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Alternative Metrics

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

Tips for incorporating altmetrics:

How to: Write impact statements with Altmetric data

  • Have you ever wondered how to use altmetrics to enhance a CV, grant application, presentation, or report? This blog post will give you some ideas and examples of how you can communicate the attention your work is receiving online including how to write about your research impact in a narrative format.

An increasing number of researchers are using altmetrics to help document the varied impacts of their work in their CVs, tenure and promotion dossiers, and grant or job applications. 

When using altmetrics to document your scholarly influence, keep in mind that context is very important for making the numbers you list meaningful. Provide contextual information like percentiles and maps that communicate to your reader how your paper or other scholarly output has performed.

TIP: Rather than include raw counts of your article's metrics, it is more effective to provide contextual information that communicates to your reader how scholarly output has performed relative to others' papers/outputs.


Adapted from: Northwestern University. (2022). Metrics & Impact Core.

On your CV or resume, consider using altmetrics data to illustrate or augment your research impact.

For example:

  • Author, A. (2015). "Title." Journal name. doi:10.000/10.100x

Citations: 4 - listed in the 98th percentile of Biology research published in 2015 on [altmetric data source]. 
Other impact metrics: listed on [altmetric data source] as being in the 96th percentile of papers published in [Journal name] and the 87th percentile of papers published in 2015. 
International impact: according to [altmetric data source], this paper has been mentioned, bookmarked, or viewed in at least 43 countries

  • Author, A. (2015). "Title." Journal name. doi:10.000/10.100x

Paper covered by more than 100 media outlets worldwide, including The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. Recommended on 12 research blogs, putting it in the 99th percentile of Biology publications published in 2015. Was described as "a breakthrough study on examples" by prominent genetics and evolution researcher Rosie Redfield.

Always provide meaningful context for your altmetrics  data!  Avoid relying solely on raw counts of your output's metrics. A lack of meaningful context is evident in this example:

  • Author, A. (2015). "Title." Journal name. doi:10.000/10.100x

Citations: 4 / Twitter mentions: 21 / Mendeley bookmarks: 91 / Blog mentions: 12

If it makes sense to include altmetrics data in your advancement package, such as a tenure & promotion file, consider selecting metrics that showcase the types of impact you are looking to document.

For example:

  • If you wish to document the scholarly impact of your work, you could include the number of citations you have received, how often your work is bookmarked on Mendeley and by what demographics, etc.
     
  • If you wish to document your public outreach & engagement work, you could include how often your work has been mentioned in news media / Facebook / Twitter or the number of page view statistics for your lab's blog.

Funding agencies are increasingly asking researchers to document the "broader impacts" of their work. Altmetrics are a good way to do that, because they can help you find and explain how your research is being used by other scholars and the public.

Grant Reporting Example: Dr. Holly Bik, UC Riverside

Holly was awarded a major grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to develop a bioinformatics data visualization tool called Phinch.

When reporting back to Sloan on the success of her project, she included metrics like the Figshare views that related posters and talks received, Github statistics for the Phinch software, and other altmetrics related to the varied outputs that the project created over the last few years.

Holly’s hopeful that these metrics, in addition to the traditional metrics she’s reported to Sloan, will make a great case for renewal funding, so they can continue their work on Phinch.

Altmetrics case studies

Discover how altmetrics have assisted scholars, institutions, and on grant applications by clicking the hyperlinked images and reading the testimonials below.

                 

 1.)  Scholars                                  2.  Institutions                             3.  Grant applications

 

1.) Scholars
“Altmetrics are very useful for making sure early career researchers get recognised for their contribution to their field.”
- Terrie Moffitt, Duke University

 

2.) Institutions

“The Explorer can also be used to identify patterns and key sources of attention to help researchers form more effective strategies for future engagement.”
- Scott Taylor, University of Manchester

 

3.) Grant applications

 “The advantage of Altmetric is being able to put a number on the online attention and impact. It’s one thing for me to say in a grant application “this paper received a lot of attention”, it’s another thing to say it had an Altmetric Attention Score of 1,341 which places in the 99th percentile of similar papers. That’s much more impactful.”
- Patrick Sullivan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 


 Altmetrics in higher education institutions: Three case studies 

Natalia Madjarevic, Fran Davies, Altmetrics in higher education institutions: Three case studies, The Winnower 9:e145768.82305 (2016). DOI: 10.15200/winn.145768.82305

This is an exploratory study that seeks to find out more about the general awareness, application and potential for using altmetrics across a range of university departments. 

This paper presents three case studies describing the use of altmetrics across three research-intensive higher education institutions in the UK and USA. We conduct interviews to learn more about how altmetrics are applied by various teams in a university, with a particular focus on the use of tools built by Altmetric Explorer, including the Altmetric Explorer for Institutions platform.

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