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Altmetrics (Alternative Metrics): About Altmetrics

About Altmetrics

"Altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analysing and informing scholarship." (altmetrics.org)

Altmetrics (or alternative metrics) provide article-level evidence of the societal impact of research, in terms of its mentions in social media (blogs, Facebook and Twitter), Wikipedia and other quasi-scholarly platforms, news sources and policy documents. 

Altmetrics can include:

  • tweets, mentions, shares or links
  • downloads, clicks or views
  • Policy mentions
  • media mentions
  • reviews, comments, ratings, or recommendations
  • adaptations or derivative works, and
  • readers, subscribers, watchers, or followers.

Best uses

Altmetrics can help researchers understand how their outputs are being shared and discussed via social media and online and may supplement the information gained from traditional indicators.  It is important to note that, altmetrics are an indicator of the attention that an output has received, not necessarily the quality of the article!

Altmetric have created a video that explains this further. (Opens YouTube in this window)

You can download the Altmetric bookmarklet for your own use. Install it in your browser to get one-click article level indicators when reading an online journal article (works with any journal article that a DOI).

Strengths

  • Speed- Altmetrics can accumulate more quickly than traditional metrics such as citations
  • Range- Altmetrics can be gathered for many types of research output, not just scholarly articles
  • Detail- Altmetrics can give a fuller picture of research impact using many indicators, not just citations
  • Beyond Academia- Altmetrics can measure impact outside the academic word, where people may use but not cite research.

Weaknesses

  • Time dependent- Altmetric data providers, and data sources are relatively new (2011 onwards), therefore often not relevant for older outputs
  • Standards- Lack of standards for altmetrics – changing algorithms to determine scorings
  • Reliability- Altmetrics may indicate popularity with the general public rather than quality research
  • Too many!- There are many different metrics and providers to choose from, and it can be hard to determine which are relevant.