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Last modified: Thursday, August 12, 2010

IU, NISO receive Mellon grant to advance tools for quantifying scholarly impact from large-scale usage data

Aug. 12, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., and BALTIMORE, Md. -- A $349,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Indiana University Bloomington will fund research to develop a sustainable initiative to create metrics for assessing scholarly impact from large-scale usage data.

Johan Bollen

Johan Bollen

IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing associate professor Johan Bollen and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) will share the Mellon Foundation grant designed to build upon the MEtrics from Scholarly Usage of Resources (MESUR) project that Bollen began in 2006 with earlier support from the foundation. Bollen is also a member of the IU School of Informatics and Computing's Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS) and the IU Cognitive Science Program faculty.

The new funding for "Developing a Generalized and Sustainable Framework for a Public, Open, Scholarly Assessment Service Based on Aggregated Large-scale Usage Data," will support the evolution of the MESUR project to a community-supported, sustainable scholarly assessment framework. MESUR has already created a database of more than 1 billion usage events with related bibliographic, citation and usage data for scholarly content.

"We are very pleased to receive this generous support from the Mellon Foundation for planning the future of the MESUR project," said Bollen, the project's principal investigator. "The initial work on MESUR received a great deal of positive attention. We believe that there is tremendous potential in this area of research for improving the availability, rapidity and quality of scholarly assessment and this grant will help enhance the impact of MESUR and place it on a path toward viability as a public resource."


This "map of science" generated with usage data from the MESUR project shows the primary traffic patterns of science as users move from one scientific article and journal to the next.

Print-Quality Photo

The project will focus on four areas in developing the sustainability model -- financial sustainability, legal frameworks for protecting data privacy, technical infrastructure and data exchange, and scholarly impact -- and then integrate the four areas to provide the MESUR project with a framework upon which to build a sustainable structure for deriving valid metrics for assessing scholarly impact based on usage data. Simultaneously, MESUR's ongoing operations will be continued with the grant funding and expanded to ingest additional data and update its present set of scholarly impact indicators.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to serve the community and we are pleased to be partnering with Dr. Bollen on this project," said Todd Carpenter, managing director of NISO and co-principal investigator. "The project will require the coordinated and engaged participation of the full spectrum of stakeholders in scholarly communications and NISO is uniquely positioned to act as a neutral third party in bringing together these parties to obtain consensus and a successful outcome."


Data from more than 110,000 journals, newspapers and magazines, along with publisher-provided usage reports covering more than 2,000 institutions, is being ingested and normalized in MESUR's databases, resulting in large-scale, longitudinal maps of the scholarly community and a survey of more than 40 different metrics of scholarly impact.

About NISO

NISO, based in Baltimore, Md., fosters the development and maintenance of standards that facilitate the creation, persistent management, and effective interchange of information so that it can be trusted for use in research and learning. To fulfill this mission, NISO engages libraries, publishers, information aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across the entire lifecycle of an information standard. NISO is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

To speak with Bollen or Carpenter, please contact Steve Chaplin, Indiana University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or, or Karen A. Wetzel, NISO, at