Publishing and Perishing in the Twenty-First Century


July 15, 2013


Enrico Motta, Filippo Menczer, Jennifer Lin, and Jevin West


University of Washington, Indiana University, Public Library of Science, Open University


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.


Enrico Motta, Filippo Menczer, Jennifer Lin, and Jevin West

Jevin West is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Washington. He builds models, algorithms, and interactive visualizations for improving scholarly communication and for understanding the flow of information in large knowledge networks. His roots in biology, where he studied information from an evolutionary lens, sparked his interest in networks and led to his work on citation networks. West co-founded—a free website and research platform that librarians, administrators, publishers, and researchers use to map science and identify influential journals, papers, and scholars. The metrics have become an industry standard, and his research has been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature, and Science. He has been invited to more than 50 conferences and meetings around the globe to present his research. Some of his most recent research involves recommendation, auto-classification, and patent valuation.

Filippo Menczer is a professor of informatics and computer science, adjunct professor of physics, and a member of the cognitive science program at Indiana University, Bloomington (IUB). He holds a Laurea in Physics from the University of Rome and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego. Menczer has been the recipient of Fulbright, Rotary Foundation, and NATO fellowships, and a Career Award from the National Science Foundation. He currently serves as director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research. He previously served as division chair in the IUB School of Informatics and Computing, as Fellow-at-large of the Santa Fe Institute, and as Lagrange Senior Fellow at the Institute for Scientific Interchange Foundation in Torino, Italy. His research is supported by the NSF, DARPA, and the McDonnell Foundation. It focuses on web science, social networks, social media, social computation, web mining, distributed and intelligent web applications, and modeling of complex information networks.

Jennifer Lin is a senior product manager at PLOS. She is passionate about open access and its political and social impacts. As a former business consultant with Accenture, she worked with Fortune 500 companies as well as governments to develop and deploy new products and services. Jennifer received her Ph.D. in political philosophy and has served as an instructor at Johns Hopkins University.

Enrico Motta has a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence and is professor of Knowledge Technologies at the Knowledge Media Institute of The Open University. He is the author of more than 280 refereed publications and his h-index is 49. Currently, much of his research focuses on the design and implementation of innovative user-centric solutions, which are able to take advantage of the very large amounts of data that are available online by using hybrid methods that typically integrate language, semantic, and machine learning technologies. In particular, he is currently working on a novel tool that supports the exploration of scholarly data to facilitate trend analysis and expert search in academia, and to allow users to discover interesting relations and similarities between authors. Motta is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, which is ranked as the top journal in HCI by Microsoft Academic Search. He is also a member of the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Web Semantics and IEEE Intelligent Systems. In 2003, he founded the International Summer School on Ontology Engineering and the Semantic Web, which is now in its tenth edition. Motta is a member of the Management Committee of the Semantic Web Science Association and has advised strategic research boards and governments in several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, and Estonia. Together with Tom Heath, he won the Semantic Web Challenge at the 2007 International Semantic Web Conference and, in collaboration with members of his research group, he won the best paper award at the 2008 and 2009 Asian Semantic Web Conferences.