What do researchers think about altmetrics and are they familiar with their abilities?

Primož Južnič, Polona Vilar, Tomaž Bartol


The rise of the Web 2.0 (Social web) has given the main incentive to the creation of altmetrics, which are social web metrics for academic purposes. They can, theoretically, be used in an evaluative role and as an information seeking aid, both tasks reserved until recently for traditional bibliometrics. If altmetrics are to be trusted then the claims about both of these tasks must be acceptable and verifiable. Regarding the growing number of scientific publications on altmetrics and its methods, researchers in the field of scientific metrics are now trying to assess this possibility as well. The question is which parts of these new metrics are acceptable for a scientific community? Decades were needed to establish a reasonable confidence in classical bibliometrical methods, such as citation analysis, so how long will it take for altmetrics to gain the same level of trust? This is an important although quite neglected topic. The paper presents a continuation of a survey on information behaviour of Slovenian researchers in 2011 on a random sample obtained from the complete list of researchers in Slovenia. The results confirm the already detected low level of use and acceptance of Web 2.0 tools among Slovenian researchers. On the other hand, the results also show a strong interest in altmetrics and the possibilities for alternative evaluation. This interest calls for further research into the possibilities offered by these new metrics. We need to explore the applicability, use and acceptance of altmetrics and its various possible sources and indicators in the scientific community. Also, we need to inform the scientists about these new possibilities. This should be an important task for all who are involved professionally (research or otherwise) in the field of scientific research evaluation.


Keywords: altmetrics, social web, bibliometrics, evaluation, scientific research



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