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STPI traveled to Italy for the ISSI 2019 Conference



STPI traveled to Italy in September 2019 to attend the 17th International Conference on Scientometrics & Informetrics, organized under the auspices of the International Society for Informetrics and Scientometrics (ISSI). In the Conference, STPI presented a paper titled “Reframing the Absorptive Capacity’s Mediating Effects on R&D Investment: Organizational Barrier and Quadruple-Helix Collaboration” to discuss the emerging evaluation and analysis of issues, and the quantitative measuring on the impact of technological innovations.

 The conference featured an STI Indicators Conference Track that focused on the use of indicators in different contexts, ranging from understanding institutional, structural, and developmental processes to their use as analytical tools in knowledge management and STI policy decision-making.

In the Keynote Speech session, Professor Thelwall discussed three recent developments that have changed the scientometric practice, including Altmetrics, full-text mining, and the impact agenda. He explained how the use of Altmetrics supports research evaluation narratives and policy decision-making. Also, he pointed out that the development of full-text mining reflects the increasing availability of open-access documents and can obtain information about citation contexts. This approach has the potential to identify important types of citations to get more precise evidence of the type of impact reflected by citation counts.

Under the UK Research Excellence Framework, the impact agenda requested researchers to produce evidence-based narratives describing how their research offers non-academic benefits, which has propelled UK universities to promote societal impact. Altmetric and Webometric indicators are often used to provide evidence in some of these narratives. The talk also elaborated on the potential biasing and systemic effects that can lead to unintended consequences while using research indicators.

Professor Carson also pointed out in his speech that we are measured, surveyed, and subject to constant surveillance through an array of quantitative measures such as economic forecasts, climate modeling, weather predictions, and journal impact factors. These quantification and measurement can bring insights as well as perils. By examining examples from the history of quantification, Carson suggested that quantification and measurement should be seen not only as objective, technical pursuits but also as subjective narratives. According to Carson, every act of seeing is also an act of occlusion, of not-seeing, and quantification is often the result of reductions and simplifications, which led to a series of moral issues: Who should pay the price for the simplified quantitative data? Whose sight is valued, and what picture of the world results from these pre-established forms of quantification as opposed to some others?    

The keynote speeches and paper presentations during the conference encouraged participants to not only examine how measurements relate to assessments but also reflect on issues such as the impact of measurements and potentially biasing methods, which was particularly inspiring for the practice and design of related research.