One of the things that I struggle with is how to show the value of things – what impact has doing a particular activity had?
Tying this into altmetrics and the need within the REF to demonstrate the impact of research outside academia, the same questions arise. So what if an article has been tweeted however many times? That’s interesting to know and shows a certain level of engagement with a group of people, but in order to show impact you need to take it one step further – have those people (or their readers) done anything as a result of it? How has it changed the way they look at the world/live their lives/etc? For most academic research this is very difficult as it’s not always directly relevant to real life, and how would you measure statistics about it anyway? So a zillion people have seen a YouTube clip you’ve put up about your research but what does that mean?
Whilst altmetrics are interesting in that they try to log some of this they’ve only got the first step. I’m not sure there are any answers here, but as impact is something that is more and more required by funders it’s going to become more imperative to find them!