Use this guide to find information about:
  • Overview of Research Metrics
  • Journal Impact Factor •Author Impact (h-index)
  • Researcher Profile & Alternative Metrics

 The Purpose of this Guide

This guide presents the tools that are available to measure the quantitative and qualitative impact of research; as well as how to track researcher impact. 

 Advantages of Altmetrics

A clearer understanding of impact, showing which scholarly work are read, discussed, saved and suggested, as well as cited.

  1. It offers more current data, viewing impact of it in days, instead of years.
  2. Keep track on the impact of online scholarly products like datasets, software, blog posts and videos.
  3. It shows the impacts on diverse audiences, from scholars to practitioners, clinicians, educators and the general public.

[Taken from: Altmetrics: What, Why and Where?

 What is Altmetrics?

The internet has transformed scholarly communication, including the traditional process of measuring the impact of published research. Altmetrics is the alternative metric to using only journal impact factor and personal indices (e.g. the H-index) to quantify the reach and impact of publications of individual researchers. It has its roots in the twitter #altmetrics hashtag since 2010. Altmetrics does not substitute citation counts or the H-index, but complements the article impact within the scholarly community and beyond. Citations are slow to accumulate and often overlook new forms of scholarly content through datasets, software and scholarly blogs.

Tools for Altmetrics

uploads measuring impact workshop news

Altmetric tools allow researchers to collect and share the broad impact of their research. Below are some of the more popular tools:

  • - offers a service called the Altmetric score, which is a single-number summary of the attention an article has received online.  Sources tracked include social and traditional media, comments on publications from peer-review websites, reference managers like Mendeley as well as public policy documents.
  • Impact Story - allows researchers to create an online profile that gathers usage data from the many online research-sharing platforms such as YouTube, Wikipedia, Vimeo, Slideshare, Scopus, PubMed, PLoS, Mendeley, Figshare, Dryad, Delicious, CiteULike, Twitter, blogs and Facebook. Profile data can be exported for further analysis, and users can receive alerts about new impacts.
  • Plum Analytics - offers unique metrics such as WorldCat holdings and downloads and pageviews from some publishers, institutional repositories and EBSCO databases. The service is available via a subscription. There is a free demo version available. 

Altmetrics and Open Access

There is an association between altmetrics and open access, as data comes from open sources. Altmetrics can be embedded into institutional repositories or third-party systems. Open access research outputs are promoted via social web applications and has higher visibility and accessibility than those published within subscription-based journals. This may increase the level of engagement by the public.


What is Article-Level Metrics?

Article-Level Metrics (ALMs) provides a new approach to quantify the reach and impact of individual articles. Historically, the impact of research was measured at the journal level only. If a journal had a high impact factor, by association, all the artices within the journal were viewed as impactful. As research is now disseminated electronically, individual journal articles can now be evaluated on its merit, regardless of the citation impact of the publication in which it appears. ALMs incorporate the traditional measures (e.g. times cited), as well as the new data sources (e.g. tweets) to provide an even broader view of the performance and reach of an article.

An example of ALMs used in journals publised by the Public Library of Science:

Scholarly peer networks

  •, a platform for academics to share research papers, has incorporated impact metrics, which includes profile views, document views and country based page traffic.

  • Mendeley, a reference manager, allows researchers to chart the views and downloads of their research through the portal.

  • ResearchGate, a social networking site for researchers to share their papers, find collaborators, ask and answer questions and receive stats about downloads and citations of research. Many UWC researchers already use ResearchGate. 
  • Social Science Research Network (SSRN), comprises of 20 specialised subject networks, has metrics that include citations, top papers, top authors and top institutions.
  • VIVO, an interdisciplinary network whch allows collaboration and discovery of researchers within and between institutions.  VIVO contains researchers' profiles, which includes their publications, teaching modules and affiliations. Institutions need to have a local installation of VIVO to participate in the network.
  • Research Blogging allows readers to easily find blog posts about serious peer-reviewed research, instead of just news reports and press releases. 

Publishers and information providers using ALMs

A few publishers have incorporated Article Level Metrics (ALMs) to their publishing platform to evaluate the usage and reach of individual articles, which can include Altmetrics, which is increasingly being applied in scholarly publications: 

  • BioMed Central: Each article page gives details about different data sources for that article. This includes the Altmetric score and the traditional metrics.
  • BMJ: The Altmetric score appears with each article published in BMJ Journals. Nature Publishing Group  is another publisher that has incorporated  the Altmetric score.
  • HighWire: This ePublishing platform has changed so that the impact of individual articles can be measured.
  • Public Library of Science (PLoS): Upon publication, every article published by PLoS can be evaluated at article level.
  • Elsevier: The Scopus database of this publisher has incorporated ALMs in its search results, including applying Altmetrics to the journal article. 

Further Reading

Adie, E. and Roe, W. (2013). "Altmetric: Enriching Scholarly Content with Article-Level Discussion and Metrics." Learned Publishing 26(1): 11-17.

Alperin, J. (2013). "Ask Not What Altmetrics Can Do for You, but What Altmetrics Can Do for Developing Countries."Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 39(4): 18-21.

Howard, J. (2012) "Scholars Seek Better Ways to Track Impact Online" The Chronicle of Higher Education, 5 November.

LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog, a blog that share best practice on research and keeps the research community up to date with events and new developmens in this area.

PLOS Article-Level Metrics (ALMs): measuring the impact of research

Priem, J. Piwowar, H.A. & Hemminger, Bradley M. (2012)Altmetrics in the Wild: Using Social Media to Explore Scholarly Impact  

Tananbaum, G. (2013). Article level metrics: a SPARC primer

Terras. M. (2012)  'Open access and the Twitter effect'