Field-weighting readership: how does it compare to field-weighting citations?

Recent advances in computational power and the advancement of the Internet, mean that we now have access to a wider array of data than ever before. If used appropriately, and in conjunction with peer evaluation and careful interpretation, metrics can inform and enhance research assessment through the benefits of being impartial, comparable, and scalable. There have been several calls for a “basket of metrics” to be incorporated into research evaluation. However, research is a multi-faceted and complex endeavour. Its outputs and outcomes vary, in particular by field, so that measuring research impact can be challenging. In this paper, we reflect on the concept of field-weighting and discuss field-weighting methodologies. We study applications of field-weighting for Mendeley reads and present comparative analyses of field-weighted citation impact (FWCI) and field-weighted readership impact (FWRI). We see that there is a strong correlation between the number of papers cited and read per country. Overall, per subject area for the most prolific countries, FWCI and FWRI values tend to be close. Variations per country tend to hold true per field. FWRI appears as a robust metrics that can offer a useful complement to FWCI, in that it provides insights on a different part of the scholarly communications cycle.