Myth vs. reality: Altmetrics and librarians

The 2015 Altmetrics Workshop
Amsterdam, 9 October 2015

Stacy Konkiel
Sarah Sutton
Michael Levine-Clark


Librarians have historically been early adopters of research metrics, which are commonly understood as being used in the context of their day-to-day jobs, particularly for collection management activities. While much has been written about librarians’ role in the formation and use of the journal impact factor and article and journal usage statistics, there have until now been no major studies of how librarians use altmetrics.

In this talk, the authors will share the results from a survey of librarians in the United States who work in research intensive institutions. Respondents self-report that they are increasingly passing over the journal impact factor in favor of using altmetrics, citation counts, and usage statistics for collection development decisions and other job-related duties (including information literacy instruction, reference services, and scholarly communication consulting). Librarians are also increasingly using altmetrics in their own capacities as researchers, to help determine how to best communicate their research impacts to others when going up for tenure and in other professional advancement contexts.

The authors expect that this survey will serve as a useful benchmark for the uptake of altmetrics and other research impact measures among librarians, the extent of which may change in the future. We will also discuss the possible implications of these responses on the services provided by altmetrics aggregators like Altmetric, who often count librarians among their subscribers.