Panel to Consider Innovative New Tools for Assessing Scholarly Impact
NEW YORK, November 1, 2012 –

Is the academic community ready to employ new tools to evaluate the importance and influence of scholarly works? How do “altmetrics” services and models reflect new thinking about what types of scholarly activities should be valued? Join us for “Measuring Scholarly Impact: The Influence of ‘Altmetrics’ on a Changing Conversation” for a panel discussion of these questions. This event will take place on Tuesday, November 13, at noon in Columbia’s Faculty House. It is free and open to the public.


“Altmetrics” refers to methods of measuring scholarly impact using Web-based social media. Why does it matter? In many academic fields, attaining scholarly prestige, not to mention tenure and promotion, means publishing research articles in important scholarly journals. However, many in the academic community consider a journal's prestige, which is determined by a metric calculated using the number of citations to the journal, to be a poor proxy for the quality of the individual piece or of the individual author’s work. Many uses of a scholarly work–by practitioners, policy makers, and the general public, for example–do not result in citations. At the same time, hiring and promotion committees are looking for ways to determine the impact of alternate formats now commonly used by researchers such as blogs, data sets, videos, and social media.

Our panelists are all working with innovative new tools for assessing scholarly impact:

Jason Priem is a PhD student and Royster Fellow, studying information science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Since coining the term "altmetrics," he's remained active in the field, organizing annual altmetrics workshops, giving invited talks, and publishing peer-reviewed research. Jason is also a co-founder of ImpactStory, an open-source webapp that helps scholars track and report the broader impacts of their research. Sometimes he writes on a blog at http://jasonpriem.org and tweets.

Kristi Holmes is a Bioinformaticist at Becker Medical Library at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, where she works to develop and support cross-disciplinary initiatives across a variety of subject areas. Her professional interests include the development and implementation of strategies to support biomedical training and research; collaboration and research networking; open science; and understanding the impact of research efforts. She is Director of Outreach for VIVO and a member of the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences Tracking and Evaluation Team.

Caitlin Aptowicz Trasande is Head of Science Metrics at Digital Science, a technology start-up company spun out of Nature Publishing Group, publisher of Nature. Her international team of developers leverages the latest techniques in machine learning to build software that analyzes scientific publications to support information products for science managers and decision makers. She has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and History of Mathematics and Science from St. John's College (Annapolis), and a PhD in Neurobiology from the University of Chicago, where she trained as an electrophysiologist.

This event is the second event this academic year in the speaker series Research Without Borders: The Changing World of Scholarly Communication. Follow the discussion live on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ScholarlyComm or by using the hashtag #rwob. To watch a live webcast of the event, and for more information about Research Without Borders, visit the Scholarly Communication Program website at http://scholcomm.columbia.edu.

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The Scholarly Communication Program (SCP) supports the global reach and impact of research produced at Columbia University. Its mission is to explore and raise awareness about new research tools, methods, and support services that are available to Columbia faculty, students, and staff. In pursuit of this mission, the SCP hosts events and workshops, curates news and resources on our Web site, and engages in innovative scholarly communication initiatives on campus and in the wider academic community. The SCP is an initiative of the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, which is part of Columbia University Libraries/Information Services.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.

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LW 2012