Author : Zachary Schoenberger
Academic social networking services (SNSs) such as ResearchGate.com or Academia.Edu have recently experienced a surge in popularity (Ortega, 2016). Existing research into academic SNSs have focused on population parameters and social networking usage patterns. Currently, no research has been conducted on the quality of bibliographic metadata on academic SNSs.
Bibliographic metadata functions to support user tasks, including finding, identifying, selecting, and obtaining information resources. “Creator” metadata, which describes resource authorship, helps users find and identify digital works in a repository.
Additionally, academic researchers rely on author attribution for their professional promotion and prestige, and they are accustomed to scholarly environments which implement standards that support accurate author attribution.
This study therefore examines “creator” metadata for University of Alberta publications posted on Academia.Edu, and compares these with publisher created records of the same titles. Metadata quality is assessed through the measurement of completeness, consistency, and accuracy.
The study reveals that Academia.Edu “creator” metadata is significantly incomplete compared to publisher metadata, and the frequency of incomplete records increases in proportion to the size of the author cohort. This incompleteness is evidence of poor metadata quality on Academia.Edu.
Academia.Edu “creator” metadata is, however, much more consistent than publisher metadata. Finally, accuracy is found to be an inadequate determiner of metadata quality, as the presence of user generated metadata calls into question the conceptual stability of “authenticity” and “authority,” upon which a measure of accuracy depends.
This study of metadata quality therefore reveals the complexity and contradiction that underlies this topic. In terms of completeness, Academia.Edu metadata is poor in quality. In terms of consistency, Academia.Edu metadata excels in quality.
Finally, the study recommends further investigation into the definition of authority in relation to user-contributed metadata.