Two Architects of Library Discovery Tools Launch an Altmetrics Venture — The Digital Shift
“Two prominent veterans of the library vendor world recently launched a startup company which aims to capitalize on the rapidly flowering field of altmetrics. Andrea Michalek and Mike Buschman had been the director of technology and director of product management, respectively, for ProQuest’s Summon discovery service since its inception. But the pair left the company in November 2011 and in January founded Plum Analytics, deciding that altmetrics presented enough promise to justify surrendering such prominent positions... After raising money from friends, family, and angel investors, the duo demoed the public alpha product on March 14 at the monthly Philly Tech Meetup (see video)... ‘Since that time, we have been talking to libraries interested in becoming beta customers to help build out the next level of the product, as well as take the opportunity to define the next generation of impact metrics,” Buschman said...’ Altmetrics (short for alternative metrics) provides a new way to measure the impact of scholarly communication. Rather than rely solely on the traditional and slow measure of citations in peer-reviewed articles (the impact factor), altmetrics provides a complementary, instant measurement window that includes all Web-based traces of research communication. It pulls together all the usage data about each individual output a researcher has produced... Plum Analytics and similar ventures in the field aggregate metrics, collected via open APIs, from sources as varied as Twitter to blogs to open access repositories that publish article-level metrics (such as PLoS) as well as from data repositories, scholarly social bookmarking sites (e.g., Mendeley or CiteULike), code source repositories (GitHub), presentation sharing sites (SlideShare), grant funding data, link shortener metrics, and more... Plum Analytics is wading into an incipient but very active field, such as this user group on Mendeley or the Twitter hashtag #altmetrics shows. In addition to the article-level metrics application that PLoS has been developing, services similar to Plum Analytics, such as CitedIn, ReaderMeter, and Science Card, have also emerged. One of the more prominent services is Total-Impact, which Jason Priem, a third-year doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science (SILS),and Heather Piwowar, a postdoctoral research associate at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, have developed. In April, they were awarded a $125,000 grant by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to further develop their application.
Priem, who wrote an altmetrics manifesto and recently co-authored a paper on altmetrics to be presented at the 17th International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators in Montreal in September, welcomed the emergence of Plum Analytics. ‘Looks to me like they’d be pretty direct competitors with Total-Impact and altmetric.com, albeit with some features they’ll hope to differentiate themselves with. I think that’s awesome,’ Priem said. ‘More players in this space is, in some ways, better for all of us…a rising altmetrics tide floats all boats...’ Wendy Pradt Lougee, the university librarian at the University of Minnesota, said the library there has a very close partnership with the university’s office of research in order to explore ways of revealing more data about researchers, including metrics beyond citations, and rolling out SciVal from Elsevier and the Harvard Profiles research networking software. But attitudes toward altmetrics can vary considerably depending on the disciplinary context. ‘Faculty are very discerning in how they are represented and the reputational value of different publication venues and metrics,’ Lougee said. ‘We have seen a growing interest in resea