Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Oldfather Press
Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

Distributed under Creative Commons license
First Edition, January 2011
Free digital circulation


The following chapters explore six contemporary metrics of scholarly authority (Journal Impact Factor, Web of Science citations, h-index, SCImago, article download usage data, university press book publication), considering each metric’s strengths and weaknesses as measurement tools, and speculating on the consequences their widespread utilization of each might mean for the field of Communication, the academy, and society. Leaving the task of a systematic meta-analysis of scholarly metrics for another day, this report instead is designed to work as an entry point for readers interested in how the advent of new digital measurement tools carry potential to compete with traditional gold standards such as publication of scholarly books and placement of peer-reviewed articles in print journals. Although the contributors write from different perspectives and hold diverse opinions on the value of the new digital metrics as tools to measure scholarly authority, they agree on the importance of learning about them in order to facilitate informed, situated judgments regarding their application in specific cases.

Each of the contributing authors developed and refined their chapters during my doctoral seminar in rhetoric taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in June 2010. The syllabus for that course, published as an appendix to this report, details much of the source material supporting the contributors’ findings, as well as description of how the editorial workflow was integrated into the structure of the curriculum.

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