Using altmetrics for assessing research impact in the humanities
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The prospects of altmetrics are especially encouraging for research fields in the humanities that currently are difficult to study using established bibliometric methods. Yet, little is known about the altmetric impact of research fields in the humanities. Consequently, this paper analyses the altmetric coverage and impact of humanities-oriented articles and books published by Swedish universities during 2012. Some of the most common altmetric sources are examined using a sample of 310 journal articles and 54 books. Mendeley has the highest coverage of journal articles (61 %) followed by Twitter (21 %) while very few of the publications are mentioned in blogs or on Facebook. Books, on the other hand, are quite often tweeted while both Mendeley’s and the novel data source Library Thing’s coverage is low. Many of the problems of applying bibliometrics to the humanities are also relevant for altmetric approaches; the importance of non-journal publications, the reliance on print as well the limited coverage of non-English language publications. However, the continuing development and diversification of methods suggests that altmetrics could evolve into a valuable tool for assessing research in the humanities.
KeywordsAltmetrics Bibliometrics Humanities Mendeley Twitter Library Thing
Parts of this paper build on a presentation at the 14th International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics, Vienna, 15–19 July 2013. The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for insightful comments that greatly improved the article.
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