Whiteboard with notes from SCI 2016 HuMetrics team

SCI 2016 has concluded, planning for SCI 2017 is underway

The 2016 Scholarly Communication Institute is over, though the projects and relationships nurtured here are just beginning.

SCI participants documented the experience and their ideas in real time, mostly on Twitter, but also in blog posts and shared documents. Here are some highlights from the week, and information about projects that were launched:

Planning will soon begin for SCI 2017. One of the things we’ll need to decide is what the overall theme/topic will be for next year (see this year’s for an example). We’d like to hear your suggestions for this! Please send them to scholcomm-institute@duke.edu or leave a comment below. We expect to announce a new RFP in January. Check back on trianglesci.org or @TriangleSCI for the announcement then.

A big thanks again to everybody who participated, and especially to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making this possible and to our partners at Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Triangle Research Libraries Network, the National Humanities Center, and the American Council of Learned Societies for their work to make it a success.

HuMetrics: Building Humane Metrics for the Humanities

This is the second in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2016, and their projects. This one was submitted by Nicky Agate.

Stained glass window spiral

What are the goals of your project and how do they fit the theme of this year’s Institute?

As Martin Paul Eve writes of current metrics systems in “Metrics in the Arts and Humanities,” “They are a quantification of a symbolic capital that maps onto material capital.” We approach this year’s Institute with the goal of finding a way to measure a humane metrics, that is, in a way to expose a broader sense of value or worth that goes beyond quantitative measures that speak only to the market. We want to answer a number of questions that have left scholars serious about the promise of impact metrics for the humanities unsatisfied:

  • If we start from the premise that citation metrics are insufficient to understand academic impact in the humanities and that, at the same time, more extensive alternative metrics that measure the popularity, trendiness, or authorial stamp of a given piece of scholarship cannot alone indicate quality, where does that leave us?
  • What of the obscure scholarship that uncovers major new territory within its field when that field is extremely small?
  • How can we ensure that it is not only the importance of the loudly public that is measured?
  • How are we to make claims for the value of non-traditional scholarly communication in the humanities? How do we gather metrics that value the entire lifecycle of scholarly production rather than just the end results?
  • If existing altmetrics can only measure the impact of something published online — and if they require a Digital Object Identifier or other persistent identifier(s) — what alternatives might we envision?
  • How can we incentivize openness and public availability so that scholars working outside the framework of traditional scholarly publishing are rewarded for their contributions to advancing knowledge in their discipline?

Illustration of statistics and people

Who is on your team, and what are you hoping they will contribute to the project?

Our team offers extensive experience representing a broad array of stakeholders: scholarly societies, altmetrics organizations, university administration, open access repositories, funding agencies, and academic libraries. We believe it is essential to bring these people together to discuss not only how we should measure scholarly impact (and what we should be measuring), but how we can assure such metrics play a role in tenure and promotion cases, grantmaking, and library assessment in a systematic rather than an ad-hoc way.

Nicky Agate is project manager for digital initiatives at the Modern Language Association, where she manages MLA Commons, the CORE repository, and Humanities Commons.

Rebecca Kennison is a principal at the non-profit organization K|N Consultants and co-founder of the Open Access Network (OAN).

Stacy Konkiel is the Outreach and Engagement Manager at Altmetric, a data science company that uncovers the attention that research receives online.

Christopher Long is the dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University.

Jason Rhody recently joined the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) as director of the Digital Culture program, which focuses on scholarly communication, digital methods, and transparency in social science research.

Simone Sacchi is the Research and Scholarship Initiatives Manager at the Center of Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University.

What do you look forward to most from SCI, and what do you hope to accomplish through the Institute?

We look forward to engaging in rich conversation about how we might develop more humane ways of documenting the impact and quality of humanities scholarship.

Ideally, our work will form the basis of an inclusive and open system that allows for evolving conceptions of scholarly communication and academic impact, one that can help funding agencies, research administrators, and individual researchers better understand the depth and breadth of the impact of humanities scholarship in public and private sectors alike.

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