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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 26 January 2018


Almetric infographic.png
See also Bibliometrics | Impact factors | FigShare | Scopus vs. Web of Science | ImpactStory | San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) | Utopia Documents | Webometrics
According to Wikipedia, " ...altmetrics are non-traditional metrics proposed as an alternative to traditional citation impact metrics such as impact factor and h-index. Altmetrics was proposed as a generalization of article level metrics and has its roots in the #altmetrics hashtag; altmetrics is thought of as metrics about articles, but can be applied to people, journals, books, data sets, presentations, videos, source code repositories, web pages, etc. They are related to Webometrics, which had similar goals but evolved before the social web. Altmetrics did not originally cover citation counts. It also covers 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."Wikipedia

Altmetrics (alternate or alternative metrics) aims to account for total author influence in the digital age and looks beyond journal and monograph citations to the social web ie., Twitter and Facebook. Altmetrics are measures of research impact that supplement citations but are somewhat controversial. Quantifying scholarly influence on the web differs from traditional citation counting which has been in place for decades. Altmetrics, or alternative citation metrics, provides researchers with new more detailed ways to track their influence. Academic librarians should be following these trends in web-based scholarly influence by monitoring altmetric tools and social media, and by engaging with researchers in discussing these metrics.

Since the 1960s and Eugene Garfield’s pioneering work in statistical bibliography, and citation-based measurement, assessment of published research has been done through citation counts and the Journal Impact Factor. Altmetrics provides new ways of measuring impact especially the behaviours of scientists online, their interactions with their own (and others) content, and the pervasive use of social media in self-promotion.

"Altmetrics for large, multidisciplinary research groups: comparison of current tools" published in 2014 examined four altmetrics providers: ImpactStory, Altmetric Explorer, Plum Analytics and Webometric Analyst. All of this social engagement data is culled from the total numbers of views of articles, retweets of publications and knowledge objects, mentions on social media and aggregated as a measure of total impact. In other words, altmetrics looks beyond traditional metrics at the social web and mines information from it for analysis and detailed examination. An emerging area of the alternative metrics discourse is the idea of owning your social data. The idea is that connecting with others socially is part of our work as academics, and we shouldn't have to trade away our personal information to participate in social networks.

NISO Altmetrics Project

  • The Sloan Foundation in the United States awarded NISO a grant to undertake a two-phase initiative to explore, identify and advance standards and/or best practices related to new metrics in the scholarly community.
  • The NISO Altmetrics Project is a result of discussion groups during a meeting of interested parties in Chicago, Illinois. The project is an important step in the development and adoption of new assessment metrics, which include usage-based metrics, social media references and network behavioral analysis. The project explores potential assessment criteria for non-traditional research output such as data sets, visualizations, software and other applications.
  • After Phase I which exposes areas for potential standardization, the community will collectively prioritize potential projects.
  • Phase II phase will be to advance and develop those standards/best practices prioritized by the community and approved by the membership.
  • The NISO White Paper on Altmetrics summarizes community input to development of potential standards and recommended practices for research assessment metrics.


The exponential increase in scholarly output has created a deluge of data on the web. There are concerns that information is swamping scholarly publishing channels and the means of peer review and post-publication. The use of web 2.0 tools such as Twitter, Mendeley and social media such as blogs and wikis present opportunities to create new information filters and improve knowledge management. The metrics may yet yield broader, richer data and more timely scholarly impact. Some authors call the phenomenon “altmetrics”, or alternative metrics. Alternative metrics (metrics at an article or interaction level on the web) is a type of altmetrics or total metrics. Despite the growing speculation and early exploratory investigation into the value of altmetrics, there still remains little concrete, objective research into the properties of these metrics: their validity, their potential value and flaws, and what relationship they have to established scholarly measures. Nor has there been any large umbrella to bring these multiple approaches together. That said, some scholarly tracking tools have implemented early altmetric features; see Scopus altmetrics. For the latest generation of altmetrics software, see ImpactStory.

Presentations on altmetrics

see also Beyond Publish or Perish: Alternative Metrics for Scholarship Password: altmetrics

Altmetrics for health librarians

Altmetric tools

See also for a list of other altmetric tools

  • focused on making article level metrics easy; mission to track and analyse online activity around scholarly literature;
  • Altmetric score is a quantative measure of quality and quantity of attention given to articles
  • a model for assessment of research impact
  • ImpactStory uncover the invisible impacts of your research; co-authored by Heather Piwowar and Jason Priem
  • offers researchers a way of obtaining and providing feedback for each others work in a fully open and transparent environment
  • Plum™ Analytics gives researchers an advantage in conveying more comprehensive views of their output; it measures individual research artifacts, and metrics for labs, departments and other groups.
  • experimental tool that uses readership metrics derived from Mendeley, an online reference management application with social networking features
  • provides a conservative estimate of # of times journal articles from particular publishers are cited in the 100 largest Wikipedias; uses API and searches for occurences of a DOI prefix in the main namespace

Similar & related projects

  • Altmetric (Altmetric Explorer) aims to track activity around scholarly literature; the Altmetric score is a quantative measure of quality and quantity of attention given to scholarly articles
  • Bookmetrix overview of the reach, usage and readership of your book or chapter by providing various book-level and chapter-level metrics
  • CitedIn is a webtool used to explore citations on the web where a scholar's papers are mentioned in blogs, databases, Wikipedia; track resources citing a PubMed identifier
  • CrowdoMeter is a web service that displays tweets linking to scientific articles, and allows users to add semantic information using a subset of the Citation Typing Ontology (CiTO)
  • FigShare a web-based repository designed to enable research outputs to be sharable, cited/cite-able (with DOI) and visible in the browser; Figshare's platform is easy to use and helps researchers get credit for their research (both positive & negative results)
  • Newsflo for universities is ideal for tracking the media profiles of university academics and departments
  • Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID) aims to solve name ambiguity in scholarly communications by creating a registry of persistent unique identifiers for individual researchers and an open and transparent linking mechanism between ORCID, other ID schemes, and research objects such as publications, grants, and patents
  • PaperCritic offers researchers a way to monitor feedback about their scientific work, and a way to review the work of others in an open, transparent environment
  • Plum Analytics gathers metrics across five categories — usage, mentions, captures, social media and citations — what Plum Analytics calls artifacts more than just the journal articles that a researcher authors
  • ReaderMeter is a tool based on Mendeley and allows searching for authors and obtaining their metrics (HR-index, GR-index) based on number of readers
  • Webometric Analyst 2.0 analyzes the web impact of documents or web sites and creates network diagrams of collections of web sites, as well as creating networks and time series analysis of social web sites (e.g., YouTube, Twitter) and some specialist web sites (e.g., Google Books, Mendeley).

Jason Priem, UNC-Chapel Hill, School of Information and Library Science

Check out Jason Priem's website, and posts re: a study of scholars on Twitter and what it means for altmetrics, and the future of scholarly publication: Jason's altmetrics presentations are worth a close look: Toward a Second Revolution: Data citation, altmetrics, and the Decoupled Journal”

Article level metrics & altmetrics

Alternative metrics (often at an article-level) are a type of altmetrics or total metrics. Generally, altmetrics refers to usage metrics such as views or mentions on social media. The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) started publishing article-level metrics a few years ago, including views and tweets ("tweetations"). Tweets were later found to predict highly-cited items leading Eysenbach to propose "twimpact factors", ie., the number of tweets within the first 7 days of publication; and twindex, the rank percentile of the twimpact factor of an article compared to similar articles within the same journal (Eysenbach, 2011). JMIR publishes its article-level metrics (including the twimpact factor) on its Top Articles page. The Public Library of Science also introduced article level metrics on every article in all of their titles.

Bibliometrics and scientometrics

  • Bibliometrics and scientometrics are two closely-related fields that aim to measure scientific publications and science in general. A lot of the research that falls under this topic involves citation analysis, or examining how scholars cite one another in publications. Author citation data can show a lot about scholar networks and scholarly communication, linkages between scholars, and the development of areas of knowledge over time. Modern scientometrics is based on the work of Derek J de Solla Price and Eugene Garfield.
  • Research assessment and analytics: the profession of librarianship is constantly evolving. As the information landscape changes, librarians of all stripes must adapt and expand the range of services provided to ensure we remain relevant and valuable to our user communities. One recent change in this regard is the growing demand for bibliometric support as well as research assessment and analytics at research institutions. These analytics-based activities (such as altmetrics) seek to understand who produces what research at any given institution, who they collaborate with to produce this knowledge, what exactly their research is about, and what impacts their research has in fields, and generally within the academy. As a response, librarians at academic institutions offer research assessment services. New roles are available to academic librarians in analyzing research within their organizations and to facilitate communication among those who want to provide aspects of research assessment services in their liaison work. The need for research assessment services must be determined in conjunction with librarians and information professionals who already provide these services, and opportunities should be identified to expand these services at other institutions.


According to Acharya A et al. Rise of the rest: the growing impact of non-elite journals. arXiv. 16 October 2014, the idea of non-elite journal articles (traditionally, those that have not been cited much) have started to be cited more in the last ten years due to Google scholar.

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