Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Measuring Research Impact: Altmetrics

This guide provides an introduction to the various metrics used to measure research (author, article, journal) impact.

What are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, are new measures that take into account online reader behavior, network interactions with content, and social media. Altmetrics are meant to complement, not replace, traditional impact measures and are measures of online attention and engagement.

Altmetrics measure impact at the article/item level. Examples of Altmetrics include:

  • mentions on Facebook, Twitter, or online news sites
  • exports to citation management systems like Mendeley or Zotero
  • downloads (of full text articles, software, etc.)
  • comments in blogs or other online forums

Altmetrics are measures of attention, not quality!

Strengths of Altmetrics

Currency - Altmetrics can be gathered and calculated immediately, compared with traditional citations that accumulate slowly.
Diversity - Altmetrics capture data from a variety of sources, not just the traditional academic publishing setting, and thus may reflect the broader impact of research beyond the scholarly community. Additionally, altmetrics can be captured for research outputs beyond articles, like data sets, software, molecular structures, etc.

How Can I Find Altmetrics?

Many altmetrics are embedded in our databases. Look for links such as "Article Metrics" or "Metrics." For example, Scopus, EBSCOhost databases, EBSCO Discovery Service, ScienceDirect, Engineering Village display PlumX metrics.

PlumX metrics in Scopus


Sage, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, and Nature display Altmetric data. Altmetric collects relevant mentions from social media sites, newspapers, policy documents, blogs, Wikipedia, and many other sources. To help you put the data in context, Altmetric gives the output an Altmetric Attention Score indicating the level of online attention the item has received.The scoring algorithm takes various factors into account, such as the relative reach of the different sources of attention :

Altmetric Details on Sage Journals


ImpactStory collects and aggregates data from multiple sources across the web to produce a single impact report. Sources include Facebook, PLoS, SlideShare, Topsy (for tweets), Mendeley, delicious, CiteULike, Scopus, Wikipedia, and PubMed. Impactstory logo

Altmetric Bookmarklet

Install free Altmetric bookmarklet for Chrome, Firefox and Safari to view the online shares and mentions of an article with a single click. Works on PubMed, arXiv or pages containing a DOI with Google Scholar friendly citation metadata

Altmetric bookmarklet

How to Make Article-Level Metrics Work for You

1. Communicate your impact - Feature article-level metrics on your public profile pages

2. Let your funders know - The ability to demonstrate that your research generates significant interest could help secure the advantage you need in a tight, competitive funding environment.

3.Raise your career profile - Showcase the influence of your work when you apply for tenure and promotion or when you apply for positions outside academia

4. Discover Research That Matters - Article-level metrics may guide you to the most important and influential work.

5. Connect with Collaborators

Content Credit:  The Public Library of Science (PLOS)


Learn More