Altmetrics for Research
Iara Vidal Pereira de Souza (@iaravps)
PhD Student, non-practicing Librarian
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
What are altmetrics?
What do they mean for research evaluation?
What are the relationships between altmetrics
What are altmetrics?
A field: “The creation and study of new metrics based
on the Social Web for analyzing and informing
scholarship” (from altmetrics.org/about/)
A measure: “a social web indicator of an aspect of
the value of academic articles” (from M. Thelwall & N.
Maflahi, 2015, doi:10.1002/asi.23252)
Altmetrics: a manifesto / J. Priem, D.
Taraborelli, P. Groth, C. Neylon (2010)
Scholarship’s main filters for importance – peer
review, citation counts, journal impact factor – are
Social Web allows us to follow uses that are invisible
to traditional metrics
Paper collections go from drawers to online reference
managers, like Mendeley/Zotero;
Conversations and debates now also happen on Twitter,
What they all have in common: output-level metrics from lots of
different sources – including traditional ones (citations) and others
not related to social media (media outlets, grey literature)
Altmetrics and Research Evaluation: Promise
Go beyond citations and track other impact “flavors”
Go beyond academia and track impact over different
Go beyond the article and track multiple sources
Altmetrics and Research Evaluation: Reality
Some funding agencies are already using altmetrics to
support their strategies
Wellcome Trust (UK) is one of them (see A. Dinsmore, L.
Allen, K. Dolby, 2014, doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002003)
Lack of identifiers makes it hard to get impact data, so many
studies still focus on altmetrics as a way to predict journal
But progress is coming: see Depsy, a tool for tracking
research software impact from the makers of ImpactStory
But what about openness?
Altmetrics can help open outputs shine (R. Mounce,
This can be true not only for OA articles and
repositories, but also for open data and OER
The Open Access citation advantage is also observed
with alternative metrics – open wins again!
Altmetrics are open! ... Aren’t they?
According to the manifesto, yes: “They’re open – not
just the data, but the scripts and algorithms that
collect and interpret it.”
But many sources for altmetric data are closed. Some
have APIs (Twitter, Mendeley, Facebook…); others
don’t even have that (Google Scholar, anyone?)
So why do I care about altmetrics...
Focus on the alt: not just alternative metrics,
outputs, audiences, but also:
Alternative scholars (J.P. Alperin, 2013,
doi:10.1002/bult.2013.1720390407): shine a light on
research from the periphery
And an alternative way to do research evaluation!
Altmetrics are DIVERSE. It is not a single thing with
a single meaning. And impact is diverse too. It can
have lots of different flavors.
... And why I think you should care too!
More important than altmetrics themselves is
the approach to research evaluation implicit in
Granularity: judge works by their own merits,
not by where they were published.
Variety: not one metric to rule them all, but a
fellowship of metrics!
Want to know more?
Search for #altmetrics on Twitter
Follow projects that try to create standards
Altmetrics Initiative, lead by the US National Information
Standards Organization – NISO
CrossRef’s DOI Event Tracker Pilot
Take a look at the PLOS Altmetrics Collection