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Scholarly Publishing and Research Impact: Mid to Late Career Researcher Edition: Beyond Citations: Altmetrics

This guide to scholarly communications will acquaint researchers with knowledge and tools for better understanding and managing the creation and dissemination of their scholarly research.

What are Altmetrics?

"altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship." (

Alternative metrics, or altmetrics, involve evidence of discussion happening online, including links, shares, views, and downloads in social media, blogs, and other venues, which can demonstrate popular or societal impact in areas such as education, public policy, etc.

"Correlation and factor analysis suggest citation and altmetrics indicators track related but distinct impacts, with neither able to describe the complete picture of scholarly use alone." - Jason Priem, Heather Piwowar, and Bradley H. Hemminger, "Altmetrics in the Wild: Using Social Media to Explore Scholarly Impact"

As the brief intro video below concisely states, altmetrics are "meant to complement, not replace, citations."


Altmetric Badges in Databases

NGL's Engine Orange search engine: includes "Plumprint" to illustrate altmetrics data from PlumX Metrics

PlumX Metrics in Engine Orange

Other databases including Elsevier's ScienceDirect, Wiley Online Library, and Taylor & Francis Online: incorporate article-level metrics for some or all content (often sourced through the company Altmetric, so largely consistent across platforms) 

In a selected article: look for a colorful Metrics bar or wheel to see altmetrics from different sources or channels

Related blog post from Elsevier: "Article level metrics: a valuable way to gauge an article’s real-time impact" (3 Sept 2015). 

Free Browser Bookmarklet to Get Data from

One click displays altmetric data for an article you're reading on the web (your own work or someone else's). Be aware that stats from may only be accurate back to a 2011 publication date. 

(Note: Article must include a Digital Object Identifier, or DOI, for the bookmarklet to work.)


Altmetric bookmarklet free browser plugin

Free DOI Look-Up Tool to Find PlumX Metrics

If you know an article's DOI (Digital Object Identifier), you can use it to look up PlumX Metrics for that article for free. Just add the DOI to the end of this URL:


Understanding and Using Altmetrics

What Can Social Media Tell Me About My Research?

How To Gather Evidence of Attention from Social Media

The Impact of Social Media?

Opinions and data are mixed on how much social media promotion increases metrics such as downloads and citations. 

Pay attention to how much of a role social media discussion of research plays in your field or among the audience you intend to reach, and be savvy in deciding how much (or how little!) time to commit to promoting your work on social media.


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