However it does signify an important and major change in how academic research is measured and valued.
If academics begin measuring their success in how well discussed and commented on their work is in the public sphere, they will likewise begin talking more about their research publicly in order to grow their buzz and their recognised academic prowess.
This will encourage academics to get out from their lecture theatres into the community, become more proficient at communicating their thoughts and work to a broader layman audience and making research more accessible, interesting and influential in public debates and policy work.
I also hope more publicly available research will also lead to more people interested in pursuing these careers, greater commercialisation of research work, improved scrutiny of findings and better social outcomes.
However I hope that at some point academics will realise that 'altmetrics' are simply no more than metrics - ones that are already becoming business-as-usual in commercial and public sector spheres - and focus more on involving people in and sharing their research than on the marketing buzz.
For more information on altmetrics, see:
- A manifesto on altmetrics: http://altmetrics.org/manifesto/
Also see the noteworthy tools - some have value for open policy work as well.
- A post from a company founded to develop and sell altmetrics tools to tertiary institutions, with good links to information about what altmetrics are: http://blog.plumanalytics.com/post/49874093012/plum-analytics-and-altmetrics-in-the-news