“The ability to replicate the findings of a research

publication is g

fundamental to any scientific method”

that the h-index should be abominable to an academic – it’s the reduction of your life’s work into a single number,’ says Hook. ‘And if you agree that the h-index is bad, then you should view ranking as cataclysmic as it’s not just reducing your work to a single number, it’s reducing everybody’s work in your institution to a single number in one go.’ Instead, Hook believes that the time has

come to move to ‘more subtle metrics’ as well as metrics that draw on a greater diversity of data. And this, of course, is echoed in China’s move away from citations-based incentives that have inevitably led to questionable research practices. ‘For me, all of this is about context,’ says

Hook. ‘And I think we are now entering the ‘Age of Context’ in that we’re moving out of a time when any metric is good enough and into an age where context is critical.’ Stacy Konkiel, director of research

relations at Altmetric, firmly believes that more and more players across the scholarly publishing community are exploring the context behind metrics: ‘I see this trend of users, evaluators and publishers looking at normalised metrics, and not just the numbers, or even better, they’re looking at the data that underlines the numbers. Users are also getting really good at using and interpreting the data with a mind towards application. For example, a humanities researcher might say: “what can I be doing to help shape the public discourse around my research areas?”.’ As Konkiel points out, 2020 marks a

decade since the Altmetrics manifesto was published, and much has changed. Her recent observations on what could be called a more thoughtful use of metrics go hand-in-hand with the community-wide move towards more responsible metrics, as clearly evidenced by the recent China developments. ‘I think researchers and other players within scholarly communication are all a bit burnt out on this idea that everything needs to be quantified,’ says Konkiel. ‘We’ve seen some of the corrosive effects of quantification and many of us recognise that we can’t say we’ll never use metrics,

6 Research Information June/July 2020

so instead we’re taking a step back and thinking “How can I use metrics more mindfully and how can I use other kinds of data to help me understand”.’ And without a doubt, altmetrics are no longer a controversial topic, having become more and more normalised over time. Perhaps surprisingly, Konkiel also highlights how funders have embraced altmetrics as a means to help them understand the research that is funded. As she puts it: ‘Some funders are even venturing into developing new metrics, dashboards and other tools that are really creative and informative. We’re definitely seeing more people championing the use of altmetrics, and even more so with coronavirus. More researchers are having to communicate research online so there’s been a lot more interest in altmetrics to help them understand how their research is being received.’ Taking a step back, Konkiel also sees institutions, worldwide, using metrics and altmetrics in new ways, including to manage reputations. ‘I think institutions are recognising the importance of tracking ongoing conversations around research, in terms of the profile of their overall research, or “university brand”,’ she says. ‘Also, instead of just using metrics to talk about performance, I see these institutions feeding that [information] into strategies around communications and other activities.’

New avenues The United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) are, increasingly, a hive of activity for metrics and altmetrics. Launched in 2015, the 17 goals aim to promote a fairer and more sustainable world by 2030, by tackling issues including poverty, health, hunger, education and gender equality. Research into these areas is considered

to be crucial to help transform the world. And, as Konkiel says: ‘[Many researchers and organisations] are looking for an alternative to your typical league tables and rankings and want to show impact and influence... these sustainable development goals are really valuable in terms of that.’ Indeed, many researchers, funders, publishers and institutions have been looking at how their research can accelerate progress towards the goals. Case in point is Springer Nature and the Association of Universities in The Netherlands, who joined forces late last year to provide data and tools to, for example, help researchers deal with societal relevance. As part of this Digital Science worked with the partners to categorise all Dutch scholarly output

@researchinfo |


Ruslan Grumble/

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36