The speed of alt-metrics presents the opportunity to create real-time recommendation and collaborative filtering systems: instead of subscribing to dozens of tables-of-contents, a researcher could get a feed of this week’s most significant work in her field. This becomes especially powerful when combined with quick “alt-publications” like blogs or preprint servers, shrinking the communication cycle from years to weeks or days. Faster, broader impact metrics could also play a role in funding and promotion decisions.
Alt-metrics expand our view of what impact looks like, but also of what’s making the impact. This matters because expressions of scholarship are becoming more diverse. Articles are increasingly joined by:
- The sharing of “raw science” like datasets, code, and experimental designs
- Semantic publishing or “nanopublication,” where the citeable unit is an argument or passage rather than entire article.
- Widespread self-publishing via blogging, microblogging, and comments or annotations on existing work.
Because alt-metrics are themselves diverse, they’re great for measuring impact in this diverse scholarly ecosystem. In fact, alt-metrics will be essential to sift these new forms, since they’re outside the scope of traditional filters. This diversity can also help in measuring the aggregate impact of the research enterprise itself.