Showing posts with label altmetrics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label altmetrics. Show all posts

11 August 2016

Understanding altmetrics

Interested in gathering an overview of who is viewing, sharing and talking about your research within and beyond academia? Want to know how to use this knowledge to improve your reach and possible engagement? Cassandra Freeman explains how altmetrics can help your research reach further.

What are altmetrics? 

Altmetrics have evolved from measures of scholarly impact based on author and article citation counts and journal impact factor, known as Bibliometrics. It began with the introduction of article level metrics by PLOS (Public Library of Science) in 2006, to recognise that scholarly communication was changing as academics were moving into an online environment and engaging more with social media. As a result, impact should be measured at the article level with views, downloads, mentions and shares of an article tracked and shown in addition to citation counts. 

The term altmetrics, a shortening of “alternative” metrics, was first used in a 2010 tweet by Jason Priem, a doctoral student who went on to co-found one of the main altmetrics tracking services, Impactstory. Priem liked the emphasis placed on article level metrics, but felt it still did not recognise that academics produce a diverse range of research outputs in addition to journal articles, and the dissemination and online engagement with these outputs should also be tracked and counted.  Altmetrics, therefore, can be used to mean “Impact measured based on online activity, mined or gathered from online tools and social media”, or metrics for alternative scholarly outputs.

Where can you view altmetrics?

It can take time to utilise the tools to gather all the metrics associated with a research output, and to get an overview and analyse the numbers from so many sources. Publishers and companies that provide products for academic institutions now offer this service. Currently, there are three main tracking services. Two of these are and PlumAnalytics, commercial products that offer more detailed analytics of altmetrics for academic institutions and researchers for a subscription fee. EBSCO PlumAnalytics categorise their metrics into 5 main categories of usage, captures, mentions, social media, and citations. Basic information provided by the Plum widget for articles can be freely viewed in the CINAHL and Business Source complete database. is a product of the Digital Science publishing company, who also developed the secure repository service recently launched at Monash called Figshare. The repository is key to the availability and discoverability of research outputs, as not only journal articles can be deposited and made public (if publisher compliant) but also videos, slides, data, posters etc. which if the researcher chooses to make public are given a citable DOI (digital object identifier). It is the identifiers that can then be tracked for mentions, shares and usage across social media platforms.

Monash.figshare users can now also view the badge ‘donut’ on their dashboard to view the altmetrics of any of their publicly viewable research outputs. The donut provides a weighted score, based on volume, sources and author. For a detailed explanation of the donut read more here

The badge is a free tool that can also be embedded into a researcher’s own personal webpage, and the free Altmetric bookmarklet  can be added to a browser so that anyone can view the altmetrics of any research output with a permanent identifier. Some e-journals and online databases including Wiley online, Springer and Taylor & Francis, also have the Altmetric badge next to selected article results. The Monash Library Search has a Metrics tab using the donut for articles with participating publishers and a DOI. has also recently launched the badge for books and chapters.

The third company is a service called Impactstory, co-founded by Jason Priem, mentioned above. Researchers can now join for free with their ORCiD. Described as a hybrid research service, it provides researchers with a profile page and can also be linked to other accounts such as a Google Scholar profile and ORCiD for automatic import. Once a profile has been created, researchers can manually add the URLS of any videos they have produced, link to webpages, or add the DOI of articles they have published. Impactstory will then track their research outputs and update the altmetrics associated with them.

Another free service called Kudos has been gaining more attention, and recently signed an agreement with SAGE publishing to assist their authors with the dissemination of their research. Kudos provides authors with trackable links to their articles and also provides a platform for researchers to use plain language to explain their work. An example of how they do this can be viewed here.

Altmetrics are reliant on discoverability, correct attribution and promotion. Ensure you register for an ORCiD to create your own unique researcher identifier, publish open access, deposit your research outputs in monash.figshare, and make them public if possible. Develop an online profile and think about a social media strategy to start promoting your research. Think about using the free tools to see who is already sharing your research for possible collaboration or targeting policy makers.

Altmetrics are not a replacement of traditional research impact measurement tools, 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:

What constitutes valuable scholarship? The use of altmetrics in promotion and tenure.
EDUCAUSE Review 51, no. 2 (March/April 2016)

Policy impact and online attention: Tracking the path from research to public policy on the social web.
LSE Blog

Social Media Metrics in Scholarly Communication Exploring tweets, blogs, likes and other altmetrics
Special issue of Aslib Journal of Information Management:

Monash Library Search record

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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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