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Sunday, September 28 • 11:01 - 11:20
"Altmetrics in Library and Information Science: Trickle or Tsunami?"

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Background: Atlmetrics appear to be gaining some ground for discerning impact in the field of Library and Information Science (LIS), but official tenure and promotion policies and practices remain relatively traditional. Conservative academic culture may provide one explanation for delaying what appears to be the inevitable incorporation of some altmetrics into tenure and promotion decisions.

Objective: This paper reports on an ongoing study of altmetrics in LIS, which started with a survey of Deans, Directors, and Chairs of LIS programs (Julien & Bonnici, 2013), and moved to an analysis of the social media profiles of representative faculty members in the field (Bonnici & Julien, 2014). The current phase reported here explores official documentation regarding tenure and promotion policies at institutions hosting LIS programs, as well as practices used to analyze impact for tenure and promotion purposes. This triangulation of approaches to considering the use of altmetrics in LIS tenure and promotion practices provides a well-rounded picture for this field.

Methods: Official tenure and promotion documents at universities hosting LIS programs in the U.S. were analyzed for decision-making criteria. Analyses sought to determine the degree to which research impact is being measured and considered by traditional measures, such as citations in peer-reviewed journals, and/or by altmetrics, such as views, downloads, mentions, likes, and shares. In addition, interviews with a purposive sample of LIS Deans, Directors and Chairs, selected for diversity of type of program (iSchool or traditional), program size, and geography, provided evidence for on-the-ground practices regarding measurement of scholarly impact.

Results: Initial results suggest that official tenure and promotion documents do not typically specify impact measures, indicating that there may be flexibility in the metrics considered. Interviews with Deans, Directors, and Chairs about actual practices may provide further detail, however, about actual practices. Those interviews are ongoing, and complete data from both the document analyses and interviews will be presented at the conference.

Conclusions: Despite increasing interest and significant commitment to social media and altmetrics by some LIS scholars, tenure and promotion policies and practices appear to be slow to accommodate these newer impact measures. The authors posit that relatively conservative academic culture provides important context for understanding dissemination of these innovations.

Julien, H., & Bonnici, L. (2013). Sooner or later? The diffusion and adoption of social media metrics to measure scholarly productivity in LIS faculty. Presented at the 2013 International Conference on Social Media and Society, Halifax, NS, Canada, September 14-15.

Bonnici, L., & Julien, H. (2014). Altmetrics: An entrepreneurial approach to assessing impact on scholarship and professional practice. Presented at the annual conference of the Association for Library and Information Science Education, Philadelphia, January 21-24. 


Laurie Bonnici

Associate Professor, The University of Alabama
University of Alabama, United States
avatar for Heidi Julien

Heidi Julien

Chair and Professor, University at Buffalo
digital literacy, information behavior, higher education

Sunday September 28, 2014 11:01 - 11:20
TRS 1-129 Ted Rogers School of Management

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