Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Max Leckert

Max Leckert

Reflexive Metrics: Altmetrics as Participants in Practices of Quantification and (E-) Valuation



Both the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) and, in a more general sense, the quantitative assessment of science based on citation indexing have been subject to repeated criticism. Recent statements of position include the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA, 2012) and – in reaction – the Leiden Manifesto (Hicks et al., 2015). Drawing heavily on Open Science stances, the Altmetrics Manifesto (Priem et al. 2010) famously positioned quantifications of science-related online activities as an alternative to citation counting, peer review and the JIF. Despite persisting confusion regarding the meaning and significance of Altmetrics, several Aggregators are dedicated to the provision of these numbers and almost all large academic publishers have established such new types of metrics as an increasingly visible complement to ones based on citations. Just as the JIF was originally intended to indicate the quality of journals but is now commonly used to assess individual and institutional research output and allocate funding accordingly, Altmetrics have the potential to influence the very objects they are thought to measure. Employing the methodological framework of situational analysis (Clarke, 2012) my dissertation project scrutinizes Altmetrics as participants in social practices (Reckwitz, 2003, 2008; Strübing, 2017) of quantification, valuation and evaluation (Espeland & Stevens, 2008; Lamont, 2012) in order to reconstruct the reflexive potentials of these new web-based metrics.