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Measuring Scholarly Research Impact: Altmetrics

What are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics provide an alternative for measuring impact at the article or item level. The Altmetric score, displayed in a colorful donut badge, tracks the sharing and dissemination of scholarship in real time over various channels. 

  • Number of shares on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+)
  • Number of saves on social bookmarking sites and research managers (Mendeley, CiteULike, Slideshare)
  • Number of downloads or views
  • Number of blogs, news sites, and other commentary


Konkiel, S. (2013). Altmetrics: A 21st-century solution to determining research quality. Online Searcher, 37(4). Retrieved from

Pros and Cons of Altmetrics


  • Quicker way of providing statistics than traditional bibliometrics
  • Includes usage and sharing among the general public as well as scholars
  • Demonstrates popularity of research in a particular field


  • Tends to favor more recent research
  • Open to manipulation and gaming of statistics
  • Popularity doesn't necessarily correlate with scholarly quality--for example, a article getting a lot of Tweets and traction on social media may contain inaccurate science

Getting a Complete Picture: Measuring Your Impact

In order to get the most complete picture of your scholarly impact, several forms of metrics--both traditional and alternative--should be considered.


  • Take a closer look at your article's Altmetric score. 
    • Click on the Altmetric badge to get more details on who is Tweeting, blogging about, and sharing your work. 
    • Who are the individuals? Are they scholars, researchers, organizations, or the general public? 
  • Put your Altmetric raw score into context by highlighting meaningful figures, rather than a "numbers dump."
    • For example: "[Your article title] was tweeted 100 times, shared on 3 blogs, cited 6 times, and saved 22 times to Mendeley and other research managers" 
  • ImpactStory is a free tool that provides a comprehensive view of a scholar's impact, combining journal article metrics with non-traditional forms of scholarship such as datasets and software. Free to use with an ORCID.
    • Differentiates between scholarly impact and public impact
    • In addition to tracking Altmetrics, ImpactStory also measures metrics from CrossRef, PLoS, PubMed, Scopus, and Figshare. 
  • Metrics Toolkit
    • This website defines different metrics and has search functionality to help you identify the best metric(s) for your purpose

Altmetric Donut

The colorful Altmetric donut helps you visualize where your article is getting shared, on what channels. 

Image retrieved from:

Getting Started with Altmetric Badges