Altmetrics—The Agora of Scientific Discussion on The Web

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Example of article-level metrics on The Winnower, including Altmetrics

In an effort to further open scientific communication we are happy to announce today that all articles on The Winnower will feature Altmetrics.  Altmetrics, short for alternative metrics, are metrics that track mentions and discussions occurring around an individual article.  While we at The Winnower are quite proud of the review system we have implemented (not so proud that we won’t continue to improve upon it) we realize that not all discussions around publications on The Winnower will occur at The Winnower.  It is primarily for this reason that we now include Altmetrics for every article published on The Winnower.  Altmetrics assembles discussions happening in various different forums on the Internet Twitter to Reddit to major news outlets like The New York Times, and now even policy documents.  There has been some debate over the use and validity of Altmetrics but we think tracking article-level attention from various sources provides a few key benefits. We outline them below.

Discussions occur scattered throughout the Internet. Altmetrics collects them.

Articles published on The Winnower are published (hopefully) with the goal of starting a discussion.  Sadly, however we cannot guarantee that such discussions will occur on The Winnower alongside the article.  Because the discussions may still be quite worthwhile to the author and to readers it is useful to identify and track them. Altmetrics does this efficiently and beautifully (we’re looking at you President Icinghower!). 

Altmetrics emphasizes individual articles and not where they are published.

As a publisher we pride ourselves on being a platform, not a gatekeeper. As such we want to empower your publications and you as an author.  To do this we think your article should be the focus of attention, not our “journal”.  Indeed, we don’t have an impact factor and we don’t ever want one, even if it would help with business.  It is a silly thing for scientists to measure the importance of their work by pointing to other works featured in the same venue.  Accordingly, we want to measure your individual articles strengths and weaknesses.  It doesn’t matter what Bob or Jane publish in The Winnower, what matters is what you publish and how better to measure that then article-level metrics.

With that said, we encourage you to start your own conversation by publishing your work and ideas on The Winnower and sharing it in different social media venues.  Altmetrics will collect the discussion.  Remember we are publishing to goad new ideas and dialogue not to put the PDF on our mantle to collect dust. Happy Winnowing!