The term “altmetrics” was coined in 2010 by Jason Priem, co-founder of ImpactStory and refers to a range of measures of research impact that go beyond citations. In a recent article in Nature, Priem lays out a bold vision of the future:
“The article was an attempt to freeze and mount some part of the scholarly process for display. The Web opens the workshop windows to disseminate scholarship as it happens, erasing the artificial distinction between process and product. Over the next ten years, the view through these open windows will inform powerful, online filters; these will distil communities’ impact judgements algorithmically, replacing the peer-review and journal systems.”
A more recent article in Nature by Roberta Kwok looks at some of the altmetric tools which are available but also explores some of the objections which would need to be overcome for altmetrics to become credible and reliable.
However, it is worth noting that the publisher Elsevier (who produce the Scopus database) recently acquired the Mendeley reference management/social network service, and have started to include altmetrics in Scopus results: tweets, blogs, saves in Mendeley or CiteULike, mentions on BBC News web site, etc. In addition, article level metrics are now available on twenty journals on nature.com: citation data, page views, news mentions, blog posts and social shares including Facebook and Twitter.
Jason Priem. “Scholarship: Beyond the paper.” Nature 495, 437–440 (28 March 2013) doi:10.1038/495437a
Roberta Kwok. “Research impact: Altmetrics make their mark.” Nature 500, 491-493 (2013) doi:10.1038/nj7463-491a