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Library Subject Guides

6. Measure Impact: Altmetrics

What are altmetrics?

Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, uses new sources of online data to measure the impact of academic researchers; publications

These are meant to complement, not replace, traditional measures of impact.

Examples of altmetrics

  • Number of times an article has been viewed or downloaded from a journal website, or database
  • Shares on academic networking sites such as Mendeley and CiteULike
  • Number of times an article has been exported to a citation manager
  • Number of times an article has been emailed or shared on Facebook or Twitter or other social media sites 
  • Number of times an article is mentioned in the mainstream media

Criticisms 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:

Manipulating Google Scholar Citations and Google Scholar Metrics: simple, easy and tempting
Rise of 'Altmetrics' Revives Questions About How to Measure Impact of Research
Altmetrics are the central way of measuring communication in the digital age but what do they miss?

How to find altmetric counts

Tracks social media sites, newspapers, and magazines. Altmetrics is based on three main factors: the number of individual mentioning a paper, where the mentions occurred (e.g. newspaper, a tweet), and how often the author of each mention talks about scholarly articles. Adopted by Springer, Nature Publishing and BioMed Central

  • Symplectic Elements (UC academics only)
  • Install an Altmetric Bookmarklet to capture this data from Google Scholar.

Plum Analytics
​Can be viewed in Scopus and some Ebsco databases (e.g. PsycInfo and Business Source Complete)

Allows researchers to publish all of their data in a citable, searchable and sharable manner. All data is persistently stored online under the most liberal Creative Commons licence, waiving copyright where possible. Outputs display altmetric badges.

ImpactStory Impact Story is an open-source altmetric tool which draws data from Facebook, Twitter, CiteULike, Delicious, PubMed, Scopus, CrossRef, scienceseeker, Mendeley, Wikipedia, slideshare, Dryad, and figshare. Use Firefox to create your free account. Offers a free widget that can be embedded into repositories.

Kudos is a free service through which you can broaden readership and increase the impact of your research. Kudos also provides a unique one-stop shop for multiple metrics relating to your publications: page views, citations, full text downloads and altmetrics. 

Mendeley A social reference manager that tracks readership of scholarly articles posted to the site.

PLOS ALMs (Article Level Metrics)
Custom searches to track the access and reuse of articles published in PLOS journals.

Who to Contact


Phone: +6433693881
Internal Phone: 93881

Increase your altmetrics score

To improve your altmetric scores you need to create an online presence and share information about your work and your research outputs online.

There are many ways to do this such as:


Blog about your articles or work and ask others to write blog posts about your work.


Become active on Twitter and tweet links to your articles and other work.

Use social networks for researchers

Create a profile and add your publication list to social networking sites for researchers, such as, ResearchGate and Mendeley.

Register for researcher IDs

Register for ids such as an ORCID id, ResearcherID and keep your list of publications up-to-date

Make all your research outputs available online

Make all your research outputs including data, code, videos and presentations available online by using on content hosting tools such as YouTube and Slideshare figshare

Deposit your work in an institutional or subject repository

We have our own repository at Canterbury