Thursday, 28 November 2013

Impact and Impact Story

At Tuesday’s ANDS/Intersect meeting one piece of software getting some traction was Impact Story.

So I thought I’d check it out and make myself an ImpactStory profile. After all the only way to find out about these things and their usability, or otherwise, is to experiment on oneself.

In very crude terms, ImpactStory is an attempt to build a Klout like application for academia. Like Klout it attempts to quantify that nebulous thing ‘influence’. Unlike Klout, it is an open source publicly funded initiative (by the NSF and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, no less) and transparent - the code and the algorithms used are up for scrutiny.

And of course it’s an important initiative. Scholarly communication has changed. Researchers blog and tweet about work in progress and this forms an important source of preliminary announcements, as well as the usual crosstalk about ideas and interpretations. Project websites have increasingly become a source of research information, etc etc.

So what about ImpactStory ?

I think it’s fair to say it’s a work in progress - it harvests data from twitter, orcid, wordpress, slideshare, vimeo and a few others. Crucially it doesn’t harvest material from blogger, or scribd, bot of which are often used to host preprints and grey literature, such as working papers and various reports, for example Rebecca Barley’s work on late Roman copper coins in South India.

In short it’s the first or second pass at a solution. It shows us what the future might be as regards the quantification of ‘impact’, basically la bruit around a researcher and their research work, but it is not the future.

In its current state it probably under reports a researcher’s activity, it can show that a researcher has some impact but it does not show a lack of impact, and we should consequently be wary of including its metrics in any report.

Written with StackEdit.

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