Thing 15: Altmetrics

Last week you learned how to create media and share some of your research online. Not only does this help to bring your research to a wider audience, it also creates impact for you as a researcher.

You might be familiar with traditional metrics for measuring the impact of research. For example, publications have their citation count; journals have their impact factor; and individual authors have their h-index.

Did you know that it is also possible to measure your impact from sharing research online and through social media? Article Level, or Altmetrics can apply to people, journals, books, data sets, presentations, videos, source code repositories, web pages, and more. Altmetrics cover not just citation counts, but also other aspects of the impact of a work, such as how many data and knowledge bases refer to it, article views, downloads, or mentions in social media and news media.

The term ‘Altmetrics’ was first coined in 2010, and the method has been growing in popularity ever since. Although not yet commonly used amongst researchers, higher level bodies like publishers and research councils are adopting them and it is possible to view the Altmetric ratings for articles from publishers such as PLoS, Nature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, and Springer.

Several services exist to aggregate and calculate Altmetric scores, including:

Perhaps the most well known is, which is run by Elsevier, who also manage the publication database Scopus. For any particular piece of research, calculates a single score, and presents it in the form of a badge. The badge looks like a multicoloured donut, graphically presenting the composition of the altmetric sources used to calculate the overall Altmetric score.


Visit and explore the services offered on the site. What are the benefits for publishers, institutions, or individual researchers?

Follow the instructions to install the Bookmarklet app. This will allow you to instantly view the altmetric score for any individual piece of research. Try finding the abstract of one of your papers, or for a well-known paper in your research field, and have a look at the altmetrics associated with it.

Exploring further

If you are worried about tracking your metrics following a surname change, or perhaps you are unsure as to whether Altmetrics would be able to track YOU specifically (perhaps your name is John Smith?) You might wish to investigate ORCID. ORCID, or the Open Researcher and Contributor ID is a unique academic author identification code. It’s extremely easy to set up, and once done, provides a simple method of attributing your work to YOU (and not some other John Smith).


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