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The Rise of Alternative Metrics (Altmetrics) for Research...


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Article Released Mon-3rd-April-2017 04:39 GMT

Contact: University of Malaya
Institution: University of Malaya

 The Rise of Alternative Metrics (Altmetrics) for Research Impact Measurement

Altmetrics are new metrics
proposed as alternatives to impact factor for journals as well as
individual citation indexes (h-index). Altmetrics uses online activities
to measure the impact, buzz and word of mouth for scientific
information. It includes new methods to measure the usage at citation

Figure 1
Alternative metrics which are available online.
"Alternative Metrics" is formulated based on the idea that the web is
not just mere usage by academics, but may serve to provide evidence for
the wider research impacts. The term "article level metrics" was first
put forward in 2010, but Altmetrics (derived from "alternative metrics")
become prevalent as it better suggested a range of new metrics. These
metrics are usually based on data from the social web. Some of the most
promising alternative metrics tools are,,, Usage Count and PLoS Article-Level Metrics.

Altmetrics can be applied not only to articles, but also to people,
journals, books, data sets, web pages, etc. The impact of a work does
not depends on citation counts alone, but other aspects of the work as
well, such as, article views, downloads, mentions in social media and
news services. However, the Altmetrics scores by do not
imply the quality of the paper, the researchers nor the whole research
impact story.

Researchers are able to understand the type of attention received by
reading the mentions for a research outputs, whether the attention is
positive or negative, or if the paper has gained traction in a
particular country.

A comparison between the traditional and new systems for measuring research impact:

Traditional bibliometrics

• Journal Impact Factor

• Citation counts

• H-index

• Number of publications

Alternative metrics “Altmetrics”

• Mentions in news reports

• References in policy

• Mentions in social media Wikipedia citations

• Reference manager readers etc.

Why Altmetrics?

Altmetrics is calculated through real-time basis. As compared to the
traditional citation counts, Altmetrics receive immediate feedback on
attention for a scholarly content. This is particularly useful for early
career researchers whose work may yet to have accrued citations. As
altmetrics track attention to a broad range of research outputs, which
includes articles, posters, data sets and working papers, etc., it
provides a more coherent understanding of research attention, thus
helping researchers to get credit for impact activities as well as to
understand the broader reach in this digital era and early impact of
research attention. Public and private funders sometimes require for
evidences or impacts “on society”, whereby Altmetrics is best suited to
present this picture of impact. Lastly, Altmetrics showcase attention to
a research output beyond academia, and researchers might be able to
uncover unknown conversations about their research, and perhaps plan
about the future directions.

How is the Altmetric score calculated?

The score is derived from an automated algorithm, and represents a
weighted count of the amount of attention Altmetric have picked up for a
research output. It is weighted to reflect the relative reach of each
type of source (Table 2). For an example, the average newspaper story is
more likely to bring attention to the research output than the average

Type of source and the weighted count of attention received

News - 8

Blogs - 5

Twitter - 1

Facebook - 0.25

Sina Weibo - 1

Wikipedia - 3

Policy Documents (per source) - 3

Q&A - 0.25

F1000/Publons/Pubpeer - 1

YouTube - 0.25

Reddit/Pinterest - 0.25

LinkedIn - 0.5

Open Syllabus - 1

Google+ - 1

Finding new collaborators through Altmetrics?

Altmetrics can help in finding potential collaborators for researchers
by the detailed breakdowns of the mentions received for those who are
already discussing about the researchers’ work online, who might be
working on the topics of same interest or even those who are good at
promoting research. By clicking on the relevant tweet, blog post or
other mention type, researchers are able to see the profile of the
person who is discussing about their paper. Usually, their social media
profile will include a link to their professional website for
researchers to reach out to them.


If researchers are looking for strategies to improve their research
impacts, it is wise to consider the research visibility and availability
on the different social academics platform besides high quality journal
publications. Research publication promotion through academic social
networks/Twitter/Blogging not only improve the Altmetrics score, but
also improve the article citations. Studies found a link between
scientists' public engagement and citation rates. Altmetrics are
measures of online attention and engagement, and are meant to
complement, but not completely replace the traditional impact measures.

The contact information is as follows:

Dr. Bong Yii Bonn & Dr. Nader Ale Ebrahim

Centre for Research Services

Institute of Research Management & Services,

University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur. /

Associated links

Journal information

[1] M. Thelwall, K. Kousha, A.
Dinsmore, and K. Dolby, “Alternative metric indicators for funding
scheme evaluations,” Aslib Journal of Information Management, vol. 68,
no. 1, pp. 2-18, 2016.

[2] Swansea University. "Altmetrics," 16 May;

[3] N. Ale Ebrahim, New systems for measuring research impact,
University of Malaya, Research Support Unit, Centre for Research
Services, Institute of Research Management and Monitoring (IPPP)”,
University of Malaya, 2016.

[4] X. Liang, L. Y.-F. Su, S. K. Yeo, D. A. Scheufele, D. Brossard, M.
Xenos, P. Nealey, and E. A. Corley, “Building Buzz: (Scientists)
Communicating Science in New Media Environments,” Journalism & Mass
Communication Quarterly, September 12, 2014, 2014.

[5] N. Ale Ebrahim, H. Salehi, M. A. Embi, F. Habibi Tanha, H.
Gholizadeh, and S. M. Motahar, “Visibility and Citation Impact,”
International Education Studies, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 120-125, March 30,

Keywords associated to this article: Altmetrics, research impact measurement, research visibility, mentions, citations

The Rise of Alternative Metrics (Altmetrics) for Research...

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