Last changed: 23 September 2016 -
By Claudio Rocchini

Who is talking about your research? Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, involves new ways to measure the impact of a scientific work.

A commonly used method to measure the impact of a published article is to find out how many times it has been cited in other publications.

Citation analysis, however, measures only the impact of the work within the scientific world. In addition, it is a slow method; the cited article must have been available before the citing article was written and went through an often quite time-consuming publication process.

Altmetrics measures other signs that the work has been noted, for example:

  • Mentions or comments in other media as news articles, blog posts, Facebook comments, tweets, discussion fora for researchers, Wikipedia or authority decisions. What do researchers, but also other interested people, practicians or opinion leaders, think about the publication?
  • Usage measures as number of downloads, savings, "likes" or "shares". This is more mechanical and anonymous, but it might potentially be valuable to know that your publication was perceived by many readers as interesting enough to save.

The sources that are used for altmetrics so far represent only a small fraction of the possible sources, and comparisons or statistics thus become unreliable. For most articles no mentions at all are documented, but they can nevertheless have been widely discussed in other media or saved in other systems than those that so far deliver data to altmetrics.

Where do I find altmetrics?

There are presently three altmetric systems on the market. The links below leads to examples of how their data are delivered.

Many publishers have installed Article level metrics (ALMs) on their websites, see for example Public Library of Science (PLOS), Nature or Elsevier. Citation analysis and analyses based on one of the available altmetric systems are included. 

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