3:AM 2016 – Opening and keynote

This is a guest post contributed by Rachel Middlemass from LSE. (Thanks very much, Rachel!) 

Opening Address

Prof Dragos Vinereanu, Vice-rector of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila, opened the conference with a warm welcome to “Dracula country”. Anyone worried about the “Fun Romanian Facts” round of their next pub quiz was in luck. Prof Vinereanu had it covered. Cheat sheet below:

slack-for-ios-upload-1Quizmaster: Romania is home to the largest building in the world: true or false?
3AM: False! (And for bonus points) it was pipped to that particular post by the USA and Korea, but is home to the world’s third biggest building.

Quizmaster: How many Nobel Laureates has Romania produced?3AM: Five

Quizmaster: Can you name a famous Romanian gymnast?
3AM: Easy. Nadia Comaneci

Quizmaster: OK. How about a famous Romanian sculptor?
3AM: Sure, Constantin Brancusci

Quizmaster: Hmm, how about a famous Romanian poet?
3AM: Mihai Eminescu

Quizmaster: A composer?
3AM: George Enescu

Quizmaster: A painter?
3AM: Stefan Luchian

Quizmaster: Fine. You know about Romanian arts and culture. But how about the sciences: for what is Romanian researcher Nicholae Paulescu particularly known?
3AM: Why, for discovering insulin, of course

Quizmaster: Very good. But what about George Emil Palade?
3AM: Glad you asked: he’s the founder of cellular biology and winner of one of those five Romanian Nobel Prizes.

Quizmaster: Fine. You win. 


Keynote: What matters where? Cultural and geographical factors in science

Dan Penny, Springer Nature (Strategic and Market Intelligence Team)

Dan began by describing what he sees as a general feeling among researchers that they need to understand metrics…often corresponding with a guilty suspicion that they don’t. Why is this? Do researchers care everywhere and equally? And should they?

The changing metrics landscape
The metrics ‘landscape’ has changed significantly in recent years, including in a shift away from an emphasis on Journal Impact Factors alone to a broader interest in what multiple metrics – and altmetrics – can tell us about research. Nature recently scrapped its exclusive reliance on JIF to present multiple metrics for all journals on its home page, and this growing interest in a broader range of indicators of research impact is now in widespread evidence across the sector.

slack-for-ios-upload-5At the same time plethora of new metrics are coming to the fore, including Research Gate’s RG score, the Relative Citation Rate and Elsevier’s CiteScore (currently under development). New resources such as Elsevier’s Library Connect encourage people to think about these metrics in considering the potential impacts of research – though they also caution them to think first about the question they’re asking (what are you [trying] to achieve?) and then the metric(s) used to measure and report on that.

Along with this growing interest in using more – and more varied – metrics, is a concurrent concern with using metrics ‘responsibly’, a subject discussed in detail in the The Metric Tide and soon to be the focus of an ARMA training course.

Researchers’ awareness of and reactions to metrics
All of these development are driving increased researcher interest in metrics, but there are some important disciplinary and geographical differences in awareness and use of different metrics tools or sites. Interestingly – though perhaps not surprisingly – librarians consistently demonstrate a higher awareness than researchers of all tools.

A recent Springer Nature survey of its global audiences showed very different awareness of and attitudes to the use of metrics as indicators of research quality. Some researchers expressed confusion about metrics or guilt for not understanding them; some said they simply ignored them or felt it wasn’t their responsibility to know about them; and others declared metrics irrelevant because they already knew their research was of high quality.

slack-for-ios-upload-4Among all researchers, though, impact factor is still by far the most familiar metric, being used by 95% of those surveyed. The h-index wasn’t far behind (used by 67%), but between 48% and 63% of respondents said they didn’t know what most other types of metrics were. There are geographical differences in the rates at which researchers reported ignorance of these, though: researchers in India, for example, are more likely report familiarity with a broader range of metrics than are researchers in the USA.

Both cultural factors and, perhaps, individual personality differences, inform difference in the drivers for and awareness of metrics around the world. In particular, a ‘culture of measurement’ seems to be related to preference for open access publication, with tools used to measure impact having greater uptake among authors who also frequently publish using an Open Access model. In other words, those who are keen to ensure that their work reaches the widest possible audience are also keen to know what that audience does with it.

What do researchers want?
Everywhere, though, there is high demand for more information about a broader range of metrics. Interestingly, this seems to include a desire (especially in the USA) to know more who reads different journals. Whilst the size of readership within a specific discipline is still seen universally as the most important aspect of this, researchers also report interest in knowing more about a journal’s readership among, for example, industry or governmental decision makers.

This represents an important shift in focus among book and journal authors, whose previous lack of interest (or at least lack of expressed interest) in readership perhaps derives from the paucity of information available to them on that topic. Their growing interest in this (and other) information about who reads their research is encouraging: it will help researchers everywhere think more – and more strategically – not just about the ways in which their research is evaluated, but about who they want to engage with it, how and – crucially – to what ends.

Presenter’s slides will be available online shortly.