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Citation and Journal Metrics: Altmetrics

Contains information about alternative metrics

What do altmetrics measure?

Depending on the tool used, the following may be measured:
















Figures may be drawn from services such as:

Reddit logo Mendeley logo

Blogger logo

Twitter logo

SlideShare logo

Pinterest logo

Delicious logo

Facebook logo


Altmetrics and your online profiles

There are many individual online networking tools which can serve an important role in increasing your visibility - for more on these see the Library's Networking guide. These tools will provide some metrics, but it is best to use aggregators to gain a more comprehensive overview of interest in your research.

Impactstory Blog

This blog has lots of interesting hints about metrics and networking.

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Have you seen these related guides?

About altmetrics

'Altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship'

(Priem, J et al., 'about', accessed 28 January 2014,

Altmetrics (alternative metrics) has emerged due to the limitations of traditional citation metrics such as the impact factor, providing complementary evidence of research impact. 'Altmetrics' is a very broad category that includes diverse measures that can range from a news story to a Facebook like.

You have probably already encountered altmetrics. If you have an account or profile with any social network service (Flickr, Facebook,, etc.), you will be familiar with 'likes', 'downloads', 'views', 'shares' and similar indications of interest in your activity.





Unlike citations, which take time to accumulate, impact can be assesed in real-time  

Potential for manipulation

The openness of social media provides the opportunity for artifical inflation of figures

Track impact outside the formal publishing network

Can measure the impact of a wider variety of scholarly communication channels such as datasets, presentation slides, pre-prints, videos and websites

Popularity of social media services

Comparisons of figures from a specific tool (e.g. Twitter) for material published at different times can be affected by fluctuations in the number of users

Assess reach beyond scholarly citing community

Capture evidence of engagement in broader society e.g. practitioners, undergraduates, general public including the impact of influential but uncited work


These measures and their role in measuring impact are evolving and have differeng levels of acceptance in the scholarly community


Altmetrics aggregators

'Individual researchers can try to track buzz on their own, but data-aggregation and updating services make it much easier'

(Kwok, R 2013, 'Research impact: altmetrics make their mark', Nature, vol. 500, pp. 491-493)

There are a number of services available which aggregate metrics. Each aggregator draws on a different combination of sources. Some sources are indicative of scholarly activity and others of wider engagement with the public.

The two major aggregating services available to individuals are Altmetric and Impactstory. Altmetric provides a freely available bookmarklet while ImpactStory is of September 2014 a subscription service ($60 per year).

There are also services such as Plum Analytics available for institutional subscription, but these are not  covered as they are currently unavailable to UniSA researchers.


Access Altmetric

Research outputs covered: journal articles.

Example of Altmetric aggregator in a Scopus journal record

This is an example of Altmetric at work in Scopus.

You may see figures from Altmetric on journal or publisher websites such as Wiley's open access journals or in databases such as Scopus where publishers have purchased access to the tool.

In this example, 478 is the Altmetric score. This is calculated based on volume, sources and authors and includes weighting. For more see How we measure attention.

Select See details to view a full report including Score in context (e.g. 'Very good compared to other articles of same age & journal (97th percentile)', and the first one hundred items from the following:

Example of Scopus Altmetric report

What if my article's not in Scopus? You can also use the  free Altmetric bookmarklet which enables you search for metrics when accessing journal articles on the web (use Firefox, Chrome or Safari). The bookmarklet will not work for all articles.


Access Impactstory

Research outputs covered: journal articles, slides, posters, videos, datasets, software.


Impactstory profile example [Source: Impactstory]

For a fee, you can create a profile using Impactstory and embed a link to the profile within webpages or documents.

To populate your profile you can import from your existing accounts in Google Scholar, SlideShare, GitHub and others. Use FireFox when importing from Google Scholar.

For a detailed list of metrics covered, see 'Which metrics are measured?' in the Impactstory FAQs.

'Scholarly' activity is indicated by blue (e.g. Mendeley shares) and 'public' activity (e.g. tweets) by green.