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Alternative metrics of impact or altmetrics are a new way to measure and track the social impact of research in real time. Altmetrics track research uptake via social media, citation counting, mentions or bookmarks, attention to high profile blogs, and even Wikipedia references.

Altmetrics allows us to expand our view of what's making the impact and what it looks like in a scholarly environment that is becoming more diverse. Articles are increasingly joined by:

  • The sharing of “raw science” like datasets, code, and experimental designs
  • Semantic publishing or “nanopublication,” where the citable unit is an argument or passage rather than entire article
  • Widespread self-publishing via blogging, microblogging, and comments or annotations on existing work

The diversity of altmetrics will be essential to sift these new forms, since they're outside the scope of traditional filters and help us measure the aggregate impact of the research enterprise itself.

How can altmetrics improve existing metrics?

  • The ability to crowdsource peer-review
  • In the future, greater participation and better systems for identifying expert contributors may allow peer review to be performed entirely from altmetrics
  • Altmetrics can reflect not just the venue but the the impact of the article itself, unlike the journal impact factor
  • Utilizing statistical power of big data combined with altmetric's diversity, one can algorithmically identify and correct for fraudulent activity
  • Since altmetrics are fast, this renders the opportunity to produce real-time recommendation and collaborative filtering system
  • Advantages and limitations

    Advantages to leverage altmetrics for individual and group assessments. Limitations and the potential for gaming the system with altmetrics.

  • Altmetrics and open access

    There is an interesting relationship between altmetrics and open access. One could even refer to altmetrics as open metrics, since altmetrics data use open sources. Altmetrics in turn provide APIs for embedding altmetrics into institutional repositories or third-party systems. Open access research outputs that are themselves promoted via social web applications enjoy higher visibility and accessibility than those published within the commercial scholarly communication model, increasing the prospect of public consumption and engagement.

  • Tools

    Classes of platforms and tools that provide data for altmetrics applications

  • Types of altmetrics

    • Shares
    • Saves
    • Reviews
    • Adaptations
    • Social usage stats
  • Who are altmetrics for?

    • Publishers: Showcase research impact to your authors and readers in a beautiful new way. Monitor, search and measure all of the conversations about your journal’s articles, as well as those published by your competitors.
    • Librarians and repository managers: Add value to your libraries and institutional repositories. Track article level metrics for your institution's research outputs, and show faculty, staff and students a richer picture of their on research impact.
    • Researchers: Complement your reading by instantly visualizing a paper's online attention. Discover new scholarly articles in hundreds of disciplines while monitoring your personal research in academia and beyond.


  • Andi Ogier
  • Assistant Director, Data Curation
  • 540-231-9255
  • alop@vt.edu
  • 5094 Newman Library (0434)
    560 Drillfield Drive
    Blacksburg, VA 24060

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