(22 September 2016, Baltimore, MD) The National Information Standards Organization has published NISO RP-25-2016, Outputs of the NISO Alternative Assessment Project. This recommended practice on altmetrics, an expansion of the tools available for measuring the scholarly impact of research in the knowledge environment, was developed by working groups that were part of NISO’s Altmetrics Initiative, a project funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The document outlines altmetrics definitions and use cases, alternative outputs in scholarly communications, data metrics, and persistent identifiers in scholarly communications. This guidance was necessary because, before the project began, scholars had long expressed dissatisfaction with traditional measures of success, such as the Impact Factor, but needed standards relating to other viable assessment methods.
Outputs of the NISO Alternative Assessment Project represents the culmination of work that began with brainstorming sessions in 2013 and that included multiple in-person and virtual meetings, a white paper, conference presentations that gathered community input, and votes on draft documents by NISO’s voting membership. The effort built on NISO’s strength as a consensus-seeking organization to bring multiple perspectives, nuances, and needs into one set of recommendations upon which the scholarly community can rely. Scholars will find that the recommended practice addresses high-level ideas, such as the need for guidance on altmetrics, but also provides granular information on such topics as how the various metrics-providing vendors generate their data. Users of metrics will also find templates for starting work at their own institutions, as the intent is for the recommended practice to make altmetrics more widely used and more approachable than previously. Institutions can begin to apply these new metrics with greater confidence in their development, data gathering, and application.
“NISO is proud to contribute to the advancement of new assessment forms that encourage extensions of scholarly communication forms and methods,” said Executive Director Todd Carpenter. “Over the past three years, we have been able to bring together experts from throughout the scholarly publishing and assessment communities to expand the toolset available to review the impact of researchers’ work. Consensus-building is always a challenging endeavor, but it is considerably more so in a domain that could influence important advancement, funding, and recognition decisions. The thoughts around altmetrics when we began this initiative in 2013 were only vaguely formed. It has been exciting to watch the project grow from very nascent understandings of altmetrics, to a place of greater understanding of just how rich altmetrics are and how they can be applied.” Carpenter continued, “it’s my hope that the recommendations that our working groups so carefully crafted will guide users toward optimal uses of the newly available data that can be such a benefit to their careers and institutions.”
Euan Adie, Founder and CEO, Altmetric, commented that, “We had some misgivings at the beginning of the process [in 2013] as it seemed too early for stakeholders or providers to contribute in a meaningful way, but actually the results turned out to be sensible and useful. NISO very ably guided the process and I don’t think the community could have pulled anything like this together without them. The market has responded very positively, and in my opinion what got produced is helping both the understanding and uptake of alternative metrics. Furthermore, from a supplier’s perspective, the Data Quality Code of Conduct has been very useful to lay down ground rules for future product development.”
“The NISO Altmetrics project was announced at a time when the field was still in a very active stage of development,” noted Mike Taylor, formerly Senior Product Manager, Informetrics, Elsevier, and now Head of Metrics Development, Digital Science. “Despite that,” he observed, “the project enabled experts in the community to have structured conversations around (a) what work was in a sufficiently mature state to publish recommendations, (b) what emerging behavior and research outputs were sufficiently similar to existing ones to ‘borrow’ standards, (c) what indicators about data quality could be usefully published, and (d) tackling some of the issues of emerging vocabulary.” Taylor continued, “For me, one of the important outcomes was the opportunity to link many diverse and unconnected working groups into a developing network of stakeholders. There will be much future work to emerge from this network.”
The announcement in full is here.