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Saturday, September 14 • 4:46pm - 6:30pm
“Sooner or later?: The diffusion and adoption of social media metrics to measure scholarly productivity in LIS faculty”

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Social media has had a profound effect on the academic enterprise, providing scholarswith opportunities to connect with likeminded colleagues down the hallway or around theglobe. These technologies also provide opportunities for academics to promote their workby bringing attention to their publications and other research products. While traditionalresearch impact measures such as citation counts and the h-index are commonly used inacademic tenure and promotion decisions, to date social media presence plays little or norole in assessing scholarly impact. Nevertheless, some scholars entrepreneurially andactively promote themselves and their work via social media; others pay little heed tothese forms of communication for professional purposes. Some universities are beginningto expand their social media focus from a limited view of these technologies ascommunications and marketing tools, to consider the value of scholars’ contributions inthe social media sphere.

“Altmetrics” is the term applied to measures of impact or influence beyond thetraditional. Rousseau and Ye (2013) note that “altmetrics…has not (yet) a precisedefinition, but refers to the use of social media, particularly Web 2.0 media, in assessingthe influence of researchers on all type of users.” However, they argue that “mentions” onthe internet amount to popularity measures…hence altmetrics data must be approachedwith caution, and in the context of multi-dimensional evaluation exercises…“likes” or“shares” lack authority and scientific credibility so that the use of altmetrics may still besomewhat premature.”

Diffusion of Innovations theory (Rogers, 2003) provides a lens to examine the spread ofnew ideas through cultures. Altmetrics is an innovative scholarly evaluation process thatdrives the research questions addressed in this study:

1. What key factors do heads of LIS academic units consider when making thedecision to adopt altmetrics for inclusion in promotion and tenure policy andpractice?

 2. How have Rogers’ 5 Factors (relative advantage, compatibility,complexity/simplicity, trialability, observability) influenced the diffusion processof altmetrics in LIS academic units’ scholarly productivity evaluation?

Through a survey of LIS program chairs, directors, and deans in the U.S. and Canada, theresearchers will seek to determine adopter categories for respondents, identify opinionleaders who are informing leaders’ decisions, and analyze key elements drivinginnovation-decisions for diffusion, including communication channels, time, and socialsystems.

The answers to these questions will expand and update an earlier interview study (Gruzdet al., 2011). The data will also inform decisions about adopting appropriate impactmetrics in our field. Priem and Hemminger (2010) suggest that analyzing impact via web presence could focus on “seven categories of Web 2.0 tools that might be productivelymined: bookmarking, reference managers, recommendation services, comments onarticles, microblogging, Wikipedia, and blogging.” Outcomes of this research will beanalyzed in light of Priem and Hemminger’s recommendations. Findings will determinethe rate of adoption by LIS program administrators to predict the probability of diffusion.Results will inform administrators who are contemplating the use of altmetrics as well astenure-track faculty and faculty slated for promotion to full professor status.

Gruzd, A., Staves, K., & Wilk, A. (2011). Tenure and promotion in the age of onlinesocial media. Proceedings of the annual conference of the American Association forInformation Science. New Orleans, October 9-13.
Priem, J., & Hemminger, B.M. (2010). Scientometrics 2.0: Toward new metrics ofscholarly impact on the social Web. First Monday, Volume 15, Number 7 - 5 July 2010.http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2874/2570
Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.
Rousseau, R. and Ye, F.Y. (2013). A multi-metric approach for research evaluations.Chinese Science Bulletin, 2013(http://users.telenet.be/ronald.rousseau/altmetrics___influmetrics.pdf).


Laurie Bonnici

Associate Professor, The University of Alabama
University of Alabama, United States
avatar for Heidi Julien

Heidi Julien

Chair and Professor, University at Buffalo
digital literacy, information behavior, higher education

Saturday September 14, 2013 4:46pm - 6:30pm EDT
Rowe Atrium

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