Traditionally, researchers have evaluated the impact of their research using citation counts, journal prestige (impact factor), and author H-index. Altmetrics provide an alternate, or supplemental, way to measure impact by measuring the online interactions with scholarship, such as downloads, social media shares, or comments. Altmetrics are meant to complement, not replace, these traditional measures. Altmetrics also trace the impact of a wide variety of scholarly outputs, including articles, datasets, source code, patents, videos, and websites.
Supporters of the altmetrics movement believe that using altmetrics will give a more complete picture of the reach and impact of research and scholarship.
"Altmetrics expand our view of what impact looks like, but also of what’s making the impact. This matters because expressions of scholarship are becoming more diverse."
Altmetrics offer a lot of information. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when using and analyzing altmetrics data.
Capture elements of societal impact
Complement traditional metrics
Offer speed and discoverability
Open access advantage
Altmetrics lack a standard definition
Altmetrics data are not normalized
Almetrics are time-dependent
Altmetrics work best with items that have a Digital Object Identifier (DOI). PlumX is one provider that can track usage of an item with only a URL, but not all providers provide the same level of tracking for items without DOIs.
You probably already know that nearly everything on the internet is tracked. What you click can be used to inform website design, serve targeted adds, or as a simple measure of popularity. Altmetrics uses this ability to track interaction with online items as a way of measuring research impact and reach.
Altmetrics can answer questions such as:
For more discussion on all of the different kinds of metrics and use cases for each, visit the Metrics Toolkit. This toolkit also allows you to see appropriate metrics for different kinds of outputs for different scholarly fields.
This page was adapted from the Altmetrics guide from the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh.