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Alternative Metrics

This guides provide an introduction and overview of alternative metrics and how to use the tool Altmetric Explorer.

alternative metrics = altmetrics


What are alternative metrics? 

Altmetrics are qualitative data that are complementary to citation-based metrics. They can be used to measure how scholarly work is shared, used, and discussed online. There are several providers of altmetric data that aim to capture the potential impact and showcase visibility of scholarly work within and outside of academia. They do this by tracking a variety of data sources such as news, blogs, social media, Wikipedia, policy papers, patents, and more.


See two examples of altmetric captures and scores for selected journal articles: (1) a Plum print from PlumX Metrics and (2) a donut from Altmetric Explorer:

Altmetric examples

Watch this 3 minute video for an overview of understanding altmetrics:


Why use altmetrics?

How can altmetrics help scholars?

  • Provide a measure for how many times scholarly work is downloaded
  • Understand who is reading scholarly output (on Mendeley, bookmarking sites, etc.)
  • Trace if scholarly work is covered by news outlets (CBC, NBC, BBC, etc.)
  • Track who is commenting on scholarly work (via social media, blogs, peer review sites, etc.)
  • Count how many times scholarly work was shared (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Understand where scholarly work is being read (in Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.)
  • Measure if scholarly work was cited in policy documents
  • Track if scholarly work is cited in patents

How can altmetrics help institutions like UVic?

  • More comprehensively measure the global impact of UVic research
  • Cover impact and productivity of all disciplines (including Arts and Humanities)
  • Support the new Research Agenda at UVic
  • Support annual reporting and analysis of scholarly outputs by UVic faculty
  • Support open access initiatives and increase scholar visibility
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