Monitoring and evaluation

A brief introduction to altmetrics for researchers

By 11/09/2013

Alternative metrics tools are a new way to track and measure the social impact of research in real time. Altmetrics track research uptake via social media, citation counting, mentions or bookmarks, attention in high profile blogs and even Wikipedia posts.

It’s not exactly always simple and may require some effort to set up an account. For example, if you are highly published and do not have an ORCIDidaccount it can require you to input individually your articles or DOIs (Digital Object Identifier System), or alternatively, Google Scholar can be used to download a body of literature for some sites.

However, the good news is there are a plethora of sites to choose from. They include comprehensive and centralised sites such as Altmetric, ImpactStory and PlumAnalytics. Or article level metrics are available from Mendeley, PLoS and Frontiers, which feature indicators like article downloads and the geographical breakdown of readers.

Altmetrics have a number of advantages for researchers:

  • Metrics can be added to a CV or used to enhance an online research platform/ collaboration site.
  • Altmetrics are a useful tool to track the social impact and the uptake of specific articles.
  • The geographical breakdown and profession of your readers can show the breadth of uptake beyond a specific field or discipline.
  • Social media statistics and bookmarks can show public engagement with research and even allow feedback.
  • It could be useful to scope out particular collaborators who are engaging with your research.
  • It allows better understanding of the research community and how it communicates, for example metrics include mentions by F1000 and pick up by academic blogs.
  • As well as assessing certain papers or individuals some sites allow research groups or departments to be evaluated as a whole.
  • What it doesn’t tell you is just as important as the metrics it does show; gaps should be used to improve future research dissemination strategies and achieve better social impact along with heightened research visibility.
  • Altmetrics should be used in parallel with impact factors and citation counts to add a more nuanced, qualitative side to impact.
  • They amass much quicker than citation counts, with results in days.

Other Useful Sites:

The Altmetrics Manifesto

Slideshare by Jean Liu and Euan Adie, from Altmetric

Altmetrics and the Global South; Increasing Research Visibility