Altmetrics

Altmetrics provide complementary metrics for publications. The performance of scientific publications is traditionally based on how often these publications are cited in other scientific publications. Altmetrics includes also number of downloads and mentions on social media.

The performance of scientific publications is traditionally based on how often these publications are cited in other scientific publications. Measures, such as the Journal Impact Factor and the h-index for individual scientists, are derived from these citation counts.

Altmetrics provide complementary metrics for publications. These data can include the following:

  • the numer of downloads
  • uptake in personal Mendeley libraries
  • mentions on Twitter and Facebook
  • mentions in selected blogs
  • mentions in news outlets
  • mentions in (inter)governmental policy documents

Two well-known companies that collect altmetrics data are Plum Analytics, and Altmetric. The company Altmetric provides a free bookmarklet to view altmetric data of scientific articles online. Impactstory is a service that allows you to track your own online mentions.

Besides these initiatives, publishers often provide their own altmetric data, such as downloads or views. Academic networks, such as ResearchGate or Academia.edu, also come with their own altmetric scores. But, these scores are easy to influence and are not yet considered valid indicators of a scientist’s impact.

Altmetrics can give interesting information about a publication’s online uptake, sharing and impact. Altmetrics data are available faster than citation based measures, as downloads and online shares can be given immediately upon online publication. Altmetrics may indicate societal or educational relevance of publications or scientists. However, altmetrics do not yet offer good benchmarks to assess the performance of publications or scientists.