Event: Heather Piwowar and the Scholarly Impact of “Altmetrics”

As scholars are completing doctoral programs and vying for tenure and promotion, it becomes necessary to explore and review the reverberations of their scholarly voices. The methods used to do so tend to be incredibly slow and it can become a struggle to find the most efficient and effective method to uncover and share a scholar’s research impact.

Heather Piwowar of ImpactStory

Biometric practices such as peer-review, citation counting, and determining an h-index, have been the traditional method of tracking scholarly impact. A new method of tabulation is spreading like wildfire, just as information involved in the mosaic of the 21st century digital environment are wont to do. Altmetrics is a method that is recreating the ways in which scientists and scholars share and reuse research data. Altmetrics allows the exploration of personal and scholarly presence through an alternative medium– social media tools. Social media tools, such as twitter, blog posts, online reference managers such as Mendeley and Zotero, and even institutional repositories provide incredibly quick feedback on scholarly presence and impact when compared to the traditional methods of review. Through the daily use and involvement in open source, social media outlets, scholars and critics are expanding their opinion of what it takes to make an impact and how that impact is interpreted. Some critics of altmetrics worry that using this method leaves too much room for gaming (manipulation of citations) and could create a false representation of the impact factor of an academic. Supporters acknowledge the risks but point out that any metric calculation is vulnerable to corruption as has been proved evident in past instances.

ImpactStory, a non-profit funded by the NSF and the Sloan Foundation, is an example of an altmetric tool that allows researchers to view their scholarly impact across an array of digital data channels in one web space. Heather Piwowar, co-founder of ImpactStory, is a postdoctoral research associate with DataONE and the Dryad digital repository at NESCent. She has 10 years of experience as a software engineer and a PhD in biomedical Informatics from the University of Pittsburgh. She has measured the citation benefit of publicly archiving research data, variation in journal data sharing policies, patterns in public deposition of datasets, and is currently investigating patterns of data reuse and the impact of journal data sharing policies. For more information about Heather, you can follow her research blog and her twitter account.

The Scholarly Commons, with thanks to the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, extends an invitation to the campus and community to attend Heather Piwowar’s lecture about her research in altmetrics and involvement with ImpactStory. The lecture will be held at:

Alice Campbell Alumni Center
Thursday, February 6, 2014 from 9-10:30AM
Opening remarks from Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, John Wilkin.
Join us for refreshments before the talk at 8:30AM.

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