We are taking part in two sessions this week on the topic of altmetrics, “the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship”. See the altmetrics manifesto for the original explanation and justification; the Wikipedia article has further background. Reasons why altmetrics are worthy of a researcher’s attention and time:
- Discover who may be talking about your research online
- Discover what is being said about similar research in your field (with a view to interesting them in your own research or evaluating its impact)
- Compiling evidence of research / impact either on a personal or a project level. Altmetrics are a measure of attention (not quality), which could also be said of traditional citation counts, so should be contextualized where possible.
Swansea University had three papers in the Altmetrics Top 100 Articles for 2015 (see the news story “Swansea University scores hat trick in top 100 articles “).
Where to view altmetrics
Altmetric.com is the major supplier of altmetric data with their distinctive colourful bagel graphic which is found embedded in many other sites too. This web page gives an overview of what the bagel is and what it’s counting.
- The Altmetric bookmarklet can be installed on your browser and used to show altmetrics for an article. See their video for an overview.
- Many journal sites now include altmetrics e.g. Nature, Frontiers in Psychology
- PLOS have their own set of metrics which they explain on this webpage. This article on social media metrics is an example.
- The Scopus database has its own metrics: see this example on an article about MMR & autism. The metrics are on the right hand side, click “View all metrics” to explore alongside traditional citation metrics. This blog post gives more information on the Scopus metrics.
- Paid for options include Plum Analytics and ImpactStory
No altmetrics available? This FAQ related to the Altmetric donut gives some reasons why this may be so: they didn’t start collecting activity until 2011, not all journals are supported and not all articles have a recognizable identifier (or DOI).
Books and book chapters are also not currently well supported for altmetrics although there are developments in this area such as the Springer “Bookmetrix” portal.
Can your boost your own altmetrics?
Altmetrics register online activity. No researcher would want to be accused of “gaming” their metrics yet all researchers are encouraged to maximize their impact and to promote their research themselves as much as possible.
Researchers with an existing active online network and understanding of the world of social media will inevitably be at an advantage here. However there are also others who may be on social media already who can help: the publisher, the institution and/or research office, collaborators or community / commercial partnerships.
There is much on the web about maximizing research impact using social media. Here are some examples, including several from the LSE Impact blog which publishes frequently and reliably on this topic:
- 3 Ways Researchers Can Boost Their Social Media Savvy: a simple overview with good, basic advice
- Top ten tips for getting your research the attention it deserves from the LSE Impact blog by Danielle Padula and Catherine Williams
- Planning your online engagement strategy? Don’t go it alone. Well-chosen partnerships can maximise reach and impact. Also from the LSE Impact blog by Heather Doran, this gives example of strategic public engagement on Twitter by research projects.
- Academics should express an “editorial mission” in order to create consistent media content by Kevin Anselmo on taking a strategic approach to planning social media engagement
- Policy impact and online attention: Tracking the path from research to public policy on the social web. by Stacy Konkiel (a key author and supporter of altmetrics) looks specifically at how to track and evidence impact on policy
- Fast Track Impact has some free resources including a “Social media strategy template”
As mentioned above, using altmetrics to check out who has been talking about similar papers and including them in your network can be a useful strategy.
Comments and useful resources for exploring altmetrics are welcome!