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Syracuse University Libraries

Research Metrics

Helping the researcher to navigate metrics

Introduction: Altmetrics

“Altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship.” -

Altmetrics (alternative metrics) are measures of the impact of a scholarly research product based on online activity, using information beyond scholarly citations alone. They are designed to capture research impact more quickly and to recognize more types of impact. The Altmetrics Manifesto describes the purpose of Altmetrics in detail.

Altmetrics can include data on a wide range of online activities. For example, some frequently tracked Altmetrics include the number of views or downloads an article receives, mentions in social media, bookmarks in Mendeley or Zotero, and citations in Wikipedia articles and news reports.

There is no single tool, institution, or company that "owns" Altmetrics. Different tools include different measures and different approaches to interpreting them.

As with other metrics, the Altmetric score does not necessarily tell you anything about the quality of the individual publication. It is always best to review the publication yourself and investigate mentions as need be.

Many scholarly publishers integrate data into their journals' websites. The information is displayed as a multicolored badge or "donut."

While most products are intended for publishers or institutions and require a subscription, the Bookmarklet is free for individuals. Install it in Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to view the Altmetric information on any article on a compatible website.

Note: is not affiliated with No single site, including either of those, is the "official" or "proprietary" source for Altmetrics.

Source: Altmetric. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2019, from

Why Altmetrics Matter

"There is increasing understanding that scholarly research has moved beyond the printed page and that traditional measures of impact are inadequate. Citations are only a small part of the scholarly ecosystem and only represent one type of impact. Other media types of increasing importance such as data, tools, software, websites, videos, etc. produced for or during the research process may be just as, or more, important than the articles that accompany them.

Since most research, including journal articles, are now electronic and networked we can track how many times they are accessed, used, and shared. These numbers provide a more complete picture of the reach and impact of research and scholarship; one that goes beyond citations in peer-reviewed publications."

Source: Altmetrics: What are Altmetrics? (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2019, from

How Altmetrics Work

You probably already know that nearly everything on the internet is tracked. What you click can be used to inform website design, serve targeted adds, or as a simple measure of popularity. Altmetrics uses this ability to track interaction with online items as a way of measuring research impact and reach.

Altmetrics can answer questions such as:

How many times was it downloaded?

Who is reading my work (on Mendeley, bookmarking sites, etc.)?

Was it covered by any news agencies?

Are other researchers commenting on it?

How many times was it shared (on [social media], blog posts, etc.)?

Which countries are looking at my research?

Source: Altmetrics: A manifesto – (n.d.). Retrieved May 5, 2018, from