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Research Guides@Tufts

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Measuring Research Impact

Learn about journal metrics, author metrics and altmetrics.

What are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, is "the study and use of scholarly impact measures based on activity in online tools and environments" (Priem, Groth, and Taraborelli 2012).  Altmetrics utilize new sources of data, based on online activity, to measure the impact of journals, authors and articles. 

Altmetrics are meant to compliment, not replace, traditional measures of impact.

Examples of altmetrics include:

  • Number of times an article has been viewed or downloaded from a journal website, or database
  • Number of times an article has been exported to a citation manager
  • Number of times an article has been emailed or shared on Facebook or Twitter
  • Mentions in the mainstream media

Altmetrics offer possible advantages over traditional citations because they:

  • Are generated rapidly
  • Capture data from a variety of sources both within and beyond the scholarly community
  • Are often gathered from open source web services, which means they can be verified

The preceding statements were adapted from Altmetrics: A Manifesto Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology, PLoS Altmetrics Collection, and Plum Analytics.

Altmetric page for article published in British Medical Journal

screenshot of Altmetric page for British Medical Journal article

Find Altmetrics

Several databases and publishers provide article-level metrics.  These metrics depend on the content that is searched.  For example, the number of citations that an article has received in Web of Science will likely be different than the number it has received in either Scopus or Google Scholar.