The LSE blog on social sciences has a very interesting article (slash advert) today about a new webapp, ImpactStory, designed to process the raw data about scholarship into meaningful measures of impact for researchers who are using less traditional media for their work. Earlier in the year, there was also an interesting piece calling for a more “full-flavoured palette” for identifying impact.
In my academic ‘career’ (such as it is/might be), I haven’t gotten to the stage of worrying about impact and citations, but as my work involves research projects and reports, I know some of the difficulties of identifying impact in such a way that might justify further work, or validate work that’s been done. It is easy enough to get a bundle of press-cuttings and information about mentions on TV/radio, for example, but that is really coverage, not necessarily ‘impact’. To measure a report’s impact on policy or opinion-formers is much more difficult, particularly outside the rigorous academic environment that demands good citation practice and therefore a traceable path of ‘influence’.
Still, I am tempted to put this new webapp to a slightly unintended use and see what information it pulls out!
EDIT: Looking at the page for creating an ImpactStory, I am a little put off now, as it is absolutely designed for academics with works published in the usual way. I’ll have to think a bit more creatively about trying to use ImpactStory for work, as it would all be reliant on the webpages box.