Michigan Publishing

Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan company logo

Defining the challenge

As part of one of the world’s leading research libraries, the staff of Michigan Publishing are responsible for a large portion of the publishing activity within the University of Michigan. Their activities include book publishing through the University of Michigan Press imprint, an open access journal publishing program, and the institutional repository, Deep Blue, which hosts a wide variety of grey literature outputs such as technical reports, white papers, and electronic dissertations. Substantially supported by the University (and as a fully open access publisher) Michigan’s team members are keen to consistently demonstrate their support for furthering the disciplines in which they publish – which include a mixture of humanities and the social sciences.

A second key priority for them is demonstrating the value in their activity to the publicly-funded parent institution that supports them. As such, they are constantly looking for ways to help researchers not just further progress in their field, but also to maximise the broader influence and awareness of their work in a way that can be captured and given context.

Adopting altmetrics

Tristan’s role at E4D has been to research the the climate science funding landscape following the cancellation of the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) program that was administered by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

With the cancellation of the CCAR program, there has been concern that there isn’t sufficient government funding for climate science and that this was going to seriously impact the ability of the science community to retain highly qualified experts and continue their research programs. It was important to E4D to investigate the current Canadian funding landscape for climate scientists to determine if it is fit for purpose and if it enables scientists to have an impact on our understanding of the climate.


First incorporated on their journal articles, Michigan has now rolled out Altmetric data on their open access book program, Digital Culture Books, and on the institutional repository, Deep Blue. They hope to find ways of including other content over the next few years, especially the monographs they publish through University of Michigan Press.

A particular aim across all this activity is to provide authors whose impact is often underrepresented via traditional measures (books, for example, do not get an Impact Factor) with a much more granular picture of how their work has been interpreted and reused. Through altmetrics, Michigan can deliver these faculty members examples and evidence that can be used to demonstrate their influence and reach of their research.

Feedback so far

Particularly internally, Michigan Press have seen a really positive response to the inclusion of Altmetric data. The management committee value being able to have a wider view on the impact of their publishing program, and the staff within the press are using the data to identify success stories and to help build future outreach strategy. Feedback from authors is also proving positive – with many reporting that they regularly check in on the altmetrics for their own work and that of their peers.

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