Publishers are experiencing a shift in priorities when it comes to the structure of academic research. This is not a local issue, but a global one. Research Information brought this information to our attention in their article, “A changing landscape.”

Every stakeholder in the scholarly information supply chain has an interest in understanding the research landscape. Governments and funding institutions want to maximize the economic impact of their research strategies. Research institutions want to draw on their existing strengths and align their investments with funding priorities. Publishers are looking for the next emerging field that might support a journal or book. Researchers need to know which fields are profitable. The problem is all this is a moving target for classification and assessment.

The traditional way to measure the importance of research has been through citations. The argument has been that citations indicate the degree to which other academics have made use of a piece of work, which ought to indicate its quality or impact. There has been a lot of progress towards using non-citation based indicators for research assessment.

Traditional taxonomies were very powerful and appropriate when research fit neatly into disciplines that were reasonably static. A more nuanced approach is now needed and it must be flexible enough to allow for new ideas to emerge.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.