Continuing my series on how scholarly communications must transform, I will argue here that scholarship is about to see "webometrics" or "cybermetrics" supplant traditional bibliometrics for gauging the impact of scholarship. But this is just the beginning. Cybermetrics applied to scholarship will revitalize traditional academic publishing and pave the way for new uses and genres of intellectual work. As scholars and their institutions begin to use cybermetrics they can enrich scholarly productivity and maximize the influence of their intellectual output.
The Impact Factor Factor
Impact is a big deal to scholars and their sponsors. Really big. The Impact Factor of the journal in which one publishes adds or subtracts value from one's publications. This algorithm is derived from a calculation based chiefly on the number of citations a publication generates. It has become a prominent determining factor in securing grants, academic posts, tenure, and advancement. And why not? Don't we want scholars to be making an impact? With today's info glut, isn't it even more important to preserve and promote systems that help us to know what information should be given more authority?
I will first look into the history of Impact Factor and will claim that this early effort to grapple with information overload has improperly become institutionalized and is neither trustworthy nor adequate for today's information culture. Then I will open the discussion of what can or should be measured through cybermetrics with online scholarly communication. Academia has some very good places to go with its treasure trove of existing and ongoing scholarship; it can't get there by clinging to authority systems based on pre-Internet bibliometrics.