Applications of altmetrics allow for nuanced innovation in publishing

The digital transformation in publishing is bringing forth more than new reading platforms, gadgets and distribution options — it also brings a wealth of data publishers have never before had access to, data that can be applied to new marketing and production strategies, and used to help create more efficient business models.

As data becomes more and more central to publishing ecosystems, traditional methods of metric collection and analysis are proving insufficient. This need for new measurement techniques has given rise to a new metrics approach called “alternative metrics.” I reached out to Todd Carpenter, Executive Director of NISO, to find out what’s behind the changing data needs and more about how altmetric applications can benefit publishers. Carpenter will explore this topic further at TOC Frankfurt on October 9, 2012. Our interview follows.

What are alternative metrics?

Todd Carpenter: Alternative metrics — referred to as “altmetrics” — are a suite of assessment criteria and measures that are being developed, particularly in the scientific and academic communities, to assess the importance of a particular work of scholarly output in a new way.

Traditional metrics have been downloads, citations, or sales — generally based on publication-level data. For example, the Thomson Reuters Impact Factor, one of the most widely used metrics in scholarly publishing, measures quality at the journal level by measuring the number of citations to it in other journal articles. As academic publishing has expanded and diversified, these traditional metrics have been increasingly criticized for issues such as their granularity (i.e., measuring at the publication level, not the item level), or their bias toward citation, which is a common practice among researchers but doesn’t reflect more applied, practical, or public use.

The scope of measures that could be considered altmetrics is actually quite broad, ranging from analysis of usage data to social media references; Google Page Rank; deep statistical data analysis techniques, such as betweenness centrality; and other relatedness statistical measures. Also considered for inclusion in alternative metrics are measures of non-traditional types of content production, such as the release of scientific data sets, blog posting, or social media activity — none of which are addressed in traditional metrics.

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Publishing times, they are a-changin’

Panelists at the inaugural NYC Publishing Innovators Meetup discuss changing publishers' roles.

The NYC Publishing Innovators Meetup group held its inaugural roundtable in its quarterly speaker series in July. Panelists, led by Kat Meyer as moderator, included: Ned Lomigora, co-founder of Zeeen.com; Diane Gedymin, executive editor at Turner Publishing; Peter Balis, director of online sales, John Wiley & Sons; Linda Holliday, CEO of Semi-Linear; Jesse Potash, founder, PubSlush, and; Michelle Toth, founder, 617Books. The thesis was: “What role can publishers play in supporting a direct relationship between readers and authors?” The discussion was energetic, but everyone agreed on one thing: the times, they are a-changin’.

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Publishing's tech and edit worlds converge

Publishing's tech and edit worlds converge

The Books in Browsers conference is underway.

The Books in Browsers conference kicked off this morning. Keynotes, interviews and presentations are being livestreamed today and tomorrow.

Promoting free downloads to increase revenue

Promoting free downloads to increase revenue

Nelson Saba on how freemium is helping his Glo Bible app.

Publishers continue to struggle with the concept of a freemium business model. In this TOC podcast, Nelson Saba, CEO of Immersion Digital, talks about his Glo Bible app and how upgrade conversion rates are surprisingly good.

For booksellers, the future is brighter than it seems

Kassia Krozser says digital publishing won't kill bookstores if it's properly acknowledged.

Though stories abound about the impending doom booksellers face in the digital era, Kassia Krozser says brick-and-mortar retailers still have a future.

The future of publishing is writable

Trends of smaller, easier, and more personal content signal a shift away from read-only publishing.

Terry Jones envisons a future in which we step beyond the default of read-only publishing via traditional containers and APIs. Data itself will become social, and we'll be able to personalize arbitrarily.

Announcing TOC Bologna

Announcing TOC Bologna

O'Reilly teams up with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair for TOC Bologna in March of 2011

TOC Bologna, a one-day conference being held in conjunction with the Bologna Children's Book Fair, will focus on digital and mobile technology.

TOC 2011 preliminary program announced

TOC 2011 preliminary program announced

Featured speakers include Margaret Atwood, Ben Huh and Kevin Kelly.

We've just unveiled the initial list of workshops, sessions, speakers, and events happening at TOC 2011 in February. In addition to traditional book publishers discussing their experiences from the trenches of change, TOC also brings in ideas from the wider global ecosystem.

Mobile phones and smartphones are not the same thing

Comparing a basic mobile phone to a spiffy new smartphone is like comparing a circa-1993 desktop computer to a Macbook Pro. They're related in a basic sense, but the discrepancies are immense. Arthur Attwell, co-founder and CEO of Electric Book Works, expands on the divide between mobile phones and smartphones in an interview.

Emerging topics from TOC 2010

It's interesting to chart technical developments in the publishing industry against TOC's brief history. As Andrew Savikas notes in the following video, things like ebooks and mobile have evolved from small topics to dominant themes. If the pattern holds — and I don't know why it wouldn't — we'll see international markets and digital analytics claim more attention at…