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Research Guides

Research Impact & Researcher Identity


Many scholars believe traditional metrics do not give the whole picture of research impact, especially in fields outside the sciences. 

Altmetrics use a range of measurements to show research impact. They measure both impact on a field or discipline and impact on society. Metrics include: 

  • Digital use and sharing 
  • Download counts 
  • Social media indicators (Tweets or Facebook likes)
  • Blog posts
  • Wikipedia citations 
  • Public engagement

Altmetrics can be useful for early-career researchers or new publications that need time to gain citation counts. They also account for other types of publications, such as scholarly blogs, tweets, nanopublications, datasets, and other forms of self publishing. 

Altmetrics should be used in combination with traditional metrics to establish a holistic view of research impact. 


The benefits of altmetrics

Generally, altmetrics are: 

  • Available immediately. For example, an article's download or tweet counts
  • Diverse in methods. Altmetrics are constantly evolving and new tools are created everyday
  • Not just citations. Altmetrics consider the opinions of authors and readers by tracking download counts
  • Timeline. Altmetrics cover both immediacy and long-term impact

Tools for measuring altmetrics

Three of the top altmetric programs are:


  • Altmetric visualizes an article or dataset's research impact by tracking its mentions on social media, news outlets, and bookmarking services. 
    • You can also use Altmetric for Researchers to track who is discussing your research online and therefore demonstrate the influence of your work 

Impactstory Profiles

  • ImpactStory uses traditional and altmetrics to demonstrate research impact. The different measurements are organized into an author profile for easy access.
    • Join free with Twitter and track your research's online impact through tweets, blog posts, news mentions and more

Plum Analytics

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

Visit the Public Library of Science's Altmetrics Collection for more information on altmetrics tools.