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Measuring Research Impact: Altmetrics

Learn how to measure the impact of your research.

What are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, are new measures that take into account online reader behavior, network interactions with content, and social media. Altmetrics are meant to complement, not completely replace, traditional impact measures and are measures of online attention and engagement.

Examples of Altmetrics include:

  • mentions on Facebook, Twitter, or online news sites
  • exports to citation management systems like Mendeley or Zotero
  • downloads (of full text articles, software, etc.)
  • comments in blogs or other online forums

Strengths of Altmetrics

  • Currency - Altmetrics can be gathered and calculated immediately, compared with traditional citations that accumulate slowly.
  • Diversity - Altmetrics capture data from a variety of sources, not just the traditional academic publishing setting, and thus may reflect the broader impact of research beyond the scholarly community. Additionally, altmetrics can be captured for research outputs beyond articles, like data sets, software, molecular structures, etc.

Altmetrics in Scopus

Scopus is a large, interdisciplinary article database that is a good source of traditional impact measures (citation counts, author impact, journal impact). Scopus has incorporated article-level altmetrics via a third-party application. A summary of article-level metrics displays in the right sidebar of an article's detail page (the page you see when you click the linked title in the search results). The summary includes field-weighted benchmarking and a link to an expanded view of the metrics.

Here is an example from Scopus: At the time of this writing, this article, Thelwall M, Haustein S, Larivière V, Sugimoto CR. Do Altmetrics Work? Twitter and Ten Other Social Web Services. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(5), had been cited 84 times and had the following altmetrics:

Scopus metrics


Read More on Altmetrics

Using Altmetrics to Show Research Impact

Other Sources of Altmetrics