January 28, 2022

New Article: “Mining the Secrets of College Syllabuses”

From a Nature.com:

2016-10-31_15-04-12The team behind the tool, the Open Syllabus Project (OSP), hope to nudge universities towards making more syllabuses public. They argue that doing so could aid textbook authors, instructors and course developers, and would reward the design of effective teaching materials, which is largely overlooked by conventional measures of academic effort.

“Syllabuses are among the most important documents written by scholars which are not yet widely shared, and they ought to be,” says Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Open Access Project and the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who serves on the OSP advisory board. “They reflect serious scholarly judgements about what’s worth teaching.”


The OSP distils those data down to a single metric called the teaching score, which indicates how often a text is assigned in syllabuses. It can take any value from 1 (rarely taught) to 100 (frequently taught).

According to Suber, teaching scores are an alternative to conventional metrics of scholarly impact. They reflect the burgeoning ‘alternative metrics’ ethos, which aims to quantify the whole of a person’s research output. “I think this teaching score can take part in the new alt-metrics movement and give us a more sensitive measurement of the impact of texts,” he says.

Read the Complete Article

Direct to Open Syllabus Project (OSP)

See Also:  Partnerships: Altmetric is Now Integrating Book Data From Open Syllabus Project Into Records (September 2, 2016)

See Also: What a Million Syllabuses Can Teach Us (Jan. 22, 2016; via NY Times)
Written by OSP leadership.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.