For too long, a large and growing battery of metrics are being applied in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) that are based on the practices of more scientifically oriented scholarship or on simply what is possible for our technologies to measure.
The collective challenge and responsibility of evaluators, especially within an HSS context, is to articulate, incentivise and reward practices that enrich scholarly lives and expand the understanding of scholarship itself. Evaluators need the means to be able to reflect on a broader understanding of scholarly activity, including indicators for diversification of knowledge, knowledge transfer, and underrewarded/underrepresented work in the academy, such as microtransactional scholarly activities. By this we mean smaller, time- and space-delimited contributions. These could be annotations to larger projects — commonly found in collaborative environments.
LIBER has partnered with a group of organizations from the UK and USA in the Humane Metrics for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HuMetricsHSS) initiative. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the collaborative HuMetricsHSS pilot is looking to reverse-engineer the process of using evaluation metrics. We initiate the process by identifying with what matters — goals, objectives, and values for individuals and academic institutions— and work backwards from there to develop indicators that can help academics understand if they’re achieving their aims.
Through a series of workshops, we will begin by engaging with a broad range of stakeholders from the academic community: including senior and junior scholars, research administrators, metrics and scholarly communication experts. The goal is to refine and validate a value-based metrics framework. Next, we will work on a prototype app to test the framework against examples of underrewarded/underrepresented scholarly outputs (eg. syllabi and scholarly annotations) to understand where and how values are embedded into the practice of generating those outputs. The final goal is to create a values-based framework that will enable humanities and social science scholars to tell more textured stories about the impact of their research and teaching.
The HuMetricsHSS initiative is led by an international group of co-PIs including Christopher Long, Michigan State University, Dean of College of Arts & Letters and Professor of Philosophy; Nicky Agate, Modern Language Association, Head of Digital Initiatives; Rebecca Kennison, K|N Consultants, Executive Director and Principal; Stacy Konkiel, Altmetric, Director of Research & Education; Jason Rhody, Social Science Research Council, Program Director; and Simone Sacchi, LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries), Interim EU Projects Manager.
The research library community has been long invested in the use of bibliometrics and altmetrics in scholarly communication. The participation of LIBER in this new initiative will not only benefit HuMetricsHSS with the rich perspective and expertise of the European Research Library community, it will also promote and foster international collaborations across the Atlantic in a sensible area, research evaluation, that would benefit immensely from a dialogue informed by a broad and diverse range of perspectives. Through Simone Sacchi in the role of co-PI, LIBER will contribute expertise in the area of scholarly communication and metrics, and participate in each stage of the project that requires expertise in mapping scholarly communication outputs to practices and values and will contribute to the development of indicators in that space, including the development of a data model for the extraction of indicators from syllabi.