The numbers are in, and five papers with Duke authors cracked the Top 100 Altmetric scores for 2015.

Example of an Altmetric analysis.

Example of an Altmetric analysis.

Yeah, it all seems a little gimmicky and meta, but the scores can be useful. Altmetric (to which Duke has an institutional membership) combines multiple counts of news stories, social media chatter and professional citations on an academic paper to give it a single score. Obviously, the system’s greatest strength is comparing this to other Altmetric scores, but it’s actually a lot of fun.

Duke’s biggest score – a very impressive Altmetric 2294 – came in at #5 on the list. “Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science” attracted a lot of attention in Science, spawning 74 news stories and nearly 2,000 tweets. Postdoctoral researcher Nina Strohminger of the Kenan Institute for Ethics is one of the authors from 125 institutions on the paper that suggests psychology has some housekeeping to do.

At number 28 with an Altmetric of 1,279, came “Global, regional and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990-2013 (here comes the colon!): a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.” This Lancet paper, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is every bit as massive and important as its title. Among its thousands of authors is our own Terrie Moffitt. It garnered 39 news stories and 1400 tweets and has already been incorporated into nine Wikipedia entries.

A companion paper with another big title for another big study, “Global, regional, and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013,” came in at #36 on the list with an Altmetric of 1180. Its authors might be jealous of #28, but it’s mostly the same folks! Eighty people saw fit to post this one on Facebook and 60 on Google+.

Two papers out of the now-defunct NSF think-tank the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) rounded out our top 100 at #72 and #87.

What are the largest ocean giants?

What are the largest ocean giants?

Craig McClain of NESCent and Duke Biology led “Sizing Ocean Giants,” an analysis that tries to get the right dimensions on a bunch of intimidating ocean creatures including the giant clam and the colossal squid (which turns out to be only a third the size of the less impressively named giant squid). The paper’s Altmetric of 954 was led by 24 news stories, 24 blog posts and almost 900 tweets. McClain also leads a very popular marine science blog “Deep Sea News” which probably aided the story’s social presence.

Number 87 was “Synthesis of phylogeny and taxonomy into a comprehensive tree of life,” which included Karen Cranston of NESCent and Duke Biology. This hugely ambitious effort to draw a tree of life for the whole planet at once earned an Altmetric of 895 by garnering 21 news stories, 12 blogs and nearly 900 tweets. And it too has been incorporated into Wikimedia – once so far.

It’s a brave new world out there in academic publishing.

Karl Leif Bates

Post by Karl Leif Bates