Recalculating impact with new, big data9 Nov 2012 Filed under: Research Productivity
Part II - Interviews with David Main (Swets) and Dr Victor Henning (Mendeley)
The importance of statistics
The real value of the data contained within Mendeley’s extensive database resides in the organic filtering that takes place when each user uploads their citations and annotations. With reading and sharing information sitting alongside this the Mendeley Institutional Edition (MIE) begins to paint a detailed and precise picture of the modern research landscape. As more users join the platform, so the data possibilities increase as well.
“Big data has become a hot topic in our industry lately, but the amount of data contained within Mendeley is quite staggering,” says David Main. “It truly is a gold mine of usage and trending information. Extracting that data and presenting it in a digestible fashion is where the complexity comes in. Together, we decided to focus on initially giving libraries a deeper visibility and understanding of their own content use and the impact of their institution’s research output."
“The statistics at the heart of the MIE provide valuable information to librarians and research directors but it’s important to us that researchers’ don’t think of this as another ‘Big Brother’ tool where institutions are simply spying on the activities of researchers,” says Victor Henning. “Particularly when judging the impact of research across the Mendeley community.”
Universities, and indeed individual authors, are under increasing pressure to demonstrate outreach of their research. As such, Journal Impact Factor analysis is currently essential to the journal collection management process for most libraries. Measuring that impact is something that relies heavily on the amount of citations a journal receives.
“The problem with how Impact Factor metrics are created at the moment is simply the amount of time it takes to accumulate data,” says Henning. “In many scientific disciplines, for example, everything from what grants are given, to who gets tenure or who is employed can depend upon whether you have been published in Impact Factor journals like Science and Nature. Currently there’s at least a two year gap between when an article is published and when a citation is picked up. The statistics we provide eliminate that delay and provide instant, real-time feedback on the readership and usage of research.”
Mendeley are looking to provide an alternative measure of impact, one that takes its information directly from the digital environmenthat scholars and researchers are actively using. Mendeley users can uncover the breadth and depth of a paper’s impact among the research community as it is happening.
“Mendeley is committed to streamlining the workflow of researchers and expanding the reach and impact of their work. We are committed to both researchers and their institutions", says David Main. “The data stored in Mendeley and presented through the MIE can bring benefits to both sides. Being able to measure the real-time impact of an author’s paper could potentially improve the careers and reputations of many of today’s researchers and in turn their institutions. Clearly, having just the current impact factors is insufficient; just look at all the talk and discussion around alt-metrics. A core part of what we’re looking to do is provide libraries with as much ammunition as they need to validate the content purchases they make and help identify additional content that their researchers require.”
Watch out the for third part in this series, due to be published on Monday 19th November. You can always sign up for it to be delivered to your inbox directly - just add your email address here.