THE CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF USING ALTMETRICS TO MEASURE RESEARCH OUTPUTS
AKINWANDE KAZEEM ABIODUN
A dissertation submitted in fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Library and Information Science
Kulliyyah of Information and Communication Technology International Islamic University Malaysia
Altmetrics is a new metric system that focuses on tracking online public engagements with any research output. The system is a new research metric and evaluation system that help researcher to identify and understand the amount of public engagement with their research outputs and get feedback on their research. The system provides accelerated feedback to researchers on the performance of their research and scholarly outputs shortly after the publication of such research outputs. This is done through the system’s data sources like Twitter, Facebook, Blog platforms, News platforms, Mendeley, CiteULike, Reddit, Web of Science, Scopus, and other social, academic, and research related platforms which the system track. This research investigated the challenges and prospects of using altmetrics to measure research outputs, views of researchers about altmetrics, and the ability of the system to evaluate research outputs.
The survey research design was adopted for this research with qualitative method of data collection using the semi-structured self-developed interview questions as the research instrument. The surveyed respondents were 7 professors in the fields of sciences and social sciences, and are expert researchers with minimum of 15 years of academic and research experiences. The results revealed that although, altmetrics is a novel metric system for research and scholarly outputs evaluation. Nonetheless, it is a welcome innovation that should be considered to track and evaluate the performance and amount of public engagement with research outputs based on its various prospects.
Further findings of the research also revealed that although, little seems to be known about the metric system among researchers in the studied institution for this research, however, the prospective adoption and use of the system by researchers and scholars comes with the benefit of early information about the performance and impact of their research outputs. Also, increased citation, increased visibility, ease of awareness about research outputs and comprehensives of the system’s data sources are some of the additional prospects of altmetrics as revealed by the findings of this research.
Meanwhile, some of the challenges that were identified as parts of the limitations of the system were lack of awareness about the system, word limit and related technical specifications on social media (Twitter and others), gaming, artificial download, sponsored like and share, robot tweeting and retweeting, IP routing and others. Hence, the research concluded and recommended that the system’s administrators should continuously strive to improve the system, especially the system’s social media data sources from time to time by ensuring quality control and adequate check and balances on the social media data sources and other related data sources of the system. More importantly, the system’s management should embark on active awareness and campaign drive to acquaint members of the public, especially the academicians, researchers, and scholars about the system and the related benefits that are attached to its adoption and use for tracking and evaluating the performance and impacts of their research outputs.
تريمتللأا نع ةرابع ماظنلا .ةيثبح تاجرمخ يأ عم تنترنلإا برع ةماعلا تاكراشلما عبتت ىلع زكري ديدج يترم ماظن وه
مهثابحأ تاجرمخ في روهملجا ةكراشم رادقم مهفو ديدتح ىلع ثحابلا دعاسي ثابحلأل ديدج مييقتو سايق ماظن لوصلحاو
مهثابحأ ىلع تابيقعت ىلع . ةزيجو ةترف دعب ةيملعلا متهاجرمخو مهثابحأ ءادأ لوح ينثحابلل ةعراستم لعف دودر ماظنلا رفوي لثم ، ماظنلا تناايب رداصم للاخ نم كلذ متي .ةيثحبلا تاجرخلما هذه رشن نم Twitter و Facebook و رابخلأا تاصنمو تناودلما تاصنم و Mendeley و CiteULike و Reddit و Web of Science و Scopus ثحبلا اذه في .ماظنلا اهعبتتي تيلا ةيثحبلاو ةييمداكلأاو ةيعامتجلاا تاصنلما نم اهيرغو
في قيقحتلا تم و ، ثوحبلا تاجرمخ سايقل عافترلاا سايقم مادختسا قافآو تيادحتلا
و سيياقم لوح ينثحابلا رظن تاهج
ظنلا ةردقو ، عافترلاا ةقيرطلا عم ثحبلا اذله يئاصقتسلاا ثحبلا ميمصت دامتعا تم .ثحبلا تاجرمخ مييقت ىلع ما
مهلشم نيذلا نوكراشلما ناك .ثبح ةادأك ريوطتلا ةيتاذ ةروطلما هبش ةلباقلما ةلئسأ مادختسبا تناايبلا عملج ةيعونلا علاطتسلاا 7
ثحبا مهو ، ةيعامتجلاا مولعلاو مولعلا تلاامج في ةذتاسأ مهيدل ءابرخ نو
تابرلخا نم لقلأا ىلع اًماع 15
ماظن يه عافترلاا سيياقم نأ نم مغرلا ىلع هنأ جئاتنلا تفشك .ةيثحبلاو ةييمداكلأا تريمتلأ
مييقتو ثحبلل ديدج
اجرمخ في ةماعلا ةكراشلما رادقمو ءادأ مييقتو عبتتل هتاعارم بيج هب بحرم راكتبا هنإ ، كلذ عم .ةيملعلا تاجرخلما ت
نم ليلقلا نأ ودبي هنأ نم مغرلا ىلع هنأ اًضيأ ثحبلا نم ىرخأ جئاتن تفشك .ةفلتخلما اهقافآ ىلع ًءانب ثوحبلا لأا ماظنلا لوح تامولعلما تريمتل
ماظنلل ينلمتلمحا مادختسلااو نيبتلا نأ لاإ ، ثحبلا اذله ةسوردلما ةسسؤلما في ينثحابلا ينب
م تييأ ءاملعلاو ينثحابلا لبق نم كلذ لىإ ةفاضلإبا .مهثابحأ تاجرمخ يرثتأو ءادأ لوح ةركبلما تامولعلما نم ةدافتسلاا ع
نم ضعب يه ماظنلا تناايب رداصم ةيلوشمو ثحبلا تاجرخبم يعولا ةلوهسو حوضولا ةديازو ديازتلما سابتقلإا نإف ، ثحبلا اذه جئاتن تفشك امك سايقلا عافترلا ةيفاضلإا تنااكملإا . تم تيلا تيادحتلا ضعب تناك ، هسف ن تقولا فيو ىلع ةلصلا تاذ ةينفلا تافصاولماو تاملكلل هب حومسلما دلحاو ،ماظنلبا يعولا مدع يه ماظنلا دويق نم ءازجأك اهديدتح يعامتجلاا لصاوتلا لئاسو (Twitter) توبو رو ، ةياعرب ةكراشلماو لثلماو ، يعانصلا ليزنتلاو ، باعللأاو ،اهير غو
هيجوتو IP اهيرغو . ،ماظنلا ينستح لىإ رارمتسبا ماظنلا ولوؤسم ىعسي نبأ ىصوأو ثحبلا صلخ دقف ، ثم نمو ةيفاك ةنزاومو صحفو ةدولجا ةبقارم نامض للاخ نم رخلآ تقو نم ماظنلل ةيعامتجلاا طئاسولا تناايب رداصم اميس لا
لأا تناايبلا رداصمو ةيعامتجلاا طئاسولا تناايب رداصم ىلع
ماظنلا ةلصلا تاذ ىرخ . نأ بيج ، كلذ نم مهلأاو
دئاوفلاو ماظنلا لوح ءاملعلاو ينثحابلاو ينييمداكلأا اميس لا ،روهملجا دارفأ فيرعتل طشنلا يعولا في ماظنلا ةرادإ عرشت تاجرمخ رثاآو ءادلأا مييقتو عبتتل همادختساو هدامتعبا ةطبترلما ةلصلا تاذ
I certify that I have supervised and read this study and that in my opinion, it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Master of Library and Information Science.
Roslina Othman Supervisor
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Master of Library and Information Science.
Nur Leyni Nilam Putri Junurham Examiner
This dissertation was submitted to the Department of Library and Information Science and is accepted as a fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Library and Information Science.
Head, Department of Library and Information Science
This dissertation was submitted to the Kulliyyah of Information and Communication Technology and is accepted as a fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Library and Information Science.
Abdul Wahab Bin Abdul Rahman Dean, Kulliyyah of Information and Communication Technology
I hereby declare that this dissertation is the result of my own investigations, except where otherwise stated. I also declare that it has not been previously or concurrently submitted as a whole for any other degrees at IIUM or other institutions.
Akinwande Kazeem Abiodun
Signature………. Date………... 24/07/2019
INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA
DECLARATION OF COPYRIGHT AND AFFIRMATION OF FAIR USE OF UNPUBLISHED RESEARCH
THE CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF USING ALTMETRICS TO MEASURE RESEARCH OUTPUTS
I declare that the copyright holder of this dissertation is jointly owned by the student and IIUM.
Copyright © 2019 Akinwande Kazeem Abiodun and International Islamic University Malaysia. All rights reserved.
No part of this unpublished research may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder except as provided below
1. Any material contained in or derived from this unpublished research may only be used by others in their writing with due acknowledgment.
2. IIUM or its library will have the right to make and transmit copies (print or electronic) for institutional and academic purpose.
3. The IIUM library will have the right to make, store in a retrieval system and supply copies of this unpublished research if requested by other universities and research libraries.
By signing this form, I acknowledged that I have read and understood the IIUM Intellectual Property Right and Commercialization policy.
Affirmed by Akinwande Kazeem Abiodun
This dissertation is dedicated to my uncle – Engineer Akinwande Atanda Musiliu. For his love and immeasurable supports. For nurturing me this far. Jazaak Allah Khairan.
All glory is due to Allah, the Almighty, whose Grace and Mercies have been with me throughout the duration of my programme. Yes, it has been taxing. However, His Mercies and Blessings on me ease the herculean task of completing this dissertation and my MLIS journey.
My sincere and deepest gratitude goes to each and every member of my family. For the love and support in the bid to attain my academic goals. You all mean so much to me.
I really do hope and pray that I should be able to make it up for all of you someday.
Thank you for everything.
My immeasurable gratitude goes to my supervisor (a mother) and an academician par excellence – Prof Dr Roslina Othman. For her support, guidance, thorough supervisory roles, constructive criticisms and positive feedbacks on this dissertation. May the Almighty Allah continue to be kind to her and her family. May her children find the favour and mercy of people wherever they go.
I appreciate the Head of Department, Library and Information Science – Prof Dr Roslina Othman. For being available at all times to satisfy our academic and administrative needs and for providing moral supports when necessary. Jazaak Allah Khairan.
I sincerely appreciate all the academic and non academic staff in the Department of Library and Information Science starting from Assoc. Prof Dr Roosfa Hashim, Dr Noor Hasrul Nizan, Dr Nur Leyni Nilam Putri Bt. Junurham, Dr Sharifah Nur Amirah Bt.
Sarif Abdullah to Dr Nor Saadah Md Nor and Madam Martini. For the worthwhile opportunity of tapping from their wealth of academic and administrative experiences.
May the Almighty Allah continue to increase you in knowledge and understanding Sir(s)/Ma’am(s).
I equally thank the Dean, Kulliyyah of Information and Communication Technology – Prof Dr Abdul Wahab Bin Abdul Rahman and Deputy Dean, Postgraduate and Research – Assoc. Prof Dr Abdul Rahman Bin Ahlan for facilitating a conducive learning environment for us to learn and for their swift attention to our issues of academic, research, and administrative concerns. Likewise, all administrative staff of the Kulliyyah.
In a similar manner, I thank and appreciate all my colleagues during my course of study in the department. Starting from Ainin Soffia Husain, Siti Dalila Abdullah, Nurul Aini Binti Nor Yazid, Suada Abdulwahab, to Mahfooz Ahmed and others. For the opportunity of academic interactions and discussions.
Special thanks to Prof Dr Roslina Othman, Head, Semantic Body of Knowledge and Technology Research Unit, Kulliyyah of Information and Communication Technology, International Islamic University, Malaysia and members of the Research Unit. For granting me the opportunity to use the research laboratory facilities while conducting this research and for the financial support to participate in the Seminar of Information
Retrieval and Knowledge Management 2018 where I presented an extended abstract of this study.
My sincere gratitude goes to Bro. Kazeem Ogunsola, Abdurrahman Bello Onifade, Assoc. Prof Dr Rashidah Olanrewaju, Prof Dr Jamal Ahmed Badi, Dr Lookman Adebiyi, Bro. Fawwaz Eniola, Bro. Yusuf, Bro. Yusuf Ali Omooba, Dr Musa Hussein, Dr Barr. Tijani, Bro. Salahuddin Salahuddin Olasubomi, Bro. Zaharadeen, Bro. Yakub, Bro. Mohammad Shadab Khan, Sr. Hannah Alqaidoom, Asri, and others that I forgot to mention. For their academic, moral and emotional support during the course of my programme.
Lastly, I appreciate all the professors that responded as the interviewees for this research and the Centre for Postgraduate Studies, International Islamic University Malaysia for considering me as one of the recipients for the PG Assistantship that covered my tuition and recurrent academic fee for Semester 2, 2018/2019 academic session.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Abstract ... ii
Abstract in Arabic ... iii
Approval Page ... iv
Declaration ... v
Copyright Page ... vi
Dedication ... vii
Acknowledgements ... viii
List of Tables ... xii
List of Figures ... xiii
Abbreviations ... xiv
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ... 1
1.1 Background of the Study ... 1
1.1.1 Altmetrics ... 2
1.2 Statement of the Problem... 6
1.3 Research Objectives... 7
1.4 Research Questions ... 7
1.5 Significance of the Study ... 8
1.6 Definitions of Terms ... 10
1.7 Methodology ... 11
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW ... 12
2.1 Introduction... 12
2.2 Overview on Altmetrics ... 13
2.3 Altmetrics Data Sources ... 17
2.4 Standard of Altmetrics for Research Outputs Evaluation... 25
2.5 Limitations of Altmetrics ... 29
2.6 Concerns of Researchers about Altmetrics ... 34
2.7 Prospects of Altmetrics ... 37
2.8 Chapter Summary ... 39
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ... 47
3.1 Introduction... 47
3.2 Research Design ... 47
3.3 The Population ... 50
3.4 Sampling and Sample Size ... 51
3.5 Data Collection Procedure ... 52
3.5.1 Validation ... 52
3.5.2 Actual Survey ... 53
3.6 Description of Instrument ... 53
3.6.1 Interview Questions ... 55
3.6.2 Data Collection Method ... 55
3.7 Data Analysis Method ... 56
3.8 Chapter Summary ... 56
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION OF
RESULTS ... 57
4.1 Introduction... 57
4.2 Qualitative Interpretations of Results ... 57
4.2.1 Previous Research Works on Altmetrics ... 58
4.2.2 Classification of the Interviewees According to their fields ... 60
4.2.3 Interviewees Years of Academic and Research Experience ... 61
4.3 Researchers’ Views About Altmetrics... 62
4.4 Assessment of Altmetrics as a Metric System for Research Outputs ... 67
4.5 Prospects of Altmetrics as a Metric System for Research Outputs ... 74
4.6 Results of the Validation of Findings ... 79
CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION ... 80
5.1 Introduction... 80
5.2 Summary ... 80
5.3 Conclusion ... 82
5.4 Recommendations... 84
5.5 Contributions to Knowledge ... 86
5.6 Limitations of the study ... 86
5.7 Directions for Future Research ... 87
REFERENCES ... 88
APPENDIX A: MAPPING OF RESEARCH PROCESS ... 92
APPENDIX B: DRAFTED PERMISSION LETTER TO CONDUCT INTERVIEW ... 94
APPENDIX C: CONSENT FORM FOR INTERVIEW ... 95
APPENDIX D: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ... 96
APPENDIX E: FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF INTERVIEWEES’ RESPONSES ... 98
APPENDIX F: THE ALTMETRICS GUIDE... 119
LIST OF TABLES
Table No Page No
2.1 Classification of the altmetrics data sources 21 2.2 How altmetrics track information across each of its data sources 22 2.3 Overview of the literature reviewed for chapter 2 of this study 42 3.1 Classification of the interviewees according to their Kulliyyah 52
3.2 Interview structure 55
4.1 Classification of the interviewees according to their fields 60 4.2 Interviewees years of academic and research experience 61 4.3 Responses of the interviewees on their awareness and knowledge
of altmetrics 63
4.3.1 Responses of the interviewees on the ability of altmetrics measure
research outputs 65
4.4 Responses of the interviewees on the authenticity of social media and its acceptability as standard sources for research evaluation 68 4.4.1 Responses of the interviewees on their use of social media to
share their research outputs 71
4.4.2 Disposition of the interviewees towards the adoption of altmetrics
to track their research outputs 73
4.5 Responses of the interviewees on the prospects of altmetrics as
a metric system for research outputs 75
4.6 Statements of validations by the interviewees 79
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure No. Page No
2.1 The first recorded use of the term altmetrics 14 2.2 Altmetrics research output attention score display page 19 2.3 Interpretations of the altmetrics donut colors and attention score 20 2.4 Flowchart on how researchers, institutions, publishers and
research funders can use the altmetrics system to track their
research outputs 23
2.5 Flowchart on how to access information on public engagement and performance of research outputs tracked by altmetrics for
researchers and members of the public 24
3.1 Research Design 49
3.2 Selection Criteria 50
ACUMEN Academic Careers Understood through Measurement and Norms AROSIM Altmetrics for Research Outputs Measurement and Scholarly
Information Management CAI Computer-Assisted Interview DOI Digital Object Identifier EBSCO Elton B. Stephens Co.
HEFCE Higher Education Funding Council for England HTML Hypertext Markup Language
IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers IIUM International Islamic University Malaysia RePEc Research Papers in Economics (USA) REF Research Excellence Framework
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Research outputs are the results of systematic approaches to investigative attempts to gain an understanding of different phenomena. They are evidence of scholarly contributions to the academic, scholarly communities and the public which are usually borne out of creativity, innovation and the zeal to provide solutions to issues of curiosity, concern, and phenomenon.
Research and scholarly outputs help to increase or enhance the knowledge of members of society about existing problems and issues of national and international concerns. They serve as forms of contributions to knowledge and the subsequent use of the knowledge to develop new applications and systems which can help provide solutions to the identified existing problem or an identified future problem. Research outputs help to enhance the knowledge and understanding of members of the society about a studied phenomenon.
The importance, values, contributions and the impacts of research in various forms are too numerous to mention. Hence, the need for their metric in order to understand how well they are helping to shape the society and how well they are meeting the objectives and bases of their conduction, creation, and innovation.
These contributions can be measured and assessed in various forms. Parts of which are through the traditional metric systems which among are; informed peer review, citation counts of researchers and researches citing other researchers and researches, h-index aggregation of researchers and scholars’ contributions to
knowledge, impact factor assessment of researchers and scholars’ research and scholarly outputs in the society. Others are; Eigen factor, article-level metrics, impact story, cross-referencing and other forms of metric systems that are used to determine the impact and performance of researchers, scholars and their research and scholarly outputs in their immediate fields and the general public. Not leaving out the most recently developed innovated approach to research and scholarly output measurement and evaluation – altmetrics – which is the focused metric system of study for this research.
The global uprise of digital communications and networked activities have brought about the emergence of open communications which have shaped the way by which research outputs are accessed and evaluated. As such, research relevance in the academic and non-academic community are now being evaluated through various metric systems that have become as important as every other area of academic, research and development activities.
Metric is no doubt a measure of how researchers and academics are expected to portray their contributions to the academic and research communities, which is also an adjudgment of their relevance. The attachment of scholarly outputs’ metric results as requisites for grants consideration and career promotion for academicians and researchers is no doubt an addition to buttress the fact that research and scholarly outputs measurement and evaluation is an inseparable part of the academic and research community.
The constant innovations and trends on how research outputs are expected to be evaluated, especially with the unending developments in information technology have
brought about debates on what a standard metric for assessing scholarly outputs should be like in this contemporary period. This among other factors is the basis for the emergence of a pool of metric systems which have expanded over time, in line with the changes in scholarly outputs communication. Significant among these pool of emerging metric systems is altmetrics which is a new and emerging research and scholarly outputs metric system that attempts to evaluate research and captures information about research outputs beyond the academically recognized platforms.
Altmetrics is a web-based metric that attempts to measure and evaluate research and scholarly outputs beyond the scholarly realms. It is a system that goes farther to gather information on discussions about research outputs from sources like Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and others for research and scholarly outputs evaluation. What makes altmetrics different is its adoption of sources beyond the recognized traditional sources in academics for research output evaluation and its capitalization on the nexus between research activities and the opportunities to publish and publicize research outputs on the social media platforms, which is an opportunity afforded by the web 2.0 innovation.
Social media is an aspect of web 2.0 technology that allows people to connect, interact and share knowledge on similar and diverse areas. The media is characterized as a user-generated content platform that gives its members the opportunity to produce, store and share information and knowledge (Noordin, Othman, & Rassa, 2018).
Altmetrics, simply, is the shortened form of ‘alternative metrics’ and it is a research outputs metric system which evaluates research outputs based on the information obtained about such outputs from its adopted sources of data like Web of Science, Scopus, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Mendeley, CiteULike, and other platforms.
While indexed journals, informed peer reviews, citation counts and impact factors have become standard and accepted methods for measuring the impact of a research on other
research, there is yet an accepted system with which the impact of research outputs on the society and their engagement in platforms beyond the scholarly community are to be evaluated.
Hence, the factor that brought about the invention of altmetrics to address the need for a system which can reliably measure the impact of research on other areas of the society, as opposed to only the academic community, with the primary aim of bringing to the fore of the society the interaction between research outputs and societal stakeholders.
Currently, a lot of attention is being paid to how altmetrics is being used to study and evaluate scholarly publications. Advocates of this new approach claim that altmetrics have numerous benefits compared to the conventional methods of research outputs measurement and evaluation. To buttress this, Wouters and Costas (2012), in their study identified four arguments in support of the alternative metrics system. These include; the diversity of its data sources adopted for research outputs measurements and evaluation, its speed of retrieving data from the sources, its transparency, and its ability to assess research outputs beyond the scholarly realm.
Altmetrics as a metric system can be used to evaluate diverse research outputs and scholarly objects. More so, part of the reasons why researchers, institutions, publishers, corporations, educators and students, government and policymakers, and research and project funders adopt the altmetrics system to measure and evaluate their research outputs and scholarly objects include but not limited to the facts that altmetrics offers new ways of interpreting the effect of the interaction between research outputs and the scholarly and non-scholarly community.
Aside from this, the adoption and utilization of altmetrics also come with added benefits and prospects like early access to information about the performance and
impacts of one’s research outputs. In addition, it affords its subscribers the benefit of access to information about the social; health, arts and humanity, commercial, and educational impacts of their research outputs from the academic and non-academic platforms. These among other advantages and prospects of altmetrics are what users of altmetrics stand to benefit by using the system to assess their research and scholarly objects.
However, despite these advantages and prospects, there are some challenges that pose impediments to its adoption and general acceptance as a standard metric system for research outputs in the academic environment. Some among these challenges include the argument that social media and blog platforms, being parts of the sources adopted by altmetrics for gathering information about research outputs are not authentic and are not accepted as standard sources in the academic community. Another argument is that it is difficult to verify user identity on social media. Hence, makes it easier to generate downloads, likes, mentions, shares, views, and tweets easily from fake profiles, sponsored profiles, and robots.
Furthermore, it was also argued that researchers can get their researches liked and shared by friends and acquaintances on the social media which may not necessarily signify the societal impact and high quality of such research outputs. Also, that academicians rarely use social media and those who do rarely put their research outputs on their profiles.
Sequel to this arguments and observations on altmetrics and altmetrics data sources, this research will investigate the challenges and prospects that come with the adoption and use of altmetrics to measure and evaluate research outputs and scholarly objects. While doing this, the views and opinions of expert researchers in the academia
would be sought in this regard, with conclusion, recommendations, and suggestion for further study provided at the end of the research.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The development of altmetrics for research outputs evaluation, and as an alternative or complementary system to the existing traditional bibliometrics systems, no doubt comes with some opportunities that are not available in the other metrics. In spite of that, researchers and scholars alike are yet to generally accept the system and perceive the metric system and most especially, its social media data sources as less standard and incapable as a metric system for research outputs evaluation.
These scholars and researchers argue against and express their indifference about the adoption of social media platforms like Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and others by altmetrics as sources for gathering information for research outputs evaluation. With part of the critics of the sources being that social media have no quality control measures and offers no standard procedure to checkmate fake profiles and fake identities. Hence, they observe that it would be easier to generate high altmetric scores for any given researcher or article. This is from the observations that likes, views, tweets, shares, and downloads can be generated through fake accounts, robots, and through friends and acquaintances, which may not necessarily signify the societal impact and high value of such research.
Furthermore, it was also argued that academicians rarely use social media and those who do rarely share their research on the platforms. As such, it will be difficult for altmetrics to adjudged scholars who don’t share or tweet their research on social media as not publishing or not contributing to the academic and research communities.
As an addition, a study by Cronin (2013) observes that as at present, neither
tweets and mentions on Twitter nor likes and shares on Facebook are accepted in the academic environment as evidence of scholarly contributions. With the view that an academician is not going to be promoted in his/her university or place of work for having been liked a lot on Facebook or Twitter.
Sequel to the above, this research will investigate the challenges and prospects that come with the adoption and use of altmetrics for measuring research outputs. In addition to that, this research will also look into the standard of altmetrics as a metric system for research outputs evaluation and essentially seeks to confirm if gathering data from social media sources like Blogs, Facebook and Twitter are reliable sources for data collection as adopted by altmetrics.
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The main objective of this research is to examine the standard of social media sources of data collection by altmetrics. The other objectives of this research are:
i. To examine research works on altmetrics;
ii. To examine researchers’ view about altmetrics,
iii. To assess altmetrics as a metric system for research outputs, and iv. To identify the prospects of altmetrics.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions will guide this research:
1. What are the previous works of researchers on altmetrics?
2. Can altmetrics measure research outputs?
3. To what extent can altmetrics’ results be interpreted?
4. How can altmetrics be a prospect metric for research outputs?
8 1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Many researchers, universities, institutions, corporations, educators and students, government and policy makers, agencies, special interest groups, publishers and research funders stand to benefit from the use of altmetrics systems and practices as a means of research dissemination, and determination of their impacts and engagements in the scholarly community and the public. Altmetrics can provide diverse benefits to the aforementioned stakeholders, some of which are: a more detailed account of academic contributions and societal impacts of their researchers, research outputs, and publications.
Understanding the details of the interactions between research outputs and the general public provide researchers and other stakeholders with relevant information needed by them to make important academic-related decisions on appointments and promotion. It also equips research funders, corporations, government and policy makers and other agencies with the necessary information needed to determine what project to fund or which researcher is contributing and making impacts in the academic and general public. Hence, should be awarded research grants.
This research among other things will investigate the awareness and utilisation of altmetrics as a system for measurement and evaluation of research impacts by researchers, institutions, publishers and research funders, and the effectiveness of social media platforms being among the sources of data collection by altmetrics in evaluating research outputs.
Upon completion, this research will help to draw the attention of researchers and other stakeholders to the trends in the adoption and utilisation of altmetrics for measuring research outputs. Also, it will serve as a feedback mechanism for the
funder(s), management and administrators of altmetrics in assessing the views and perceptions of researchers and other stakeholders about altmetrics and its performance.
In addition, the findings of this research will be of immense benefit to researchers, academicians, institutions, publishers, and research funders. In such a way that it increases their knowledge about altmetrics and why they should or should not accept the system as a metric system for evaluating the impacts of their research outputs and scholarly objects.
Meanwhile, it is important to state that, although, this research is exploratory research. Nonetheless, upon its completion, it would be the first extensive research on altmetrics in Malaysia. Several attempts to retrieve journal articles and research outputs about altmetrics and altmetrics study with the search terms “Altmetrics” AND
“Malaysia” from numerous databases and sources like Emerald; EBSCO Discovery Services, EBSCO Open Dissertations, IEEE Xplore Digital Library, IIUM Discovery Services, JSTOR, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, Science Direct, Scopus, and Wiley Online Library proved abortive. Which shows that so far, nothing has been done on the system in Malaysia. Except for the study of Abrizah, et al., (2016) with the title – “Not so different after all: Malaysia researchers’ cross-discipline view of quality and trustworthiness in citation practices” which was retrieved from the Wiley Online Library database and which discussed researchers’ citations patterns and citing behaviours on the basis of high altmetrics score and other social judgments like;
mentions, like and use as not prevalent.
Also, an unofficial survey of some educators, researchers, and Postgraduate students in the International Islamic University Malaysia show that so many of the surveyed respondents are not aware of the term and what it does. This among other reasons is why this research will be of great significance in helping to acquaint the
academic community in the International Islamic University Malaysia about the term and increases their knowledge about what the system does and aims to achieve.
1.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Some important terms used in this chapter are defined as follows:
Altmetrics is a web-based metric system that attempts to evaluate research outputs beyond the scholarly realms. It is an emerging metric system that gathers information about research outputs beyond the sources adopted by the traditional metrics like h- index and citation counts. Altmetrics significantly focus on the discussions and interactions between research output, its author/publisher and members of the public on the social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs. Then, altmetrics gathers information from the discussions in these sources to evaluate the performance and impact of such research. Other sources adopted for altmetrics data collection include Mendeley, Reddit, CiteULike, news blogs, policy documents, and others.
This encompasses the statistical analysis of books, articles, and other publications in order to determine their citation counts and impacts in the scholarly community.
A research output is any scholarly item produced by a researcher, academician, institution, corporation, government and policy maker, agency, special interest group, educators, student, publisher, and research funder. As evidence of their scholarly