An Assessment of Impact Metrics’ Potential as Research Indicators Based on Their Perception, Usage, and Dependencies from External Science Communication

The demand for practicable methods for quantitative assessments of scientific products’ relevance has risen considerably over the past decades. As a consequence, research and commercial providers of scholarly data developed a wide variety of impact indicators, ranging from citation-based to so-called altmetrics. This highly heterogeneous family of indicators is based on the principle of measuring interactions with scientific publications that are observable online, and covers for instance mentions of publications in social and journalistic media, in literature management software, or in policy documents. The various metrics' theoretical validity as impact indicators is debated constantly, as questions regarding what it is that different metrics measure or express in many facets remain unanswered.

This thesis makes two central contributions towards answering these questions. Its first part systematically assesses the status quo of various metrics’ perception and usage by researchers. This assessment serves to determine the significance of metrics in academic daily routines, as well as to identify relevant perceived problems concerning their usage. The challenges identified this way are in later sections of the thesis opposed with concrete measures to be taken during the development of future research metrics and their infrastructure to effectively solve common criticisms regarding current metrics and their use.

Proceeding from the first part’s user studies, this thesis’ second part examines the relationship between research metrics and external science communication. It this way addresses a wide research gap with considerable potential implications for metrics’ validity as indicators for quality - the question to which degree these metrics are merely the result of promotion, which respective research publications receive.


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