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Bibliometrics & Responsible Research Evaluation: Altmetrics

Learn how to track citations to your research and the limitations of using bibliometric indicators

What are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics are measures that capture the attention a resource generates on the social web or other sources.

They can be applied to journal articles, books/book chapters, software, datasets, websites, videos, etc.

Altmetrics attempt to show influence and engagement of work through blogs, reference management systems, scholarly social networks, and other platforms.

They are metrics that complement traditional metrics such as citation counts to capture the impact within the scholarly community and beyond.

Why Use Altmetrics?

Speed: Altmetrics can accumulate more quickly than traditional metrics such as citations.

Range: Altmetrics can be gathered for many types of research output, not just scholarly articles, and help to provide a more holistic picture of impact using broader indicators to complement citations.

Non-academic: Altmetrics can show the attention and engagement outside the academic world, where people may use but not cite research e.g. practitioner or societal impact

Caveats & Limitations:

  • Standards remain at an early and ongoing state of development
  • Like other metrics, they can be open to manipulation and gaming
  • Popularity (attention) does not always equal quality of research
  • Data sources come and go so may be difficult to track over time in a meaningful way (e.g. MySpace, Connotea)

What Data Sources do Altmetrics Track?

Depending on the tool (, PlumX, ImpactStory etc.) altmetrics can measure different types of attention from many different sources:

Usage: Views, downloads

Mentions: News stories, book reviews, policy documents, blog posts, Wikipedia articles, comments

Captures: Mendeley bookmarks, CiteULike bookmarks

Social Media: Tweets, Facebook shares, YouTube

Citations: Scopus, Web of Science

Altmetric Providers and Tools



PlumX Metrics, provided by Elsevier, capture the ways people interact with individual pieces of research output (articles, conference proceedings, book chapters, and many more) in the online environment. 

"Plum Prints" displaying article usage, mentions, citations and shares are available to access through the Scopus database for items indexed in Scopus.

You can also add a specific doi to the end of this URL to display a selection of Plum metrics:

Impact Story