The creation of quantifiable measures of the impact and relative importance of a publication, a journal, an individual researcher’s output, or a university is close kin to ranking algorithms in information retrieval. Eugene Garfield developed the journal impact factor (IF) a half-century ago based on a two-year window of citations. And more recently, Jorge Hirsch invented the h-index to quantify an individual’s productivity based on the distribution of citations over one’s publications. There are also several competing “world university ranking” systems in wide circulation. Most traditional bibliometrics seek to build upon the citation structure of scholarship in the same manner that PageRank uses the link structure of the web as a signal of importance, but new approaches (or Alt Metrics) are now seeking to harness usage patterns and social media to assess impact.
This talk was presented during the 2013 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit.