Wednesday, 14 October 2015

From bibliometrics to altmetrics


From bibliometrics to altmetrics

A changing scholarly landscape

  1. Rachel Borchardt
- Author Affiliations
  1. Robin Chin Roemer is communication librarian at American University, e-mail:, and
  2. Rachel Borchardt is science librarian at American University, e-mail:
When future Science Citation Index founder Eugene Garfield first came up with the idea of journal impact factor in 1955, it
never occurred to him “that it would one day become the subject of widespread controversy.”1
Today, techniques for measuring scholarly
impact—traditionally known as bibliometrics —are well known for
generating conflict
and concern, particularly as tenure-track scholars
reach beyond previously set boundaries of discipline, media, audience,
and format. From the development of more nuanced
academic specialties to the influence of blogs and social media,
about the scope of scholarly impact abound, even as
the pressure to measure such impact continues unabated or increases.
As faculty at universities around the world
struggle to find new ways of providing evidence of their changing
scholarly value,
many librarians have stepped forward to help negotiate
the landscape of both traditional impact metrics, such as h-index and
journal impact factor, and emerging Web-based
alternatives, sometimes called altmetrics, cybermetrics, or webometrics.
With interest in online venues for scholarly communication on the rise,
and the number of tools available for tracking online
influence growing steadily, librarians are in a key
position to take the lead in bolstering researchers’ knowledge of
trends—and concerns—in the new art and science impact

General resources

  • Google Scholar Citations.
    This free Google service allows authors to create profiles that manage,
    calculate, and track citation data such as h-index
    and i10-index (i.e., number of articles with
    at least ten citations). Using a statistical model based on author and
    metadata to identify relevant citations, the
    service offers the option of automatically adding new articles to users’
    or private profiles. Google also recently
    launched a related service, Google Scholar Metrics, that gauges the
    and influence” of articles and publications
    from 2007 to 2011, based on Google Scholar citation data. Access:

  • SCImago Journal and Country Rank.
    SCImago is a free Web site that runs on Scopus data to calculate two
    metrics: SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) and Source Normalized
    Impact per Paper (SNIP), which compare
    directly to Web of Knowledge’s Impact Factor. SJR is based on times
    cited, but also
    uses an algorithm similar to Google’s
    PageRank to calculate article influence, which it uses to create
    rankings. Using SCImago’s
    online interface, users can compare rankings
    of up to ten journals at a time, display top journals, and even display
    with influential journals in a discipline. Access:

  • Scopus. Scopus is a
    subscription database known primarily as an alternative to Web of
    Knowledge, as it offers similar article, author,
    and journal-level metrics, but uses slightly
    different algorithms to calculate them. Metrics include standard options
    as times cited and h-index, as well as
    original offerings like SJR and SNIP from SCImago. Scopus recently
    launched “Altmetric
    for Scopus,” a third party application that
    runs within the sidebar of Scopus pages to track mentions of papers
    across social
    media sites, science blogs, media outlets,
    and reference managers. Access:

  • Web of Knowledge.
    This Thomson Reuters subscription database helped usher in modern
    bibliometrics with its introduction of the h-index in 1982.
    Web of Knowledge includes Web of Science, for
    article and author queries, and Journal Citation Reports, for journal
    Its metrics include times cited, h-index,
    impact factor, Eigenfactor, and field-based journal rankings. While many
    of these
    metrics have been criticized for not fully
    representing scholarly value in certain disciplines, they are still
    the gold standard in traditional
    bibliometrics. Access:

Altmetric resources

    This free Web site is a central hub for information about the growing
    altmetrics movement, which it defines as “the creation
    and study of new metrics based on the Social
    Web for analyzing and informing scholarship.” Cofounded by prominent
    in the world of bibliometrics, such as Jason
    Priem and Heather Piwowar, altmetrics. org maintains links to new online
    for calculating impact. Other prominent
    features include an altmetrics “manifesto” that argues how altmetrics
    can improve
    existing scholarly filters. Access:

    View larger version:

  • Impact Story.
    Formerly known as Total Impact, Impact Story is a free open source tool
    designed to support URL-based publishing through
    the aggregation of online altmetrics. Users
    create collections of materials through online identifiers, such as
    Google Scholar
    Profiles, DOIs, and PubMed IDs. Impact Story
    uses more than a dozen APIs to search for metrics on these collected
    items, with
    sources ranging from popular social media to
    scholarly tools like Mendeley and PLoS. Items are subsequently assigned
    categories, such as generally/highly “saved,”
    “cited,” “recommended,” or “discussed.” This resource is most useful
    for researchers
    publishing in nontraditional venues or with
    scholarship too new to have accumulated traditional citations. Not a
    source for tracing Web impact. Access:

    View larger version:

  • PLoS Article Level Metrics.
    Public Library of Science (PLoS) has emerged as the leading open access
    journal repository, in part due to its high traditional
    impact factors. However, PLoS offers an
    alternative to traditional impact in the form of Article Level Metrics,
    which track
    the influence of individual PLoS articles,
    from times downloaded to mentions in social media and blogs. PLoS also
    tracks internal
    article metrics, including comments, notes,
    and ratings. While a valuable resource for impact, only PLoS articles
    from its metrics. Nevertheless, this resource
    represents an important new avenue for metrics, which future publishers
    likely replicate. Available for free online. Access:

  • Publish or Perish.
    Anne-Wil Harzing created Publish or Perish (PoP) to assist faculty
    looking for more diverse bibliometrics. PoP is a free,
    downloadable program that harvests data from
    Google Scholar based on author name. Users can manually remove records
    to refine
    the data, similar to what is now offered by
    Google Scholar Citations. PoP can also calculate numerous metrics,
    including alternatives
    to the h-index. However, because few people
    are familiar with non h-index calculations, it is up to users to explain
    metrics to larger audiences. Access:

  • ReaderMeter.
    ReaderMeter is a free tool that “crowdsources” impact by processing
    readership data from Mendeley. Created by Dario Taraborelli
    of the Wikimedia Foundation, it contrasts
    with traditional bibliometric tools in its focus on readership, not
    citation. The
    site functions by compiling reports based on
    authors’ names, which are subsequently processed through the Mendeley
    API. Each
    report highlights information such as an
    author’s “HR-Index,” “GR-Index,” “Total Bookmarks,” and “Top
    Publications by Readership.”
    ReaderMeter has been by criticized some in
    the altmetrics community for drawing data exclusively from Mendeley.2 However, plans exist to integrate data from multiple reference management sites, such as CiteULike. Access:

Scholarly peer networks

  • is a free online paper-sharing platform that encourages
    academics to increase their visibility and monitor research
    within and across its scholarly network. With
    nearly 2 million profiles and 1.5 million uploaded papers,
    become a popular player in the world of
    online repositories. Impact metrics for the site are similar to those
    offered by many
    blogs, and include profile views, document
    views, and country-based page traffic. In another increasing trend for
    networks, the site also offers features
    geared toward social interaction, such as user statuses and an “ask a
    question” tool.

  • Mendeley. Mendeley
    is a relatively recent startup from the same company that created It combines a citation manager with a
    scholarly social network to create a
    comprehensive research portal. Researchers with profiles can chart views
    and downloads
    of their research through the portal, join
    groups, and view popular articles within their fields. Mendeley has
    gained particular
    traction in the sciences, from which most of
    its users hail. However, with the integration of Mendeley data into more
    tools, it will likely become popular with
    other disciplines, too. Mendeley is free with for-cost storage upgrades,
    and available
    both online and as a download. Access:

  • Social Science Research Network (SSRN).
    SSRN is an online article repository, recently listed number one in the
    Web of World Repositories’ rankings for 2012. It
    encompasses three key features: an database
    of more than 400,000 abstracts, a large electronic paper collection, and
    20 specialized
    subject networks through which registered
    users can promote their work and connect to free abstracts and articles.
    praised for its ability to facilitate
    discovery of scholarship, SSRN has also been criticized for the
    strictness of its policies,
    which some see as stifling in comparison to
    emerging scholarly networks. Still, its site-specific metrics for “top
    “top authors,” and “top institutions” remain
    key to social science faculty. Access:

  • VIVO. VIVO is a
    free, downloadable semantic Web application designed to facilitate
    research collaboration both within and between
    institutions. Originally developed at
    Cornell, it invites institutions to upload data related to faculty
    profiles, which it
    crawls in order to draw meaningful
    connections between researchers. VIVO doesn’t directly support
    user-centered metrics, but
    has the potential to be a powerful tool in
    collecting university-level research metrics. To date, only a few large
    have implemented VIVO, as it requires
    significant programming knowledge and commitment. Access:

Blogs and media

  • Citation Culture.
    This two-year-old blog is the creation of Paul Wouters, director of the
    Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden
    University (LU). Authored by Wouter and a
    fellow LU professor, the blog is dedicated to discussion of academic
    impact, from
    citation analysis to the broader evaluation
    of research across universities. Recent multipart posts have touched on
    such as humanities bibliometrics and
    scholarly altmetrics. While information on the site is excellent and
    detailed, posts
    are published sparingly, at a rate of one to
    two per month. Access:

  • Jason Priem’s Web site.
    Jason Priem is a Ph.D. candidate at University of North Carolina-Chapel
    Hill’s School of Information and Library Science
    and the cofounder of Impact Story. Priem has
    emerged as one of the strongest advocates for altmetrics, and a champion
    library involvement. His interests touch on a
    variety of altmetrics topics, including the future of scientific
    the open data movement, and author’s rights.
    As the emerging altmetrics landscape continues to move forward, expect
    to be at the front. Access:

  • Scholarly Kitchen.
    Established by the Society for Scholarly Publishing, Scholarly Kitchen
    is a moderated blog that presents ideas on current
    topics of scholarly publishing and
    communication. While not strictly focused on bibliometrics, many of the
    site’s “chefs”
    boast expertise in the intersection between
    impact and publishing. The site also offers useful category filters such
    as “Metrics
    & Analytics,” which includes more than
    280 posts and counting. Access:

Bibliometrics research support

  • Elsevier Bibliometrics Research Program (EBRP).
    EBRP was designed by Elsevier as a way for bibliometrics researchers to
    gain access to large amounts of data for free. Available
    data includes publication metadata from
    Scopus, usage data, and full-text data from ScienceDirect. Researchers
    apply for the
    data, and successful applicants receive a
    dataset specifically designed for their project by Elsevier. Examples of
    projects on the site are especially useful to
    those who are interested in current altmetrics topics, such as the
    between article downloads and citations. Access:

  • OII Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources.
    This JISC-funded toolkit was developed by the Oxford Internet Institute
    to help authors, publishers, and librarians, learn
    more about measuring the impact of digital
    scholarship. The Web site is divided into three sections: case studies,
    methods, and qualitative methods. The two
    latter sections define and discuss methodological subcategories, such as
    and content analysis. Contributions to the
    toolkit are encouraged in the form of articles and comments, which can
    be submitted
    after creating a free user account. Access:

Organizations, conferences, and electronic lists

  • ACM Web Science Conference.
    The Web Science Conference is dedicated to the study of socio-technical
    relationships that shape and engage with the Web.
    An official ACM conference since 2011, Web
    Science brings together computer scientists with researchers from the
    social sciences,
    humanities, and law. Each conference has
    included a major workshop on the impact of the Web on scholarly
    this year’s “Altmetrics12” workshop, run by
    affiliates of Access:

    This electronic list covers bibliometrics and altmetrics from a LIS
    perspective. Posts are equal parts information/announcement
    and discussion of factors related to
    bibliometrics, such as open access or “gaming” metrics systems. This
    electronic list
    is a great option for those interested in
    bibliometrics culture or in networking with bibliometrics specialists.
    a searchable archive. Access:∼gwhitney/sigmetrics.html.

  • International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI).
    ISSI is a major society dedicated to the study of bibliometrics,
    particularly in the sciences. Highlighted features include
    a biannual conference, abstracts of
    bibliometric journals, and a electronic list. Librarians interested in
    detailed analyses
    of bibliometrics should look to this site for
    a wealth of information. Access:

Articles for further reading


From bibliometrics to altmetrics

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