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The purpose of this guide is to provide resources and information to the UMass Medical School community about open access and new models of scholarly publishing.
Last Updated: Apr 14, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Altmetrics Print Page

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New report on Altmetrics and medical research

The February 2015 research report "Altmetric Mentions and the Communication of Medical Research: Disseminating Research Outcomes Outside Academia" looks at whether data emerging from media ‘mentions’ of medical research provide timely indicators of outcomes linked to social and technical innovation for stakeholders in networks beyond academia.


In the News

What Jeffrey Beall gets wrong about altmetrics (Impactstory blog, 9 September 2014)

Response to the anti-altmetrics claims raised by librarian Jeffrey Beall in a blogpost titled, “Article-Level Metrics: An Ill-Conceived and Meretricious Idea.”

Research Trends special issue on altmetrics (Research Trends, Issue 37, June 2014)

This special issue of Research Trends includes 9 articles about altmetrics. 

Four great reasons to stop caring so much about the h-index (Impactstory blog, 26 March 2014)

Explains four ways the h-index is failing on the job and shouldn't be taken too seriously.


What Are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, are new ways to track and measure scholarly influence and research impact in real time.  They measure the attention an article (or any sort of online publication) has received online, including social media mentions, news coverage, downloads, bookmarks, blog mentions, etc.  They are complementary to traditional bibliometrics such as the Journal Impact Factor and personal citation indices like the H-index.  

Helpful introductory resources about altmetrics:


Slides from 11/14/2013 NISO Webinar: “New Perspectives on Assessment: How Altmetrics Measure Scholarly Impact”


Altmetrics in Action: A Live Example from eScholarship@UMMS

In 2013, UMMS' Journal of eScience Librarianship began experimenting with data from Altmetric to display article level metrics for each of our articles. The Altmetric score is a measure of the attention an article has received online, including social media mentions, news coverage, and online reference manager counts.  Here's an example of the Altmetric data for an article:


Why Altmetrics?

  • Fast
  • Allow assessment directly at the article level (rather than the journal)
  • Accommodate other products: posters, datasets, blog posts, etc.
  • Measure "hidden impact" (impact without citations)
  • Provide evidence of impact for CVs, tenure packages, & grant applications
  • Provide context and meaning for download counts
  • Provide evidence of public impact and engagement for funders & other stakeholders
  • Complementary to traditional citation-based metrics

“Altmetrics should be used in parallel with impact factors and citation counts  to add a more nuanced, qualitative side to impact.”

- A Brief Introduction to Altmetrics for Researchers

Altmetrics Tools

Below are listed some comprehensive tools.  Article level metrics are also available from an increasing number of publisher websites, such as PLOS, Frontiers, and Elsevier's Scopus product.

  • Altmetric
    Compiles article level metrics by tracking and analyzing the online activity around scholarly literature in social media sites, newspapers, government policy documents and other sources.
  • ImpactStory
    Researchers can create an "impact profile" of all their research products—from traditional ones like journal articles, to emerging products like blog posts, datasets, and software.
  • Plum Analytics
    Collects, tracks, and measures research impact for both individuals and groups.

In the News - Archives

Impact Factor and the Future of Medical Journals (The Atlantic, 10 January 2014)

Some research publications are getting away from flawed measures of influence that make it easy to game the system.

Alternative metrics now available for Cochrane Reviews (The Cochrane Library, December 7, 2013)

Altmetric scores and badges will be displayed on each Cochrane Protocol and Review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) beginning December 7, 2013.

Which academic research caught the public imagination in 2013? (, December 11, 2013)

A look back at 2013 from Altmetric with a review of the 100 papers that received the most attention online - and the conversations that happened around them.

Towards a common model of citation: some thoughts on merging altmetrics and bibliometrics (Research Trends, December 2013)

Mike Taylor stresses the need for a theoretical basis for the nascent field of alternative metrics, on which any methodological decisions need to rely.

Universities can improve academic services through wider recognition of altmetrics and alt-products (LSE Impact blog, October 15, 2013)

Carly Strasser provides an overview of why altmetrics are here to stay and how universities might begin to incorporate altmetrics into their own services. While this process might take some time, institutions can begin by encouraging their researchers to recognize the importance of all of their scholarly work (datasets, software, etc).

Research impact: Altmetrics make their mark (Nature, August 21, 2013)

Alternative measures can yield useful data on achievement — but must be used cautiously.

Rise of 'Altmetrics' Revives Questions About How to Measure Impact of Research (Chronicle of Higher Education, June 3, 2013)

New tools show who's sharing researchers' work online, but the data typically aren't considered by tenure panels.


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