how altmetrics can expand our vision of scholarly communication and social impact, well beyond what bibliometrics and citation has done. William Gunn explores how the addition of papers to the Mendeley academic social network can provide a different view of research impact both within and beyond a particular discipline.
All of the authors describe issues and challenges in this evolving field that lend support for the new project, described in the NISO Reports article—and supported with a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation—to study, propose, and then develop community-based standards and recommended practices in the field of alternative metrics.
“For altmetrics to move out of its current pilot and proof-of-concept phase, the community must begin coalescing around a suite of commonly understood definitions, calculations, and data sharing practices,” states Todd Carpenter, NISO Executive Director. “This special issue of ISQ sets the stage for understanding and identifying key altmetrics issues that can best be addressed through standards or recommended practices.”
ISQ is available in open access in electronic format on the NISO website. Both the entire Summer 2013 Altmetrics issue and the individual articles may be freely downloaded. Print copies are available by subscription and as print on demand. For more information and to access the free electronic version, visit:

Cynthia Hodgson
ISQ Managing Editor
National Information Standards Organization

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