This page contains information about each of the article-level metrics that we track. Summary tables of 'average usage' are also available, as well as an FAQ page, a page containing a technical description of our usage data in particular; and a summary Excel file containing the full data set.
At Social Sciences Directory, we believe that research articles should primarily be judged on their individual merits, rather than on the basis of the journal in which they happen to be published. Article-level metrics place relevant data on each article to help users determine the value of that article to them and to the scholarly community in general. It is important to note that with the exception of online usage, these metrics tend to take time to accrue. Therefore, newly published articles will typically show lower levels of activity (for any given metric) for the initial weeks or months after publication than older articles.
There are a number of known issues with some of the metrics, and details on these issues are provided in the section below.
Finally, Social Sciences Directory is committed to the open provision of these metrics, and we hope that by making such data available, researchers will investigate and analyse them in new and interesting ways.
Online Usage Data
Where possible we will provide our articles in three different formats: the HTML page (suitable for onscreen viewing), a PDF file (which many people prefer when printing an article), and the original XML (the raw data used to generate the HTML and PDF files). We record the number of times that each format is accessed and we provide this information as a number of "article views" for each article. Article views (split into the three types of file format) are provided as an aggregate metric, as well as in a month-by-month breakdown in graphical format. Detailed, technical information relating to our usage data can be found at our Usage Help page.
Clearly, it is useful to have data on the amount of online usage that an article receives. Although we are not the first to provide usage data of this type, they have rarely been provided by journal publishers, and therefore such data should be interpreted with caution. In general, usage is dependent on the age of the article and its subject area. To assist in the interpretation of usage data, we have provided summary tables showing useful average figures. In addition, interested researchers can download our entire dataset as an Excel file (updated periodically).
We have also provided detailed technical information about our online usage data.
Comments and Notes
Our publishing platform allows users to leave Comments (about an entire article) or Notes (about specific parts of the article). Users may be anonymous, their comments must adhere to our guidelines for commenting, commentators must declare competing interests (when they exist), and Social Sciences Directory staff monitor all comments.
It should also be noted that not all comments about an article are made using the functionality on our own site. People may also choose to comment about an article in a blog post, in the news media, in other discussion forums, etc., and so we are attempting to locate these external commentaries, compile them, and present links to them on the paper. Linking to blog coverage is the first step in this process.
As mentioned above, many blog articles are written about articles published in Social Sciences Directory. Linking to blog coverage is not yet comprehensive: we rely on the ability of third parties to find blog postings and match them to Social Sciences Directory articles. In many cases, blog authors do not reference the article in a way that allows for automated aggregation, and the aggregating services we link to cover only a selection of all possible blogs. Therefore, there will potentially be many more blogs about an article than these aggregators are able to identify.
Finally, our platform supports "trackback" functionality (which provides another way for bloggers to link to an article, and for us to automatically show that link on our site). If you are a blogger, we encourage you to use trackbacks and to make sure you reference the article using the Digital Object Identifier (DOI).
Known Issues with Article-Level Metrics
There are limitations to the data that we are supplying. A list of the known limitations is as follows:
Robot activity: We have excluded a large list of robots from our online usage data - however, no robot list can ever be exhaustive and some level of robot usage will undoubtedly remain in the data.
These guidelines are adapted from the PLoS ONE website (http://www.plosone.org), published under the Creative Commons Attribution License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.