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4.2 History, Development and Conceptual Predecessors of Altmetrics

Clemens Blümel and Stephan Gauch

Abstract

The contribution by Blümel and Gauch engages with the history of altmetrics, or, more precisely, with the sociotechnical arrangements within the scientometric community that gave way to the conceptual and technical becoming of altmetrics. Rather than starting out with a general overview on the history of the scientometric community, the authors set their starting point in the mid-90s with the emergence of the World Wide Web. Based on a bibliometric analysis by tracing the citation structure of current altmetrics-related publications, they are able to identify three phases that relate to the discursive processing of the community. The first phase can be associated with the coining of the concept of online usage statistics, giving birth to cybermetrics or webometrics. In the second phase of “methodological scrutinization”, scientometricians dealt with emerging quality issues that these new indicators produced vis-à-vis established scientometric practices, e.g. by engaging in cross-correlation studies and identifying systematic issues. The third phase is characterized by “conceptual scrutinization” where scientometricians re-conceptualize and re-organize concepts according to these new indicators. We argue that these patterns are repeating in the case of altmetrics, which currently leads to the opening up of disciplinary logics to other fields and conceptual approaches.

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