The Evolution of Current Research Impact Metrics: From Bibliometrics to Altmetrics?

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The prestige of publication has been based on traditional citation metrics, most commonly journal impact factor. However, the Internet has radically changed the speed, flow, and sharing of medical information. Furthermore, the explosion of social media, along with development of popular professional and scientific websites and blogs, has led to the need for alternative metrics, known as altmetrics, to quantify the wider impact of research. We explore the evolution of current research impact metrics and examine the evolving role of altmetrics in measuring the wider impact of research. We suggest that altmetrics used in research evaluation should be part of an informed peer-review process such as traditional metrics. Moreover, results based on altmetrics must not lead to direct decision making about research, but instead, should be used to assist experts in making decisions. Finally, traditional and alternative metrics should complement, not replace, each other in the peer-review process.

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