It is generally best practice for scholars to use more than one metric and to thoroughly research where their publications are indexed in order to get as complete a picture as possible of their work. However, it can be difficult for researchers to differentiate between metrics and to determine what metrics to use when evaluating one’s work.
Enter the Metrics Toolkit, a great new resource created by Robin Champieux (Oregon Health & Science University), Heather Coates (IUPUI), and Stacy Konkiel (Altmetric) which provides “evidence-based information about research metrics across disciplines, including how each metric is calculated, where you can find it, and how each should (and should not) be applied” (“About the Toolkit”).
There are currently two ways to use the Metrics Toolkit- Choose Metrics and Explore Metrics
1) Choose Metrics
Lets look at an example that illustrates how you might use the Choose Metrics feature. Say you are an early career tenure track faculty member in Biological Sciences. You have had a fairly prolific year and have had a few articles accepted for publication – including one that was recently published in a highly ranked journal in your field (!). You are currently struggling to compile your first tenure and promotion report and are not sure what metrics you can use to understand the impact of your work and to share it with others. In this scenario, the Choose Metrics tool can help you determine appropriate metrics for your upcoming report, as you can limit by discipline (Science/ Technology/ Engineering), research object (Journal Articles) and impact (Attention, Reach, Or Diffusion).
2) Explore Metrics
Explore Metrics allows users to browse and choose a metric that they want to learn more about.
So, say you are making progress with that tenure and promotion report. You’ve already tracked your research output by counting citations to your work. However, thanks to a former supervisor, you are aware that citation rankings can sometimes be a bit misleading (i.e. that citations are not always immediately available…that not all articles consulted during the course of research are cited, etc.) and that you should also use other alternative metrics in your tenure and promotion report. You decide that you would like to know if your prized article (the one that was recently published in that high impact journal) has been mentioned or discussed anywhere online, specifically on social media. You can learn more about these alternative ways to measure your research impact by clicking on Blog Mentions, Facebook, or Twitter.
The toolkit also includes case studies of how scholars have used these metrics in grant applications, CVs, and promotion dossiers. Currently, these examples are very much tailored towards the sciences. However, the Metrics ToolKit could be very useful to those in humanities and social sciences disciplines as well. For example, the monograph is still the gold standard for promotion and tenure committees in the humanities and social sciences and the Toolkit includes metrics on monograph holdings, sales, and rankings.
Also, while the option to filter by discipline is helpful, these distinctions are currently very broad. Users who wish to filter by discipline can choose one of three options: Arts & Humanities, Sciences/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics, and Social Sciences. Publication and citation standards can vary significantly across disciplines and even between sub-disciplines, so it would be nice to have further distinctions available. For example, what is considered a “high” h -index in engineering may be a much larger number than a high h-index in kinesiology.
The Metrics Toolkit is available under a CC-BY license, which means that it can be used on institutional and commercial sites without permission so long as you credit the authors – so feel free to share widely.
For more information, or to try out the Metrics Toolkit, click on the following link: http://www.metrics-toolkit.org