The need to come up with other ways to assess quality has led to the rise of Altmetrics which tries to produce article level metrics based on societal and in particular social media impact. Altmetrics make use of the many kinds of data besides citations that can tell us about the importance of articles such as usage statistics, mentions, captures, twitter feeds, media and other platforms where the research item is being discussed. However, the fact of citation is not necessarily proof of influence or approval and citation practices vary widely across disciplines. However, the ability to combine different kinds of data from multiple sources promises to give a more fine-grained picture of an article’s influence, and to make that picture available much more quickly. Because of the slow pace of academic publishing, it can take months or years before an article begins to show up in journal citations in any number. The relative speed of Altmetrics means that they can be useful guides to the current literature, and their association with open access and open source means that the data they generate can be personalized and repurposed.


What are the limitations of altmetrics?

Altmetrics are still in the experimental phase. There is not yet widespread agreement about how to choose, analyse, and combine sources of data to provide a reliable indicator of influence. Likewise, because they rely on new data sources, it is impossible to use them to make comparisons to the past. Finally, whereas traditional metrics relied on data pulled from the scholarly literature, Atmetrics draw on sources like blogs and twitter whose importance is growing but whose role in scholarly communication is still changing and subject to debate.


According to its website, the “Altmetric score is a quantative measure of the quality and quantity of attention that a scholarly article has received.” It offers scores for nearly 400,000 articles from 8,000 journals based on the number of times the article is mentioned in social media.

Impact Story (formerly Total-Impact)

ImpactStory is a web-based application that aggregates metrics from a variety of sources, including Mendeley, PLoS, Scopus, and Wikipedia, related to your research and publications.

Plum Analytics

Plum is a for-profit company that offers analytics for 20 different kinds of “artifacts,” including journal articles, book chapters, datasets, presentations and source code. It aggregates data based on a variety of sources at a variety of different levels, including artifact, author, lab, department, and journal.

Public Library of Science (PLoS)

PLoS is a nonprofit publisher of scientific and medical literature, including the open access journal PLoS ONE. They provide article-level metrics based on usage, citations, comments and ratings, social networks, and coverage in blogs and other media.

Publish or Perish

A free, downloadable program created by Anne-Wil Harzing that uses Google Scholar data to determine statistics for an author, including h-index, g-index, total publications, total citations, and average citations per publication or per year.

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