Science, discussed.

Why #AlternateScienceMetrics was a success

For those of you that were indeed under a rock: a few hours after Neil Hall‘s comment introducing ‘The Kardashian index: a measure of discrepant social media profile for scientistswas published on Genome Biology (30/07/2014), the #AlternateScienceMetrics hashtag was born.


In the following hours, an impressive number of tweets challenged the supremacy of the newly-born K-index. Real people, fictional characters and entire books/films became conceptual metaphors of scientific publishing, usually with comical outcomes. I am reading some of them some ~24 h later, and I believe there’s more to it than meets the eye.

They can be broadly categorised into 4 groups (below a few representative tweets, with apologies to all those I had to exclude):

1. Funny and not-really-science-related


2. Publishing is an awful experience

Jon shares with Alex Wild the ‘guilt’ of kicking off the #AlternateScienceMetrics hashtag


3. Reviewers/Editors/Journals are evil


4. Scientists could do better *


By scrolling the #AlternateScienceMetrics page and Graham Steel‘s excellent compendium on storify, it looks like Neil’s comment spawned a healthy and ironic self-criticism of the difficulties, upsets and unfairness of scientific publishing. The scientific community (its Twitter-friendly subset, to be accurate) refuted the ‘One Metric to Rule Them All’ approach with a social laughter , and might be now ready to sit down and rationally tackle the problem. If the same enthusiasm was used to collectively develop a plausible** alternative metric , #IF & co would be replaced much faster.

Comments welcome.


* disclaimer, the last one is mine
** i.e. intuitive and practical besides fair, so that it can be applied for grant and job applications.

About Pietro Gatti

Interested in discussing (good) Science Lover of coffee & good films. Ideas all & only my own.

2 comments on “Why #AlternateScienceMetrics was a success

  1. Iara VPS

    Thanks for the mention! We can only dream that thinking of and developing alternatives to IF should be so easy and fun as thinking up metrics jokes 🙂

    • @p_gl

      Thank you for your comment Lara.
      Of course it wouldn’t be as easy and fun! But many people spent time thinking about publication metrics, and what they actually measure. This is in itself an achievement. The next step will happen, eventually…

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This entry was posted on 01/08/2014 by in news, policy and tagged , , , , .


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