Reshaping how universities can evaluate the research impact of open humanities for societal benefit
The Journal of Electronic Publishing
School of Arts and Humanities
During the twenty-first century, for the first time, the volume of digital data has surpassed the amount of analog data. As academic practices increasingly become digital, opportunities arise to reshape the future of scholarly communication through more accessible, interactive, open, and transparent methods that engage a far broader and more diverse public. Yet despite these advances, the research performance of universities and public research institutes remains largely evaluated through publication and citation analysis rather than by public engagement and societal impact. This article reviews how changes to bibliometric evaluations toward greater use of altmetrics, including social media mentions, could enhance uptake of open scholarship in the humanities. In addition, the article highlights current challenges faced by the open scholarship movement, given the complexity of the humanities in terms of its sources and outputs that include monographs, book chapters, and journals in languages other than English; the use of popular media not considered as scholarly papers; the lack of time and energy to develop digital skills among research staff; problems of authority and trust regarding the scholarly or non-academic nature of social media platforms; the prestige of large academic publishing houses; and limited awareness of and familiarity with advanced digital applications. While peer review will continue to be a primary method for evaluating research in the humanities, a combination of altmetrics and other assessment of research impact through different data sources may provide a way forward to ensure the increased use, sustainability, and effectiveness of open scholarship in the humanities.