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Introducing Altmetrics: Scholars look for new ways to measure the impact of research

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (link below) describes efforts to measure the impact of research beyond traditional citation analysis. In addition to measuring the impact of scholarly publications (who cites whom), altmetrics tries to tap into the buzz of scholarly conversation on social media sites such as Twitter and reference-sharing communities such as Mendeley and Zotero. The full article is available here:



University of Iowa’s citation and publishing history

Garnering data from the Local Journal Utilization Report (LJUR) produced by Thomson Reuters (who extrapolates the data based on citations in the Web of Science database), we can see which journals are most often used by UI authors and which journals most often cite UI authors. Keep in mind that this data is confined by the limits of the universe of journals covered by Web of Science.

Cumulative data from the most recent three years (2008-2010) indicates the journals that most frequently cite UI authors (thus showing where UI researchers are having the most impact). The top 12 titles are:

Journal Title Total cites (2008-2010)

Of note is PLOS ONE, which is an open access journal.  In 2010 (the most recent available), PLOS ONE jumps to the top of the list with 1236 cites.

Data from the same three year period also shows which journals UI authors most often cite in their published articles (thus showing which journals have the most impact on UI authors).  The top ten are:


Interested in seeing more of the data?  Contact Karen Fischer (karen-fischer@uiowa.edu, 335-8781).


Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: report on faculty values and needs

The Center for Studies in Higher Education has released (in January) Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines.

From the document at CSHE:

Since 2005, the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE), with generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has been conducting research to understand the needs and practices of faculty for in-progress scholarly communication (i.e., forms of communication employed as research is being executed) as well as archival publication. The complete results of our work can be found at the Future of Scholarly Communication’s project website. This report brings together the responses of 160 interviewees across 45, mostly elite, research institutions to closely examine scholarly needs and values in seven selected academic fields: archaeology, astrophysics, biology, economics, history, music, and political science.


Study Suggests Library Dollars Spent Corrolate with Grant Income

Norman Oder, Study at UIUC Suggests $4.38 in Grant Income for Each Library Dollar, Library Journal, 1/22/2009

While return on investment (ROI) studies have become common in the public library arena, a pioneering ROI case study involving the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) suggests that each dollar invested in the library in 2006 returns $4.38 in grant income. The study, while limited in scope and arguably in need of refinement, has spurred research at several other universities worldwide.

The study, University investment in the library: What’s the return?, was sponsored by Elsevier, whose staffers in 2006 had begun to notice that university administrators were increasingly asking about research performance measurement, cost justification, and return on investment. At a North American Library Advisory Board (NALAB) meeting, Elsevier proposed the idea of doing a case study and Paula Kaufman, UIUC’s University Librarian, volunteered, according to Elsevier VP Chrysanne Lowe.

The study was led by Judy Luther, President, Informed Strategies, with input from project advisor Carol Tenopir, professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (and an LJ columnist) and Elsevier’s Lowe and Kira Cooper. It was inspired by an article by Roger Strouse, VP and Lead Analyst with Outsell Inc., who described how corporate and government libraries save users time and help generate income with library resources.


New Ratings of Humanities Journals Do More Than Rank — They Rankle

By JENNIFER HOWARD, Chronicle of Higher Education

October 10, 2008

A large-scale, multinational attempt in Europe to rank humanities journals has set off a revolt. In a protest letter, some journal editors have called it “a dangerous and misguided exercise.” The project has also started a drumbeat of alarm in this country, as U.S.-based scholars begin to grasp the implications for their own work and the journals they edit.

The ranking project, known as the European Reference Index for the Humanities, or ERIH, is the brainchild of the European Science Foundation, which brings together research agencies from many countries. It grew from a desire to showcase high-quality research in Europe. Panels of four to six scholars, appointed by a steering committee, compiled initial lists of journals to be classified in 15 fields. Each journal was assigned to a category — A, B, or C — depending on its reputation and international reach. (See box below.)

The denunciation of the project as dangerous appears in an open letter signed by more than 60 editors of journals devoted to the history of science, technology, and medicine. They also ask to have their journals removed from the rankings. The letter will be published in the first 2009 issues of those journals, which include Centaurus, Perspectives on Science, Isis, Annals of Science, and the British Journal for the History of Science.

“We now confront a situation in which our own research work is being subjected to putatively precise accountancy by arbitrary and unaccountable agencies,” the editors write. They call the project “entirely defective in conception and execution,” and argue that it could unfairly penalize good journals and even affect professors’ tenure applications.

. . . So far nobody in the United States has tried to set in motion a large-scale ranking system of humanities journals, but editors here have begun to take note of what’s happening overseas — and to weigh the implications of rankings for homegrown research.

American scholars, even if they are not aware of it, are already involved, Mr. Howes said. Many of the ERIH-listed journals are published in the United States or have U.S. contributors and editorial-board members. Scholarly work and the journals in which it appears transcend national boundaries. “The rankings systems in these various countries never asked us whether we wanted to be ranked or not,” Mr. Howes said. “They’re going to do it anyway.”

Read the article in it’s entirety at (available to UI affiliates, and other subscribers only):



Prices and Ratings of Economic Textbooks

Ted Bergstrom, Maxim Massenkoff, and Martin Osborne have launched Prices and Ratings of Economic Textbooks (POET). From the site:

The goal of this site is to encourage instructors to take price into account when shopping for texts.

Like doctors prescribing drugs for their patients, college instructors selecting textbooks for their classes have little incentive to pay attention to prices that they themselves do not pay.

Textbook publishers do not advertise their prices. Often it is even difficult to find prices on their websites. Nowhere have we been able to find current price lists for a full selection of competing texts.

Introductory Economics and Intermediate Micro and Macro texts commonly retail for more than $150….[T]here is little doubt that successful textbooks are enormously profitable and would be so even at much lower prices.

As economists, we are not surprised that publishers seek to maximize profits. Economic theory predicts that the ratio of a seller’s price to marginal cost will be high if demand is inelastic. While publishers are unlikely to respond to moral suasion, they are likely to respond to increased price elasticity. Thus we hope that this website will have two beneficial effects. The direct effect is that it may help you find a better deal for your students. An indirect effect is that the more attention that consumers pay to prices, the more elastic will be demand, and hence the lower will be the profit-maximizing prices.


Comparison of SCImago Journal Rank Indicator with Journal Impact Factor

Matthew E. Falagas and three co-authors, Comparison of SCImago journal rank indicator with journal impact factor, FASEB Journal, April 11, 2008.


The application of currently available sophisticated algorithms of citation analysis allows for the incorporation of the “quality” of citations in the evaluation of scientific journals. We sought to compare the newly introduced SCImago journal rank (SJR) indicator with the journal impact factor (IF). We retrieved relevant information from the official Web sites hosting the above indices and their source databases. The SJR indicator is an open-access resource, while the journal IF requires paid subscription. The SJR indicator (based on Scopus data) lists considerably more journal titles published in a wider variety of countries and languages, than the journal IF (based on Web of Science data). Both indices divide citations to a journal by articles of the journal, during a specific time period. However, contrary to the journal IF, the SJR indicator attributes different weight to citations depending on the “prestige” of the citing journal without the influence of journal self-citations; prestige is estimated with the application of the PageRank algorithm in the network of journals. In addition, the SJR indicator includes the total number of documents of a journal in the denominator of the relevant calculation, whereas the journal IF includes only “citable” articles (mainly original articles and reviews). A 3-yr period is analyzed in both indices but with the use of different approaches. Regarding the top 100 journals in the 2006 journal IF ranking order, the median absolute change in their ranking position with the use of the SJR indicator is 32 (1st quartile: 12; 3rd quartile: 75). Although further validation is warranted, the novel SJR indicator poses as a serious alternative to the well-established journal IF, mainly due to its open-access nature, larger source database, and assessment of the quality of citations.


Journals Find Fakery in Many Images Submitted to Support Research

By JEFFREY R. YOUNG, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 29, 2008


Kristin Roovers was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania with a bright career ahead of her—a trusted member of a research laboratory at the medical school studying the role of cell growth in diabetes.

But when an editor of The Journal of Clinical Investigation did a spot-check of one of her images for an article in 2005, Roovers’s research proved a little too perfect.

The image had dark bands on it, supposedly showing different proteins in different conditions. “As we looked at it, we realized the person had cut and pasted the exact same bands” over and over again, says Ushma S. Neill, the journal’s executive editor. In some cases a copied part of the image had been flipped or reversed to make it look like a new finding. “The closer we took a look, the more we were convinced that the data had been fabricated or manipulated in order to support the conclusions.”

As computer programs make images easier than ever to manipulate, editors at a growing number of scientific publications are turning into image detectives, examining figures to test their authenticity.

And the level of tampering they find is alarming. “The magnitude of the fraud is phenomenal,” says Hany Farid, a computer-science professor at Dartmouth College who has been working with journal editors to help them detect image manipulation. Doctored images are troubling because they can mislead scientists and even derail a search for the causes and cures of disease.


Scholarly communication news for the UI community – February 2008

February 2008
Issue 1.08

Welcome to the February issue of Transitions.

The purpose of this irregular electronic newsletter is to bring to readers’ attention some of the many new projects and developments affecting the current system of scholarly communication, with emphasis on new products and programs, the open access movement and other alternative publishing models. Scholarly communication refers to the full range of formal and informal means by which scholars and researchers communicate, from email discussion lists to peer-reviewed publication. In general authors are seeking to document and share new discoveries with their colleagues, while readers–researchers, students, librarians and others–want access to all the literature relevant to their work.

While the system of scholarly communication exists for the benefit of the world’s research and educational community and the public at large, it faces a multitude of challenges and is undergoing rapid change brought on by technology. To help interested members of the UI community keep up on these challenges and changes we plan to put out 4-6 issues per year of this newsletter.

This newsletter aims to reflect the interests of its readers so please forward comments, suggestions and entries to include to karen-fischer@uiowa.edu. Also, read the health sciences counterpart to Transitions: Hardin Scholarly Communication News.

Table of Contents:

NIH Mandates Open Access to Researchers’ Publications
NIH Public Access web site
What’s Next, Post-NIH Mandate?
Study of Author Attitudes Towards Open Access Publishing
Together Again: Springer, Max Planck Agree To New “Experimental” Deal
Max Planck Society Pays OA Journal Fees for Copernicus Journals
Students for Free Culture – FreeCulture.org
Questioning the Impact Factor (and new alternatives)
Open Content Primer
U. of Michigan Places 1 Millionth Scanned Book Online
Jane: A Tool for Suggesting Journals and Finding Experts (and Facilitating Peer-Review)
Cost Profiles of Alternative Approaches to Journal Publishing
University Presses Collaborate to Produce More Books
Government Documents of Library in Boston to Go on Web


Students for Free Culture – FreeCulture.org

Students for Free Culture (SFC) is a diverse, non-partisan group of students and young people who are working to get their peers involved in the free culture movement. Launched in April 2004 at Swarthmore College, SFC has helped establish student groups at colleges and universities across the United States. Today, SFC chapters exist at over 30 colleges, from Maine to California, with many more getting started around the world.

Free Culture Manitfesto, excerpt:
The mission of the Free Culture movement is to build a bottom-up, participatory structure to society and culture, rather than a top-down, closed, proprietary structure. Through the democratizing power of digital technology and the Internet, we can place the tools of creation and distribution, communication and collaboration, teaching and learning into the hands of the common person — and with a truly active, connected, informed citizenry, injustice and oppression will slowly but surely vanish from the earth.