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Twenty years of PLAAS research: Recording the body of work and its impact on the scholarly domain and in social media

Venue: PLAAS Boardroom
Date: 19 Sep 2017
Time: 13:30 to 14:30

Presenter: Ms Gillian Kerchhoff, (M.Lib & Info Studies)

Scholarly communication has changed with the growth in technology, particularly the internet and the social web. The changes include a broader definition of the scholarly communication format, and the role of social media in the research process. This study sought to record the body of work that the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) produced over a 20-year period (1995 to 2015) and to measure its visibility and impact through bibliometrics and altmetrics. In this study, the first of its kind in PLAAS, citation analysis and publication counts were conducted within Scopus and Google Scholar. Altmetric analysis was achieved with the Altmetric Explorer database, and by studying three PLAAS grey literature outputs in more depth for altmetric indicators. The full list of outputs, once compiled, showed a composition of 54% grey literature published by PLAAS and 46% journal articles and monographs. The results showed that bibliometrics, as a purely quantitative indicator, can be useful in measuring the impact of a body of work on the scholarly domain, indicating in this study high publication and citation rates. The authors of the highest number of PLAAS outputs and with the highest citation counts and h-indices, were found to be the same throughout the study. These authors are closely associated with PLAAS and have contributed to the academic reputation of its research as an institute. The study was inconclusive with regard to the impact on social media platforms. One reason was that none of the grey literature from PLAAS had a unique identifier which made it difficult to track; in addition, the use of social media by the Institute and its researchers was intermittent and uneven in covering all the PLAAS-published outputs that were produced.

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