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Advantages and limitations

Altmetrics advantages

  • Metrics can be added to a CV or used to enhance an online research platform/collaboration site.
  • Altmetrics are a useful tool to track the social impact and the uptake of specific articles.
  • The geographical breakdown and profession of your readers can show the breadth of uptake beyond a specific field or discipline.
  • Social media statistics and bookmarks can show public engagement with research and allow feedback.
  • It could identify particular collaborators who are engaging with your research.
  • It allows better understanding of the research community and how it communicates. For example, metrics include mentions by F1000 and pick up by academic blogs.
  • As well as assessing certain papers or individuals, some sites allow research groups or departments to be evaluated as a whole.
  • What it doesn't tell you is just as important as the metrics it does show; gaps should be used to improve future research dissemination strategies and achieve better social impact along with heightened research visibility.
  • Altmetrics should be used in parallel with impact factors and citation counts to add a more nuanced, qualitative side to impact.
  • Shows evidence of impact more timely, with results in days.
  • A window on the impact of web-native scholarly products like datasets, software, blog posts, videos, and more
  • Indications of impacts on diverse audiences including scholars but also practitioners, clinicians, educators, and the general public

(Adapted from ffrench-Constant, L. and Piwowar, H.)

Limitations on altmetrics

  • Altmetrics providers need to develop a way to differentiate between scholarly and sexy research.
  • No standards exist for reporting altmetrics; one imagines that a standard will need to be developed to help quickly determine whether a popular piece of scholarship is also high-quality research.
  • Altmetrics is not currently as user-friendly as the journal impact factor.
  • The ease with which altmetrics can be tallied is also its biggest weakness, as social media metrics and usage statistics are particularly vulnerable to gaming.
  • Finally, altmetrics do not apply as readily to traditional works such as books or art.

(Adapted from Konkiel, S.)


Related Links

  •     Andi Ogier
  • Andi Ogier
  • Assistant Director, Data Curation
  • 540-231-9255
  • alop@vt.edu
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