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    How long does a scientific paper need to be? Length limits can have a detrimental effect on scientific reporting.

How long does a scientific paper need to be? Length limits can have a detrimental effect on scientific reporting.

In principle, length limits should help with the accessibility and readability of a scientific paper. But in practice these limits often achieve the opposite effect. Now that journals are becoming online-only, Dorothy Bishop argues, lengths limits are far less relevant. Yes, we should encourage authors to be succinct, but not so succinct that scientific communication is compromised.

There was an interesting exchange a […]

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Systems of measurement have a productive power in our lives

Metrics already perform a powerful productive role in the social world; they vindicate and limit, they cajole and incentivise, they legitimate and justify. When we reflect on how metrics are frequently used to manage performance, to facilitate competition, to judge us or to compare what we do with others, it is crucial that we see metrics as being central to […]

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    Fast and made to last: Academic blogs look to ensure long-term accessibility and stability of content.

Fast and made to last: Academic blogs look to ensure long-term accessibility and stability of content.

Academic blogging has distinct advantages over traditional forms of scholarly communication but questions on their lasting preservation still remain to be seen. Who makes sure academic blog content stays online in the long term? Who guarantees that links to the post remains the same? Who ensures that the text will not be modified later on? Christof Schöch argues these are issues that […]

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    Digital Object Identifiers: Stability for citations and referencing, but not proxies for quality

Digital Object Identifiers: Stability for citations and referencing, but not proxies for quality

What exactly is a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and how does it help in the management and long-term preservation of research? Laurence Horton explains the basic structure and purpose of a DOI and also points to some limitations. DOIs are not the only way of providing fixed, persisting references to objects, but they have emerged as the leading system.

A DOI is a Digital […]

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    Scholarly behaviour and evaluation criteria: Uncovering the superficial characteristics that lead to higher citations

Scholarly behaviour and evaluation criteria: Uncovering the superficial characteristics that lead to higher citations

Do scholars adjust their publication behaviour depending on the criteria used in their evaluation? Maarten van Wesel presents findings showing how the publishing behaviour of scholars changed when evaluation switched from emphasising ‘publish-or-perish’ to impact factors. Whilst this may suggest a shift from quantity to quality, the number of citations a paper receives not only depends on its scholarly value, […]

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    Collaborate or die? Interdisciplinary work holds great promise but goal-oriented assumptions must be challenged.

Collaborate or die? Interdisciplinary work holds great promise but goal-oriented assumptions must be challenged.

Collaboration holds great promise for social science disciplines, but simply replicating practices from STEM disciplines will not necessarily lead to greater quality research. Each discipline has its own language and set of assumptions, argues Jenny Lewis and ground work must be done to set the stage for a successful exchange of ideas. Disciplines that rest on strongly contested knowledge bases […]

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    Unbundling is Over-rated: On the value of contributing to an edited book

Unbundling is Over-rated: On the value of contributing to an edited book

Terry Clague sheds reasonable doubt on the assertion that contributing to edited book chapters is a waste of time. The sole aim of publication isn’t necessarily to maximise citations. If citations are the only measure of academic value then there’s a danger that academic research becomes the X-Factor. Furthermore, edited collections can also aid discovery of new material where […]

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    Reference rot in web-based scholarly communication and link decoration as a path to mitigation

Reference rot in web-based scholarly communication and link decoration as a path to mitigation

The failure of a web address to link to the appropriate online source is a significant problem facing scholarly material. Martin Klein and Herbert Van de Sompel together with their collaborators have investigated the extent of reference rot on scholarly domains and their results show an alarming link rot ratio. The authors also explore ways to mitigate it through more systematic […]

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    Self-archived articles receive higher citation counts than non-OA articles from same political science journals.

Self-archived articles receive higher citation counts than non-OA articles from same political science journals.

The low level of research funding for the social sciences in the US is likely to have a direct and negative effect on researchers’ ability to pay the article processing charges associated with the most common Gold OA business model. But there are other options. Amy Atchison and Jonathan Bull look at the benefits of Green Open Access. Their research indicates self-archived/ Green […]

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    Predicting the results of the REF using departmental h-index: A look at biology, chemistry, physics, and sociology.

Predicting the results of the REF using departmental h-index: A look at biology, chemistry, physics, and sociology.

Can metrics be used instead of peer review for REF-type assessments? With the stakes so high, any replacement would have to be extremely accurate. Olesya Mryglod, Ralph Kenna, Yurij Holovatch and Bertrand Berche looked at two metric candidates, including the departmental h-index, and four subject areas: biology, chemistry, physics and sociology. The correlations are significant, but comparisons with RAE indicate that […]

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    Poor citation practices are continuing to harm the humanities and social sciences.

Poor citation practices are continuing to harm the humanities and social sciences.

Citation and referencing patterns are not trivial things but solid and important indications of the presence of primary academic virtues. Patrick Dunleavy looks at disciplinary differences and argues the poor citation practices in the humanities and social sciences are therefore not just harmful to academics, but to all who read their works or follow after them. To break past such attitudes requires a […]

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    Evaluation systems need not be perfect: University research assessment and the ongoing quest for simplicity.

Evaluation systems need not be perfect: University research assessment and the ongoing quest for simplicity.

In order to get a perfect assessment method, are we at risk of developing systems that are ever more complex and time-consuming? Dorothy Bishop looks at the differences between readily available measures to award research funding and the highly complicated RAE formula. An evaluation system need not be perfect – it just needs to be ‘good enough’ to provide a […]

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    From Attention to Citation: What are altmetrics and how do they work?

From Attention to Citation: What are altmetrics and how do they work?

Scholarly and social impacts of scientific publications could be measured by various metrics, including article usage, Mendeley readership and Altmetric scores, etc. But what is the relationship amongst the different metrics? Previous studies show there is low correlation between altmetrics and citation, but how do altmetrics compare to other metrics? Xianwen Wang and his colleagues recently conducted a study to answer […]

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    Five recommendations for using alternative metrics in the future UK Research Excellence Framework

Five recommendations for using alternative metrics in the future UK Research Excellence Framework

Although many are excited by the possibilities for using alternative metrics to supplement research assessment, others are concerned about the ease with which the figures can be gamed. It is clear that there is already gaming within traditional citation impact metrics in peer reviewed journals and without quality control mechanisms, social media metrics would be susceptible to the same. Mike […]

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    Data Descriptors: Providing the necessary information to make data open, discoverable and reusable.

Data Descriptors: Providing the necessary information to make data open, discoverable and reusable.

Data need to be more than just available, they need to be discoverable and understandable. Iain Hrynaszkiewicz introduces Nature’s new published data paper format, a Data Descriptor. Peer-review and curation of these data papers will facilitate open access to knowledge and interdisciplinary research, pushing the boundaries of discovery. Some of the most tangible benefits of open data stem from social and […]

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    Altmetrics can signal flows of information for paths in scholarly communication not yet mapped.

Altmetrics can signal flows of information for paths in scholarly communication not yet mapped.

Research metrics are currently being debated across the UK. With last week’s 1AM conference discussing alternative metrics and this week’s In metrics we trust? event as part of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment, the uses and misuses of metrics are under close scrutiny. Cameron Neylon reports back from last week’s altmetrics conference and looks at the primary motivations […]

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    Whose ideas are they anyway? Academic work as a form of public action, rather than possession.

Whose ideas are they anyway? Academic work as a form of public action, rather than possession.

Do our academic creations belong to us? Should we think of them as property? Amidst debates about how to cite properly and circulating fears of ideas being stolen, do we risk losing touch with wider questions about how ideas emerge and develop, and the limits of provenance? Davina Cooper argues public action may provide a better way of thinking […]

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    Proof over promise: Moving citation metric systems beyond journal impact towards a career impact approach.

Proof over promise: Moving citation metric systems beyond journal impact towards a career impact approach.

Publishing in a high-impact journal carries the implicit promise that the article will also be highly cited. But the proof of this logic remains unsubstantiated. By combining more accurate citation metrics, like the hIa-index and the citation-per-author-per-year metric, Anne-Wil Harzing and Wilfred Mijnhardt provide a more substantial alternative to the narrow journal-based metric. This combined metric provides a more reliable comparison between […]

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    The citation revolution will not be televised: the end of papers and the rise of data.

The citation revolution will not be televised: the end of papers and the rise of data.

Providing access across subjects and regions, the Data Citation Index is linking up with repositories to provide a single-point recognition mechanism for quality research data. Christopher Lortie welcomes this development as it will profoundly reshape the publication pipeline and further fuel the open science movement. Data can now be recognised and cited as independent products, with or without them being linked to […]

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This work by LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.