Magazine article Information Today

Libraries in the Digital Age: Qualitative Methods and Altmetrics in Assessments

Magazine article Information Today

Libraries in the Digital Age: Qualitative Methods and Altmetrics in Assessments

Article excerpt

Two similar conclusions--"Altmetrics can supplement but not substitute for citations" and "Altmetrics should not substitute, but can complement citation data"--were representative of many presented by researchers at the Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) conference in Zadar, Croatia, held June 16-20, 2014. The dual themes of the conference were Qualitative Methods in Assessing Libraries, Users, & Use: Applications and Results, and Altmetrics--New Methods in Assessing Scholarly Communication and Libraries: Issues, Applications, Results.

Measuring Altmetrics

The first of these conclusions was drawn by Christian Schloegl, from the University of Graz, in his presentation, "Are Downloads and Readership Data a Substitute for Citations? The Case of a Scholarly Journal." Schloegl compared citations, downloads, and readership for the Journal of Phonetics (2002-2011; 395 documents) using ScienceDirect for download data, Scopus for monthly citation data, and Mendeley for readership data. Research questions compared similarities, differences, obsolescence (such as time and half-life), correlated downloads versus cites, readers versus cites, and downloads versus readers. Schloegl found moderate correlation but concluded that these altmetrics measure different aspects of journal use.

The second conclusion, by Isabella Peters (from Leibniz Information Centre for Economics) and Alexandra Jobmann (from IPN), was presented as a part of "Altmetrics for Large, Multidisciplinary Research Groups: A Case Study of the Leibniz Association." Their research focused on the extent to which their organizations' publications were covered on social media and what tools can be used to assess research impact. They found that social media use--including blogs, Facebook, Google+, Faculty of 1000, and Twitter --was discipline-specific.

David Bawden, from the Centre for Information Science at City University London, introduced LIDA's first theme and presented '"The Noblest Pleasure'?: On Gaining Understanding From Qualitative Research in Library/Information Science." He traced the history of such research from the late 1800s.

Beethoven vs. Bieber

Blaise Cronin, Rudy Professor of Information Science at Indiana University-Bloomington, presented "Beethoven vs. Bieber: On the Meaningfulness of (Altimetries." He noted that "we have a desire to rank everything, from beaches to professors to universities ... and that (currently) [Justin] Bieber is higher ranked than [Ludwig van] Beethoven in the social media." He quoted the 2010 "altmetrics: a manifesto" (altmetrics .org/manifesto), saying, "Researchers must ask if altmetrics really reflect impact, or just empty buzz" and showed that citations are not equal to altmetrics.

Guest of honor Gary Marchionini, dean of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, presented "Libraries and Literacies: From I to We" and stated that libraries are moving from collections of knowledge artifacts to programs and services. …

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