NISO, IU receive Mellon grant to advance tools for quantifying scholarly impact from large-scale usage data

A $349,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Indiana University Bloomington will fund research to develop a sustainable initiative to create metrics for assessing scholarly impact from large-scale usage data.

IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing associate professor Johan Bollen and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) will share the Mellon Foundation grant designed to build upon the MEtrics from Scholarly Usage of Resources (MESUR) project that Bollen began in 2006 with earlier support from the foundation. Bollen is also a member of the IU School of Informatics and Computing’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS) and the IU Cognitive Science Program faculty.

The new funding for “Developing a Generalized and Sustainable Framework for a Public, Open, Scholarly Assessment Service Based on Aggregated Large-scale Usage Data,” will support the evolution of the MESUR project to a community-supported, sustainable scholarly assessment framework. MESUR has already created a database of more than 1 billion usage events with related bibliographic, citation and usage data for scholarly content.

The project will focus on four areas in developing the sustainability model — financial sustainability, legal frameworks for protecting data privacy, technical infrastructure and data exchange, and scholarly impact — and then integrate the four areas to provide the MESUR project with a framework upon which to build a sustainable structure for deriving valid metrics for assessing scholarly impact based on usage data. Simultaneously, MESUR’s ongoing operations will be continued with the grant funding and expanded to ingest additional data and update its present set of scholarly impact indicators.

Data from more than 110,000 journals, newspapers and magazines, along with publisher-provided usage reports covering more than 2,000 institutions, is being ingested and normalized in MESUR’s databases, resulting in large-scale, longitudinal maps of the scholarly community and a survey of more than 40 different metrics of scholarly impact.