Just finished listening to this webinar, in which CSID’s own Kelli Barr participated as a presenter.
One of the most interesting aspects of the webinar was the discussion of the use of new ways for the individual researcher to extend her scholarly networks (for instance, using ORCiD or altmetrics, such as Impact Story). With an ORCiD, a researcher can disambiguate herself from others with the same name (here’s mine). This would help in creating one’s online scholarly identity. With tools such as Impact Story, it is possible to see and to show who is paying attention in various ways to one’s scholarly products. These tools can be used together, as well — one can import one’s ORCiD to Impact Story and get, well, at least a partial story of one’s impact (here’s mine, which took all of 10 seconds to generate). Impact Story can also use URLs for scholarly products that don’t have a DOI. This would take a bit more time, but it would give a better account of one’s network.
By using such tools, an individual researcher can ‘self’ herself. The notion of ‘selfing’ the individual researcher stems from Nietzsche’s coinage of the term ‘unselfing‘, itself related to Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth’s call ‘unsex me now’. ‘Selfing’ would be the opposite of ‘unselfing’ –where unselfing involves creating a false image, selfing would be an attempt to create a better image of oneself.
Selfing oneself as a researcher, then, would involve trying to create a better, more complete, better picture of oneself and one’s impact as a researcher than typical research evaluation metrics (such as traditional bibliometrics) can provide.
Of course, this involves presenting oneself in a certain light. This sort of self-presentation can balance the general trend of research evaluation toward ‘objective’ assessment. Put differently, selfing ourselves as researchers would allow us to own accountability, thus restoring balance to the values of autonomy and accountability in an arena where these values are so often seen to conflict.
Selfing one’s scholarly networks by using such tools allows one to get a better, more complete view of one’s impacts than mere citations. Of course, it also raises two extremely important questions: 1) who should count as a peer; and how should we describe the relation between ‘scholarly impact’ and ‘broader societal impact’?
These questions remain to be answered. In the meantime, I think the use of altmetrics is very promising both in terms of allowing researchers to self themselves in the sense discussed above and in terms of research evaluation in general.