Reflecting the priority subjects mentioned by the Member States at the call for interest of July 2016, this first MLE on Open Science will address the national policies and practices relating to the following two issues: (1) Altmetrics, understood as alternative (i.e. non-traditional) metrics that cover not just citation of articles but also various forms of social media shares, web-downloads or any other measure of the qualities and impact of research outcomes; and (2) Incentives and rewards for researchers to engage in Open Science activities.
Altmetrics data are mainly gathered from readily available online sources, making altmetrics highly relevant in the context of Open Science. This report gives participants in the MLE on Open Science an overview of the different types of altmetrics currently being used or investigated for the purpose of research assessment, and their benefits and challenges. Based on a review of the situation in the Member States, it is clear that altmetrics are not yet being used for research evaluation purposes. Altmetrics hold a lot of promise, but it is too early to use them for research evaluation where funding decisions or hiring or promotion processes are concerned. More research is needed.
Altmetrics has the opportunity to promote Open Science by broadening our understanding of impact, thus reflecting the need to update standards and motivateresearchers to focus on quality not quantity of research. This report starts by giving a brief overview of Open Science and the academic reward system in general, followed by a discussion about how altmetrics could contribute to the academic reward system, and how altmetrics could promote wider adoption of Open Science in the Member States. Altmetrics are, however, not ready to be used alone for research assessment. More information is needed about the meaning of altmetrics and limitations of data sources before practical and reliable applications of altmetrics can be developed.
The limitations of current mainstream research metrics — and the need to develop and promote alternatives, in order to better measure the impact of research, allocate funding and reward researchers — were discussed at the kick-off meeting for the MLE on Open Science. It was emphasised that metrics and incentives need to take into account impacts on society, not just the progress of science, and should encourage researchers to promote and use Open Science resources and approaches. The kick-off meeting also discussed the “Modus Operandi” of the project, which will lead to an agreement on the workplan, scope and expected outcomes.
What are the benefits and challenges of the different types of altmetrics used in the EU today? The meeting discussed these as well as existing practices, and instruments used, in the countries participating in the MLE on Open Science. In addition, discussions covered what types of impacts are important for different stakeholders in the participating countries and whether altmetrics could contribute to their measurement.
The participants discussed ‘how to engage with altmetrics in the context of Open Science’, followed by a brief presentation of the main findings of the report recently released by the EC's Expert Group on ‘next-generation metrics’. In addition, participating countries had the opportunity to learn from the experiences of Finnish actors in the field, including the Finnish Ministry of Education's commitment and approach to Open Science and some success stories linked to the Open Science initiative. Finally, Finnish universities shared their experience in using altmetrics.
This two-day learning exercise focused on the incentives and rewards that can persuade research and innovation (R&I) actors to engage with Open Science and embrace its benefits. The development and implementation of specific incentives and rewards for Open Science practices depends on the stakeholders involved as well as the field, community and location in question. Discussions focused on this diversity of approaches and contexts as well on the obstacles and practicalities in relation to such incentives. The experience of Croatian stakeholders was also discussed by representatives of R&I stakeholders such as the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education, the National Council for Science, Higher Education and Technology, the Croatian Science Foundation and representatives from Croatian universities and research institutes.