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Bibliometrics and Altmetrics: Measuring the Impact of Knowledge: Altmetrics

DEFINITION: Altmetrics

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Image by Kudryashka

"The term "altmetrics" is short for "alternative metrics." These are a range of nontraditional metrics that can be used to assess the impact that scholars have on research in their areas of study. They can include the number of article downloads, citation of research in online news/social media sources, Mendeley bookmarks (a web-based system for sharing and extracting information from PDFs and other electronic documents), and nontraditional forms of scholarship.

"Altmetrics are measures of scholarly impact mined from activity in online tools and environments," says Jason Priem, a doctoral student, Royster Fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and author of Altmetrics: A Manifesto ( "Given the potential of Twitter as an altmetrics source, I think it's fitting the word was, as far as I know, first used as part of a tweet."

Careless, J. (2013). Altmetrics 101: A Primer. (cover story). Information Today, 30(2), 1-36. [Accessed November 2016].

Altmetrics Webinar

The first part of the webinar hosted by LITA provides an excellent overview of altmetrics, its benefits, and ways to use it to support your research story. 

Criticism of Altmetrics

Attempts to use data derived from social media sources as measures of research influence are intriguing efforts to refine and improve accepted methods, which are widely seen as unsatisfactory for various reasons. It is important to note that these attempts may bring real improvement, or may simply generate more numbers and graphs.

Altmetrics, like established scholarly metrics, measure the activity surrounding a particular scholarly work which is in turn being taken as an indication of the report's scholarly significance. In that respect, it should not be assumed that altmetrics show an altogether different or “better” picture than that which is revealed through other scholarly metrics. Altmetrics are merely seeking to provide a more complete version of that picture.

Concerns have also been raised about the manipulation of these metrics.  A paper published in December of 2012, linked below, examined Google Scholar's services in particular and concluded that it was quite easy to atifically inflate a paper's scores as determined by Google Scholar's metrics.  For further reading on these topics, follow the links below:

Altmetrics Communities

The links below will allow you to connect with both altmetrics users and individuals interested in subject:

  • #altmetrics on Twitter
    A great deal of discussion about altmetrics takes place on Twitter through the use of the #altmetrics hashtag.
    This website serves as a hub for much of the activity surrounding altmetrics. Though their lists of Tools and Communities do not seem to have been updated recently, their listing of events is updated consistently.
  • Mendeley Altmetrics Group
    From the group's description: The aim of this group is to discuss new approaches to the assessment of scholarly impact based on new metrics.

Literature Spotlight

The Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology published a special issue on altmetrics in its April/May 2013 issue.

This issue covered topics including the relationship between altmetics and open access, altmetrics and repositories, and the usefulness of altmetrics to scholarship in developing countries.

To read the bulletin, click on the image below: 


Free Altmetrics Tools

Several tools are being developed to help you measure the influence of your scholarly work and tell your impact story: - Allows sharing of publications between users, and tracks views, downloads, and citations. - Allows users to follow the research of other academics. - Displays altmetric information for recently-published articles in the Public Library of Science. - Provides a framework for assessment of biomedical research impact - Find out who's reading what you're reading. - A repository where users can make their research available in a manner that allows it to be easily cited, shared, and discovered. It tracks views and shares on a few social media platforms. - Allows users to share and review scholarly publications. It also tracks mentions of articles on Twitter. - This is a browser plugin that utilizes Google Scholar to provide citation analysis data.

Altmetric Bookmarklet

Reading a paper and want to find out its Altmetric details? Install the free bookmarklet for Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Just drag it to your bookmarks bar from the Altmetric Bookmarklet web site.

Keep in mind:

  1. It works only when DOI is available, and in several databases such as PubMed and arXiv.
  2. It works when publishers embed Google Scholar friendly citation metadata.
  3. Twitter mentions are only available for articles published since July 2011.
  4. Check the FAQ section for more limitations of this tool.

Source: Loria, P. (2013). Impact beyond metrics: Telling your research impact story. (.ppt) [Accessed June, 2014].

 Altmetrics Example

An example of how to use the Altmetrics bookmarklet to find the impact of an article. 

Other Altmetrics Tools by subscription

Interested in using these products? Suggest a tool for subscription to your library liaison or fill out the form to suggest a purchase.

Though some of their services are fee-based, their Altmetric Bookmarklet is a free service that provides metrics on recent literature. 

The University of Baltimore has a subscription to Plum Analytics via Langsdale Library. Please see the Plum Analytics section under Citation SearchingEBSCO Databases for more information about how it works. - Shows the impact of research products in journal articles, blogs, datasets, and software