“If you’re interested in measuring what’s happening on the Web, or measuring what’s happening in the world of ideas, or if you’re interested in learning how you can come up with a more definitive way of finding out what ideas to follow in things like your literature reviews, this is a good class to take.”

Methods for measuring the impact of authors and publications have been used in certain fields (such as library and information science) since at least the 1960s. In the last decade, however, metrics and measurements of impact have both become easier to do (with most data available online), and more widespread (with the rapid growth of the importance of measures such as the h-index across all disciplines). While these metrics have been applied to scientific and academic outputs, similar techniques can also be used to measure economic activity, advertising attention, political visibility of parties and movements, the online prevalence of languages and cultural materials, and many other phenomena of interest to social scientists.

Outcomes: This course is designed to give students experience analysing data both from traditional sources (Web of Knowledge, Scopus, etc.) and from alternative sources (Google, social media, Wikipedia, etc.). At the end of the course students will be able to: Describe the strengths and weaknesses of various digital approaches to measuring the impact of written materials; Extract, clean, and analyse data from a variety of sources of metrics information; Present metrics data in informative formats.

Past projects: Students in the past have used these techniques to understand the growth of an area of academic interest such as ‘internet studies’, to measure the uses and impacts of a particular website or set of websites, and to track the influence of individuals online.

This page was last modified on 15 March 2017