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Research Guides

Research Impact & Researcher Identity

Article Impact

Article-level metrics (ALM) measure the influence of an article by tracking how it is being used, shared, and discussed. ALM uses 

  • Traditional metrics to measure scholarly visibility and
  • Altmetrics to measure social visibility

Traditional metrics measures the number of times an article has been cited. 

Altmetrics measures how an article is being discussed in the public or social realm. Types of measurements include:

  • Downloads
  • Tweets
  • Views


ALM has its own share of limitations and like journal-based metrics may be prone to manipulation. 

The SPARC primer has more information on article-level metrics.

Tools for measuring an article's impact

Licensed tools at the University of Toronto: 

Web of Science

  • The Web of Science tracks citations across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. It is most useful for the sciences. To view an article's impact:
    1. Complete a basic search for an article 
    2. Create a Citation Report to view citation counts and Usage Count


ScienceDirect 25 Top Cited

  • ScienceDirect 25 Top Cited ranks the top cited articles by discipline and/or journal from 2004 onwards 
    • A simple search shows the most recent and the top cited articles 
    • The most downloaded articles from ScienceDirect are also tracked


Free tools:

  • Google Scholar is useful for finding citations that might not be on Web of Science or Scopus, such as books, grey literature, government and legal publications, and non-English resources.
    • Get started with Google Scholar Citations 


Altmetric specific tools: 


Altmetric's Donut

  • Altmetric tracks mentions of articles and datasets on social media, news outlets, and bookmarking services. These metrics are visualized using: an Altmetric Attention Score and colourful 'donut' 
    1. Altmetric Attention Score is a weighted score of the attention a research output has received. It is based on three main factors: Volume, Sources, Authors. The score does not measure the quality of the research, but identifies the level of online activity. 
    2. The donut visualizes where online attention is coming from. Each colour in the donut represents a different type of online output. The online mentions can be both positive and negative.

Plum Analytics

  • Plum Analytics gathers information and provides altmetric measurements for 67 different types of research outputs, including: 
    • articles
    • blogs
    • published datasets
    • interviews
    • government documents
    • and many more
  • PlumX Metrics collects altmetrics in five major categories:
    • usage
    • captures
    • mentions
    • social media
    • citations