Valuation of altmetrics in research funding
Fraumann, Grischa (2017)
MDP in Research and Innovation in Higher Education
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This master s thesis is about the potential valuation of altmetrics or alternative metrics in research funding, which is apparent in current high-level policy debates in higher education. Altmetrics measure the outputs of scholarly research online. Valuation is defined not in the monetary sense of the word, but as giving worth to something as a social construct. Based on the Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation, the author intends to map the potential usage and valuation of altmetrics in research funding. A mixed method research design was chosen for this study. Firstly, a review of policy papers from supranational organisations, national governments, and organisations in higher education was carried out. Secondly, qualitative interviews (n=6) with research policy makers and members of a research funding organisation in Finland were conducted. Thirdly, the quantitative phase consisted of four online surveys (n=290) with researchers at a university and reviewers in Finland and on an international level. Finally, these data sets were analysed together (N=296). The findings suggest that altmetrics is mostly unknown and of low importance among the study participants, and only a small amount of altmetrics users could be identified. It is a prominent research policy topic these days, and considered as on the rise in debates on higher education. And, despite the unawareness and little valuation of altmetrics, some respondents use altmetrics in some way or the other, and are highly-aware of the concept of altmetrics. Altmetrics might be more important in future in the reporting phase compared to the research funding application phase. Considering the current high-level policy debates, it is recommended to stakeholders in the higher education system to become familiar with altmetrics, as they might play a larger role in future. Policy makers need to communicate more clearly on the challenges of research impact assessments, and altmetrics.