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Measure for Measure: Altmetrics (June 2017): Getting a Grip—Handbooks and Guides

By Beth Juhl

Getting a Grip—Handbooks and Guides

Delivering on its subtitle, Meaningful Metrics: A 21st-Century Librarian’s Guide to Bibliometrics, Altmetrics, and Research Impact, by Robin Chin Roemer (Univ. of Washington) and Rachel Borchardt (American Univ.), offers a comprehensive overview of tools and methodologies as well as practical advice for librarians hoping to raise awareness of the promise and the pitfalls of metrics on their campuses. Though aimed at academic librarians, Meaningful Metrics is a highly readable and thorough guide for any interested reader. The authors previously produced a freely available “Altmetrics” basic overview in Library Technology Reports covering much of the same territory, and they recommended websites and readings in two earlier, brief essays also published by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), “From Bibliometrics to Altmetrics” and “Keeping Up with ... Altmetrics.”

In the UK, several authors affiliated with the Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group at the University of Wolverhampton produced monographs touching on both traditional bibliometrics and alternative measures. Of these, Kim Holmberg’s Altmetrics for Information Professionals: Past, Present and Future provides a slim but well-documented survey of the development and potential of the new metrics, while David Stuart’s Web Metrics for Library and Information Professionals travels farther afield to address link analysis, full-text queries, analysis of web logs, and big data. Michael Thelwall, who leads the Wolverhampton research group, has published two works aimed at social scientists and information professionals in publisher Morgan and Claypool’s “Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services” ebook series: Introduction to Webometrics: Quantitative Web Research for the Social Sciences and Web Indicators for Research Evaluation: A Practical Guide. Andy Tattersall (Univ. of Sheffield) has edited Altmetrics: A Practical Guide for Librarians, Researchers, and Academics, with essays contributed from such leaders in the altmetrics movement as Euan Adie (founder and CEO of Altmetric) and William Gunn (formerly at Mendeley, and now directing scholarly communications at Elsevier).

Greg Tananbaum’s Article-Level Metrics: A SPARC Primer, posted on the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) website of the same name, compares journal and emerging article metrics, offering observations on potential applications and limitations. One can find examples of how library staff are integrating altmetrics into instruction and outreach programs, along with sample library guides, reports, and service descriptions from Association of Research Libraries (ARL) members in Ruth Lewis and coauthors’ Scholarly Output Assessment Activities, part of ARL’s long-standing “SPEC Kit” series. And some of the clearest, most straightforward introductions to altmetrics can be found in academic librarians’ freely accessible library guides (e.g., from the University of Pittsburgh and Utrecht University), or ACRL’s pertinent LibGuide called Scholarly Communication Toolkit. Vendors, too, supply practical guides for advocates planning workshops and doing outreach, or using altmetrics in collection development, for example Altmetrics for Librarians: 100+ Tips, Tricks, and Examples, by Stacey Konkiel and coauthors.