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Research Impact: Use altmetrics to assess engagement

Get strategies to increase the reach of your work and measure your research impact

Build a narrative of how people have engaged with your work online to measure the success of your engagement strategy and highlight possible areas of impact.

About altmetrics

Altmetrics provide data about attention and engagement with your research outputs. They can be calculated from a range of sources, commonly divided into five categories:

  • Usage, such as views, downloads or library holdings
  • Captures, such as bookmarks or favourites
  • Mentions, such as blog posts, comments, news articles, Wikipedia links, or reviews
  • Social media, such as tweets, likes or shares
  • Citations from other published sources such as journal articles, policy and clinical citations.

It is important to note that altmetrics don’t measure impact but allow you to build a narrative of engagement that may lead to impact. They are complementary metrics that shouldn’t be considered in isolation.

Like citation metrics, altmetrics have a range of benefits and limitations that you need to consider:

Benefits

  • Particularly useful for measuring engagement with non-traditional research outputs or engagement from non-academic audiences that is not easily captured through bibliometrics
  • Immediately available, unlike citations which can take years to emerge
  • Automatically provided for uploads on sites like Figshare or in some research databases

Limitations

  • Altmetrics scores are not meaningful in isolation. It is necessary to provide context, such as saying “It is the fourth most downloaded article from the archive.”
  • Each altmetrics provider only tracks certain sources or outlets. Check help pages for details
  • A DOI or other identifier is required to track engagement
  • No indication of whether attention was positive or negative

Read more

Priem, J., Taraborelli, D., Groth, P., & Neylon, C. (2010, October 26), Altmetrics: a manifesto.

Key tools

  • The Metrics Toolkit provides evidence-based information about research metrics (including altmetrics) across disciplines, including how each metric is calculated, where you can find it, and how each should (and should not) be applied.  
  • Install the Altmetric it! bookmarklet to view altmetrics about an output with a single click
  • Sign up for an Impact Story Profile and enter your ORCID ID to quickly see altmetrics for your publications
  • Check the 'Metrics' box on individual article pages in Scopus to see citation metrics and altmetrics