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Research Impact

What are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics or alternative metrics measure the attention a resource generates on the social web or other sources. is a subscription product.     

They can be applied to journal articles, books/book chapters, software, datasets, websites, videos, etc.    

Altmetrics attempt to show influence and engagement of work through blogs, reference management systems, scholarly social networks, and other platforms.They are metrics that complement traditional metrics such as citation counts to capture the impact within the scholarly community and beyond in the society.            

See below for a 3 min YouTube video  with closed captions called What are Altmetrics?            

What do Altmetrics Include?

Depending on the tool in use (Altmetric.comPLOS, Plum, ImpactStory etc.) Some of these tools require a subscription.

Altmetrics can measure different types of attention from many different sources:

  • Usage: Views, downloads (Figshare, Dryad, Slideshare).
  • Captures: Mendeley bookmarks, CiteULike bookmarks.
  • Mentions: Blog posts, news stories, policy documents, Wikipedia articles, comments, reviews.
  • Social Media: Tweets, Facebook likes, shares.
  • Citations: Scopus, Web of Science.

Altmetrics on CityLibrary Search

You can see some examples of Altmetrics data (where available) on CityLibrary Search

Conduct a search and when you have a list of results, the Altmetrics score will appear to the right hand side of some of the results. Click on this to see more information such as Twitter and Facebook mentions and the number of readers on social networking tools (eg. Mendeley).

Altmetics attention for a book shows it is mentioned by 4 tweeters, 1 Facebook page and 2 readers on Mendeley.



Altmetrics on databases

Some databases such as ScienceDirect display Altmetric data for articles and publications where available. 

As mentioned above, you can install the Altmetric bookmarklet tool on your browser and click on this while reading a journal article to see an Altmetric overview.

Altmetics for an article showing 10 Tweeters and 71 Mendeley Readers.

Altmetrics and City Research Online

Look out for the Altmetric button next to items in City Research Online This will link to data from and show you how often an article has been mentioned or shared on Twitter, Mendeley etc

Altmetric button

Read an article from City Research Online? If you have found it useful and wish to comment on it or to share it with other researchers,  you can use the share buttons next to each article.

Share buttons on City Research Online

Here is an example of an article by Thurman and Walters. The Altmetrics button shows it has an Altmetric score of 73. Clicking on the button enables you to see more detail, including who is sharing the article. Looking at the download statistics for this article, we can see that they are quite high, as researchers see the shared tweets and other mentions. So the impact of this article is good, and this extra outreach is likely to result in increased citations in other research such as peer reviewed articles as researchers have been alerted to a useful piece of research.

Screenshot showing altmetrics data for an article by Thurman and Walters


Issues with Altmetrics


  • Prone to gaming and manipulation.
  • Difficult to standardise across social platforms.
  • Social media likes are not a measure of academic quality or citability.
  • Fast pace of uptake and developments in social media.
  • Many papers not mentioned at all on social media platforms.
  • Many of the issues with citation metrics also apply to Altmetrics.
  • Data can be interesting but it is not always clear how to use it.