Altmetrics — the very cool dive bars of scientometrics

As a researcher, I love altmetrics in something resembling the way that, as a patron, I love dive bars.

There’s no such thing as a standard dive bar. As tempting as it might be to come up with a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for what counts as a dive bar — a long communal trough in the men’s room in place of delicate individual urinals separated by mini partitions, for instance — it’s impossible. Each is unique. And that’s a good thing.

Much the same can be said about altmetrics. Although I respect the motivation behind the current push among scientometricians to reflect on the state of their own art, I’m not wholly in favor of the move to standardize scientometrics. But altmetrics, thankfully, still provide a redoubt for those of us not able to identify too closely with specific academic fields (though there is also a conversation about standardizing altmetrics).

I recently published an article — co-authored with my colleague Adam Briggle — in the volume 1 issue 1 of the new Journal of Responsible Innovation. We argue that principles should play a limited role in decision making, because we humans too often substitute principles for judgment (thereby turning decision making into decision already made). Standards function in much the same way. Or, at least, we ought to be aware of that danger. But I don’t want to preach here. Instead, let me rave about how cool altmetrics are.

Here is the report on the article Briggle and I wrote. Keep in mind, this is the very first issue of the very first volume of a brand new journal; and already there’s an altmetric report. That’s so fast!

Most of the time, I find the ‘score’ tab to be informative. I also like to check out demographic info. It’s fun and cool. Kind of like frequenting a dive bar.

If I want something different — a profile of myself as a whole, rather than of an individual publication, say — I can go somewhere else. Here‘s my ImpactStory.

I haven’t done it yet; but I could really get in there and customize my profile. Note, too, that if I click on, say, ‘articles’, then an individual article, then on ‘tweets’, I’m transported to an report on that article.

The altmetrics community is like a neighborhood, and different altmetrics services are like different dive bars in that neighborhood. There’s something similar about all of them, yet there’s always something different about each of them. Plus, I get to choose where and when I go.

Altmetrics maximize my individual freedom.

Scientometrics that judge research fields don’t do that for me.