Here comes post 4 in the #futurescience20 brainstorming series. It’s about the future of the impact factor.
Today, impact of research is fundamentally measured by citation in prestigious journals. There are a number of problems about it: mainly that this implies strong delays (up to 5 years) , that “Citations are only a small fraction of how a paper is reused”, and that articles are only one of the kind of scientific outputs [Buschman, M., & Michalek, A. (2010). Are Alternative Metrics Still Alternative ?].
In 2030, impact factor will be multidimensional, granular and real time.
It will consider not just the article citation, but other measures such as actual downloads, views, book holding; number of likes, favourites, “read-later” buttons; mentions on social media and wikipedia. These measures are already starting to become available through services such as altmetric.com and http://www.plumanalytics.com/metrics.html . It will go even further. It will measures to what extent people are reading and highlighting sections of the articles through electronic readers – as already made visible by kindle.amazon.com.
This will enable everyone to map not only article metrics, but actual sub-sections of the article as well as of the dataset (granularity).
And all this will be made available in real time. Scientists will be informed in real time about discussion happening on the web about their work. They will be able to connect to other scientists that “think alike” and discover serendipitous connections. The impact factor metrics will become not only a management and reputation tool, but an actual service to scientists.