18 June 2015


Interested in knowing whether your research is being mentioned and shared in online environments and across social media platforms? Then altmetrics might be your answer... by Cassandra Freeman.

You may already be familiar with Bibliometrics and the way in which you can measure the number of times your journal article has been cited or know the impact factor of the journal where you have published your research.
The term altmetrics, a shortening of "alternative" metrics, was first introduced in a 2010 tweet by Jason Priem, a co-founder of Impactstory. Priem went on to describe them as "new metrics based on the social web for analysing and informing scholarship". Altmetrics are said to be a measurement of the "societal impact" of research and also enable the ability to measure the impact of "digital scholarship projects" such as conference posters, websites or exhibitions.
Research dissemination has changed in recent years as information can now be shared at lightning speed across multiple social media platforms to an audience of billions. Many academics are developing more of an online presence and sharing their research outputs in these forums or networks. You could be reporting your research at a conference and hundreds of people are tweeting and retweeting it to a variety of people around the world in a matter of seconds.
It was through the need to try and gauge the impact research was having in this new environment of scholarly communication that has resulted in the development of these new metric tools.
Altmetric tools
Altmetric measurement services such as Impactstory and Ebsco's Plum Analytics, extract information from sources that include:
  • twitter, blogs, facebook
  • social bookmarking networks like Delicious and Connotea
  • academic bookmarking platforms (CiteULike, Mendeley)
  • mainstream news media outlets
  • grey literature, including policy papers, conference proceedings and reports
Where can you view Altmetrics?
Some e-journals and online databases including Wiley Online and Scopus, have embedded altmetric information next to article results. There is also an Altmetric bookmarklet that can be downloaded into your browser to view the altmetrics of an article you may be reading.
The Library's Search tool also has a new Metrics tab for articles with a DOI (digital object identifier). If your article has been shared by others across a variety of online platforms or social networks it is now possible to view the number of shares.
Altmetrics are not a replacement of traditional research impact measurement tools, but rather they can be used in addition to other metrics. For more information about altmetrics and measurement tools see the Monash Research Impact and Publishing Library Guide.

Further reading:
Bornmann, L 2014, 'Do altmetrics point to the broader impact of research? An overview of benefits and disadvantages of altmetrics', Journal of Informetrics, vol.8, no.4, pp. 895-903, doi:10.1016/j.joi.2014.09.005

Holmberg, K 2014, 'Altmetrics may be able to help in evaluating societal reach, but research significance must be peer reviewed', The Impact Blog: The London School of Economics and Political Science, web blog post, 9th July,


Human Head With Social Network Icons Photo by KROMKRATHOG from

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