The ACRLog is a good source of insights and ideas from a wide swath of academic librarians. Particularly interesting to me, a long-term academic librarian in the last quarter of my career, are the posts from those who are just entering the field. Benjamin Dueck’s post on his concerns regarding the limited value of quantitative metrics for measuring the impact of scholarly contributions, particularly for the humanities as he serves, was just such a post. His experience being betwixt two generations (‘millenial’ and ‘zoomer’) spoke to me, as I’m officially in the last days of the Baby Boomers, crossing into ‘Generation X’. And I felt for his perception of growing up with constant ‘global crises’, although, truth be told, Mr. Dueck, there are probably few in this world who have not thought that.
As a Collection Assessment Librarian, however, I was more interested in his concept of ‘informational holism’ and his concerns regarding scholarly metrics. The two-dimensional figure does not do his concept justice – I think a 3D rendition could be more impactful. It is concerning how bibliometric measures are being pushed in many institutions and, indeed some nations, as proxies for impact, especially by those advocating neoliberalism of our academic institutions. Clarivate has recently integrated the journals indexed in their Arts & Humanities Citation Index into the Journals Citation Report (JCR). For our collection assessments, we routinely examine the number of the top cited journals from the JCR, but only for the pure sciences and the social sciences. Engineering disciplines tend to use conferences for sharing their research, and arts & humanities have only just recently been extending their communications more heavily into journals, but using very different publication patterns. So, the use of these metrics from JCR will be of limited value for evaluating top journals.
I do believe there is some validity in using citation metrics as one of many methods of assessing the value of research or a collection. But Mr. Dueck has made some thoughtful and interesting points regarding the limitations of strictly quantitative metrics of liberal arts scholarship (which is inherently interdisciplinary).