A case for Altmetrics:can measures of social media activity be used to support the academic research process?

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Type

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economics and Social Studies

Original languageEnglish
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date2014
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Abstract

Purpose
To assess whether measures of social media activity can be used to support the academic research process.

Aims
- To measure researchers’ behaviours – ie: to what extent researchers use social media for activities relating to impact
- To measure researchers’ attitudes towards altmetrics – ie: whether researchers consider altmetrics data to be useful tool for supporting the research process

Objectives
- To identify whether and to what extent social media is used by researchers in activities relating to research impact
- To gain an understanding of whether the social media data used as the basis of altmetrics can be used as a measure of research impact
- To identify any potential need for training in altmetrics
- To identify a possible role for altmetrics in supporting researchers at the University

Methods
The study uses an online questionnaire to collect quantitative data from science researchers at the University of Sheffield. Data was analysed using SPSS.

Results
The study found that the majority of respondents (85%) made some use of social media for the discovery, dissemination and promotion of research. Social networks were found to be the most popular tools for these activities, followed by reference managers and Twitter. Respondents made most use of social media for research discovery. Attitudes towards social media were generally positive, although negative attitudes were recorded regarding the quality of research found via social media. Attitudes towards altmetrics as a tool for research discovery and promotion were generally positive, but negative attitudes were found concerning altmetrics as a measure of research quality. Awareness of altmetrics was found to be widespread, but levels of knowledge and use were low.

Conclusions
The findings suggest that researchers are using social media for activities relating to impact, and that there is a role for altmetrics as a tool to support the discovery, dissemination and promotion of research, as a supplement rather than a replacement for traditional citation metrics.