Introducing altmetrics to the Journal of the Medical Library Association

Editorial


Introducing altmetrics to the Journal of the Medical Library Association


Katherine G. Akers, PhD


doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2017.250

Most readers of the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) are well aware of the inappropriateness of evaluating individual journal articles by their journals’ impact factors. This is because, among other reasons, a journal’s citations are not evenly distributed across its articles. Rather, a small proportion (20%) of articles often accounts for most (80%) of a journal’s citations [1]. Therefore, individual journal articles deserve to be judged on their own merits.

The traditional article-level measure of impact is the number of times that an article is cited by other articles. However, article citations are slow to accrue and reflect only one dimension of the impact of one’s work: how often it is discussed in the scholarly literature. By contrast, altmetrics (“alternative metrics”) [2] provide more immediate information about reader interest as well as a broader picture of article impact. Because articles published in the JMLA are often more practically oriented than theoretically oriented, their impact may be better judged by the extent to which they change the practice of health sciences librarianship than by the frequency with which they are discussed in academic circles. While it may be impossible to measure the true impact of individual journal articles on a profession, altmetrics can provide insight into the influence of articles in the JMLA on the field of health sciences librarianship and information science by showing how frequently they are read and discussed online (Figure 1).

 


 

Figure 1 Depiction of altmetrics for a journal article

ALTMETRICS IN THE JOURNAL OF THE MEDICAL LIBRARY ASSOCIATION

The JMLA’s new online platform makes use of PlumX, powered by Plum Analytics, to display a range of article-level metrics for each published article. PlumX divides these metrics into five categories:

  • usage (e.g., abstract views, HTML views, full-text views)
  • captures (e.g., Mendeley readers)
  • social media (e.g., tweets; Facebook shares, likes, and comments)
  • mentions (e.g., blog mentions, Reddit comments, Wikipedia links)
  • citations (e.g., Scopus, CrossRef)

A look at these metrics for articles published in the most recent year of the JMLA (July 2016 to April 2017) reveals that many articles have been used hundreds to thousands of times and frequently mentioned in social media. The articles receiving the highest amount of social media attention to date include:

  • “How Do Early Career Health Sciences Information Professionals Gain Competencies?” by Bethany A. Myers and Bredny Rodriguez [3] (106 Facebook likes, shares, and comments; 9 tweets)
  • “Impact of Librarians on Reporting of the Literature Searching Component of Pediatric Systematic Reviews” by Deborah Meert, Nazi Torabi, and John Costella [4] (53 tweets)
  • “Scoping Reviews: Establishing the Role of the Librarian” by Martin Morris, Jill T. Boruff, and Genevieve C. Gore [5] (39 tweets)
  • “De-Duplication of Database Search Results for Systematic Reviews in EndNote” by Wichor M. Bramer and colleagues [6] (29 tweets)

ARTICLE IMPACT ON PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

In the biomedical sciences, basic research is cited much more frequently than clinical research [7, 8], perhaps because basic research tends to prompt further basic research and/or clinical trials that are later published, whereas clinical research tends to change clinical practice. A similar divergence might occur in the field of library and information science, with articles published in more theoretically oriented information science journals receiving more citations than articles published in more practically oriented library journals like the JMLA. Thus, citations may not be the best measure of impact for articles that receive attention from readers who might not frequently contribute to the scholarly literature, such as practicing librarians and library students [9, 10]. Rather, by reflecting at least part of the online conversation about particular articles, altmetrics can provide a more encompassing view of the influence of articles on society, including their professional and educational impact.

DYNAMICS AND PREDICTIVE VALUE OF ALTMETRICS

Many studies aiming to understand the dynamics and predictive value of altmetrics have examined their temporal distribution and correlation with citations. For instance, one study reports that most tweets about an article occur in the first two days of its publication, with a plateau after five to seven days, demonstrating how quickly altmetrics reflect interest in an article [11]. Furthermore, the number of tweets is significantly predictive of the number of citations that an article will later receive [11], suggesting that mentions of an article in social media are a reasonably valid measure of its impact. However, there are notable differences in the magnitude of correlations between citations and different altmetric indicators, supporting the idea of different “flavors” of impact [12]. In general, traditional citations appear to be more strongly correlated with measures of article usage (i.e., views, downloads) and saves in social reference managers (e.g., Mendeley readers) and less strongly correlated with mentions in social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) or blogs [1315].

SELF-PROMOTION OF YOUR WORK

If you author an article in the JMLA, the day of its publication is undoubtedly a moment for celebration. However, we hope that your work will continue to resonate with readers long after it is published. A necessary first step, however, is to get your work into the hands (or eyes) of readers. Our team at the JMLA and the Medical Library Association (MLA) actively promote the contents of the JMLA through multiple avenues, including Twitter (@JrnlMedLibAssn), Facebook, and email announcements to MLA members and readers who are registered with the journal website. However, promoting your own work can go a long way toward drawing further attention to your article and thus expanding its audience and impact. To increase your article’s altmetrics, try the following:

  • Announce your article through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
  • Post about your article on a personal and/or institutional blog.
  • Deposit a copy of your article into your institutional repository.
  • Add article details to your ORCID, LinkedIn, Google Scholar, or other professional profile.
  • Email copies of your article to colleagues and other authors who have influenced your work.
  • Talk about your article at conferences.

Finally, we encourage you to include your article’s altmetrics on your CV or professional dossier [12] to provide evidence of the impact of your work on the thinking and practice of health sciences librarians and information specialists.

REFERENCES

1 Garfield E. The history and meaning of the journal impact factor. JAMA. 2006 Jan;295(1):90–3. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.295.1.90.
cross-ref  pubmed  

2 Priem J, Taraborelli D, Groth P, Neylon C. Altmetrics: a manifesto [Internet]. 26 Oct 2010 [cited 1 May 2017] <http://altmetrics.org/manifesto>.

3 Myers BA, Rodriguez B. How do early career health sciences information professionals gain competencies? J Med Libr Assoc. 2016 Jul;104(3):215–20. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.104.3.006.
cross-ref  pubmed  

4 Meert D, Torabi N, Costella J. Impact of librarians on reporting of the literature searching component of pediatric systematic reviews. J Med Libr Assoc. 2016 Oct;104(4):267–77. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.104.4.004.
cross-ref  pubmed  

5 Morris M, Boruff JT, Gore GC. Scoping reviews: establishing the role of the librarian. J Med Libr Assoc. 2016 Oct;104(4):346–54. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.104.4.020.
cross-ref  pubmed  

6 Bramer WM, Giustini D, de Jonge GB, Holland L, Bekhuis T. De-duplication of database search results for systematic reviews in EndNote. J Med Libr Assoc. 2016 Jul;104(4):240–3. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.104.3.014.
cross-ref  pubmed  

7 van Eck NJ, Waltman L, van Rann AFJ, Klautz RJM, Peul WC. Citation analysis may severely underestimate the impact of clinical research as compared to basic research. PLOS ONE. 2013 Apr;8(4):e62395. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0062395.
cross-ref  pubmed  

8 Opthof T. Differences in citation frequency of clinical and basic science papers in cardiovascular research. Med Biol Eng Comput. 2011 Jun;49(6):613–21. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11517-011-0783-6.
cross-ref  pubmed  

9 Pooladian A, Borrego Á. A longitudinal study of the bookmarking of library and information science literature in Mendeley. J Informetr. 2016 Nov;10(4):1135-42. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2016.10.003.
cross-ref  

10 Thelwall M. Why do papers have many Mendeley readers but few Scopus-indexed citations and vice versa? J Libr Inf Sci. 2015;1–8. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0961000615594867.

11 Eysenbach G. Can tweets predict citations? metrics of social impact based on Twitter and correlation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. J Med Internet Res. 2011 Oct–Dec;13(4):e123. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/jmir.2012.
cross-ref  pubmed  

12 Piwowar H, Priem J. The power of altmetrics on a CV. Bull Assoc Inf Sci Technol. 2013 Apr/May;39(4):10–3. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bult.2013.1720390405.
cross-ref  

13 Priem J, Piwowar HA, Hemminger BM. Altmetrics in the wild: using social media to explore scholarly impact [Internet]. [20 Mar 2012; cited 2 May 2017]. <https://arxiv.org/html/1203.4745>.

14 Yan KK, Gerstein M. The spread of scientific information: insights from the web usage statistics in PLOS article-level metrics. PLOS One 2011;6(5):e19917. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0019917.
cross-ref  pubmed  

15 Liu CL, Xu YQ, Wu H, Chen SS, Guo JJ. Correlation and interaction visualization of altmetric indicators extracted from scholarly social network activities: dimensions and structure. J Med Internet Res. 2013 Nov;15(11):e259. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/jmir.2707.
cross-ref  pubmed  


(Return to Top)


Katherine G. Akers, PhD, JMLA@journals.pitt.edu, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the Medical Library Association


Articles in this journal are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This journal is published by the University Library System of the University of Pittsburgh as part of its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program and is cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Press.


Journal of the Medical Library Association, VOLUME 105, NUMBER 3, July 2017

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Copyright (c) 2017 Katherine G. Akers

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.