How do scholars measure their impact on the world?  At our JustPublics@365 Summit on “Reimagining Scholarly Communication in the Digital Era,” (March 2013) we convened a panel to discuss this important topic.

Panelists included: Robert Hilliker (Columbia University), David Harvey and Chris Caruso (Graduate Center), and moderating was Matthew K. Gold (Graduate Center).

To contextualize this conversation, it is important to understand that through most of the 20th century, it was through publishing in closed-access, for-profit journals, the ‘impact factors’ of those journals and tracking the number of citations of those publications in indices like the Social Sciences Citations Index.   Recently, these traditional measures have been the target of much critique for a variety of reasons including that they may not be a valid measure of journal quality and the way it is possible to game the system of impact factors.

Today, in the 21st century,  people are re-thinking those as the most useful ways to measure a scholar’s influence on the world.  In the era of the web, impact can also be measured in terms of links, downloads, views, usage, and re-mixes.  Some are calling these new ways of assessing scholarly impact “altmetrics” and you can read more here and here.   In the video, Robert Hilliker, Digital Repository Manager at Columbia University, speaks to these new ways of measuring impact.

Beyond the question of how academics measure their influence on other academics, JustPublics@365 is also concerned with the impact of scholarly work on issue of social injustice, what we call “social justice impressions.”

In the video, Chris Caruso talks about how his background as a social justice activist led him to graduate school and gave him the idea to put Professor David Harvey’s lectures online so that his comrades in social justice movements in Philadelphia could share in this knowledge.  Surprised to find himself an Internet celebrity, Professor David Harvey talks about the impact that sharing his lectures has had on a global audience.

In evaluating our first year of JustPublics@365, we’ve used a combination alternative measures, including qualitative ones, to assess the impact of the project. You can download our Evaluation Metrics Report here.