Have you ever read a really interesting article in a journal like Nature and then shared it on Facebook? Or participated in discussions of a research article on one of your favorite blogs? Retweeted the link to the latest study about whether coffee is good for you or not on Twitter? Then you may have been involved in building altmetrics for these papers!
What on earth am I talking about? Altmetrics — a shortened version of “alternative metrics” — are ways of examining the impact of research by seeing how actively that research is mentioned on social media, including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, or blogs. When you like a Facebook page’s article, or comment on, for example, Scientific American’s Anecdotes from the Archive blog, different services across the Internet can capture this engagement and analyze it.
Why is this important? Using altmetrics tools, researchers can know that their research is reaching the wider public and that people are learning about what they do. It helps ensure that their research has an impact on the world, not just on a few scholars in that field. In short, it shows that non-researchers are reading scholarly literature and discussing it all around the Web.
Want to learn more? One way is to follow some of these accounts on Twitter: @scholarlykitchn (a blog concerned with scholarly publishing), @ORCID_Org (an organization dedicated to resolving author name ambiguity in research), @altmetric, @PlumAnalytics (two of the companies that provide altmetrics), @PLOSALM (article-level metrics from PLoS, the Public Library of Science). If you don’t have Twitter, check out their websites: Scholarly Kitchen, ORCID, Altmetric, PlumAnalytics, PLoS. You can also read the Altmetrics Manifesto here, which explains these metrics in detail.
To see altmetrics in action, you can take a look at Altmetric scores on our Faculty Publications Database (search for a faculty name and the Altmetric badge will be under citations that have been mentioned somewhere on the Internet, such as with Touro College President Dr. Alan Kadish’s publications):