Measuring Scientific Impact Beyond Citation Counts

Robert M. Patton, Christopher G. Stahl and Jack C. Wells at DLib Magazine: “Measuring scientific progress remains elusive. There is an intuitive understanding that, in general, science is progressing forward. New ideas and theories are formed, older ideas and theories are confirmed, rejected, or modified. Progress is made. But, questions such as how is it made, by whom, how broadly, or how quickly present significant challenges. Historically, scientific publications reference other publications if the former publication in some way shaped the work that was performed. In other words, one publication “impacted” a latter one. The implication of this impact revolves around the intellectual content of the idea, theory, or conclusion that was formed. Several metrics such as h-index or journal impact factor (JIF) are often used as a means to assess whether an author, article, or journal creates an “impact” on science. The implied statement behind high values for such metrics is that the work must somehow be valuable to the community, which in turn implies that the author, article, or journal somehow has influenced the direction, development, or progress of what others in that field do. Unfortunately, the drive for increased publication revenue, research funding, or global recognition has lead to a variety of external factors completely unrelated to the quality of the work that can be used to manipulate key metric values. In addition, advancements in computing and data sciences field have further altered the meaning of impact on science.

The remainder of this paper will highlight recent advancements in both cultural and technological factors that now influence scientific impact as well as suggest new factors to be leveraged through full content analysis of publications….(More)”