Plum Analytics, or PlumX, belongs to the small but increasingly influential community of altmetrics data providers (one provider is confusingly named Altmetric). The term altmetrics (alternative metrics) was first introduced in 2010 by Jason Priem. Simply put, they are alternative research metrics because they supplement traditional bibliometrics. Traditional metrics include citation counts, journal impact factor, and an author’s H-index. These are often compiled months to years after research is published. PlumX metrics provide us with immediate details on the ways people interact with individual pieces of research in the online environment, whether that research output is a scholarly article or a podcast, a policy document, dataset, video, or one of more than 60 other formats. PlumX generates metrics via access to data providers like YouTube, Twitter, SSRN, Crossref and many others. These metrics are divided into five categories: usage, captures, mentions, citations, and social media.
Usage helps us understand if users are downloading or reading the work. Touro Scholar reports download counts, or how many times people click download, for instance. When users land on a page or click a link to a page from a variety of sources, these also get counted as it’s likely the user is reading the abstract or at least is interested in the work itself.
Captures can be leading indicators of citations, because if someone is saving the work via a citation manager or bookmark manager, they probably are going to use that work as a reference later on in their own work.
This is one of the most traditional bibliometrics, how many times a work is cited by another work. PlumX gathers this metric from at least 15 citation metrics sources, including Dynamed Plus Topics, Scopus, Crossref, and PubMed. It’s important to remember that this metric says little about how the work is cited by another work (take a look at scite.ai to see an emerging example of citation analysis with machine learning). Still citation counts are fundamental to bibliometrics, and indexes of citations in law, medicine, and other fields are centuries old.
Mentions are meant to measure conversation around works, via blogs, comments, video streaming sites, and references in Wikipedia.
Social media includes sharing on Twitter and Facebook. It also includes Reddit upvotes, ratings on Amazon and likes on YouTube. For academic journal articles, Twitter is a popular platform to share new research. Share with a link to the research (DOI or publisher’s page URL) so that the post is picked up in metrics counts.
Why is this important?
Have you ever wondered how others are accessing or reading any of your academic artifacts? With these altmetrics you will be able to more immediately measure awareness and interest towards your academic work. In a competitive research landscape, PlumX offers metrics to support your research impact footprint, to give you new ways to uncover and tell the stories of your research.
Increasingly, researchers, funders, and universities are using these data to understand and tell fuller stories about their scientific impact and investments.
As a researcher and author, PlumX metrics can help you showcase the impact of your work to others both inside your institution (colleagues, deans, etc.) and outside (grant funders). Altmetrics can help in assessing an academic unit’s research impact and increase its visibility. As a program director, dean of a school, or research support staff member you can track research and demonstrate:
- ROI of research money
- rising stars among early career researchers
- a more compelling narrative about research
- where research is a good potential investment
- the strengths of research at the institution
Instead of a static list of publications, the PlumX metrics provide a live update of interaction with publications. Researchers are already using altmetrics to bolster their funding proposals in tools like the National Institutes for Health’s Biosketch.
How can I access altmetrics about my research?
Touro College & University System Libraries has recently integrated PlumX altmetrics into Touro Scholar, our institutional repository. After you have created an account, click on “Author’s Dashboard” and then on the sidebar, click on the PlumX logo. That’s where you can find PlumX metrics aggregated for all items in the repository authored by you. For your research articles on publisher’s webpages, you can often find altmetrics on sidebars, whether from PlumX, Altmetric, or the publisher’s own data.
Please contact us if you need any help with PlumX, altmetrics, bibliometrics or Touro Scholar:
We just want to remind you that altmetrics do not replace traditional bibliometrics. Instead, they complement them and show some insights that were previously unmeasured. Like most metrics, there are both legitimate and unscrupulous methods of “boosting” numbers. Researchers should be aware of the ethics surrounding research and authorship by consulting the TCUS academic integrity policy, the norms of their relevant field, and the recommendations of publishers and working groups like the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and others.
This post was contributed by Tim Valente, Scholarly Communications Librarian, and Sara Tabaei, Library Information Literacy Director