Newsline July 2016

Trust is an inherent part of almost all human interactions. From driving down the street trusting that the other drivers will stay on their side of the road to trusting that no one will break in and take our stuff while we're are away and that our children will be safe when we pick them up from school, we require trust even when we're not conscious of it. We tend to trust what we see and what we read to understand the world around us; it's the currency of a civilized society.

Trust is embedded in the Internet as well; when you click on a link, you rely on it to take you where you expect. When the network consisted of only a few hundred computer scientists at a relatively small number of academic and corporate institutions, this foundation of trust made a lot of sense, and led to a variety of assumptions and social constructs that lowered the system's requirements early on. However, it also created longer-term problems, such as issues surrounding preservation, authentication, identity management, and activity monitoring, some of which are more difficult to solve than others. One way of rebuilding trust while tackling these issues is by using standards, which signal integrity to the community and create confidence in how processes and systems function.

Standards for assessment are also critical in building and maintaining trust, because we require standards to count and measure things. When we fill up a car at the gas station we trust that when the pump reads 16 gallons, that's what it dispensed. NISO has been involved in establishing assessment methodologies since ANSI Z39.7 - Information Services and Use: Metrics & statistics for libraries and information Providers - Data Dictionary was first published in 1968. Over the years since then, the organization has been involved in a variety of assessment and usage-tracking-related activities.

Assessment and usage tracking were behind NISO's launch of the Alternative Assessment Initiative back in 2013. As the community began using and applying new forms of metrics to the assessment of scholarship, it made sense that there should be related standards and best practices to help. Working with the community, we considered a variety of potential standards directions, identified the key needs, and then worked toward agreement on those components that would build trust in altmetrics. Earlier this year, we released public drafts of a code of conduct, definitions and use cases, lists of identifier components, and a report on metrics for nontraditional content forms. The working groups that developed the NISO recommendations on alternative assessment will finalize and publish their documents in the coming weeks, and NISO will announce publication of the material to you. 

As we head into the summer, I'd like to extend NISO's thanks to all those who contributed to this effort, whether by participating in brainstorming sessions, commenting on drafts, or serving on working groups. It has been a great effort, which NISO will continue to build upon as new forms of assessment grow and develop. You have earned a bit of summer relaxation!

I hope you all enjoy your summer.


Todd Carpenter

Executive Director