In the past months, I've mainly focussed on social media networks and scientific social networks, stressing how being active on there can help gain your work more exposure and increase its impact. Yet while it's all well and good that having your work discussed online will increase its exposure and that having your own online presence will promote this, but how do you then monitor these numbers and what do they mean? This month we'll be taking a closer look at the services that provide altmetrics numbers. What services are available and what do they provide the user?
Before we move to the altmetrics providers, let's recap. What are altmetrics again? Altmetrics are a way to measure the impact of academic output. They're certainly not a substitute for traditional bibliometrics, but serve as a supplement to them. Where traditional metrics measure impact through citations, altmetrics measure impact through attention. This means that they measure a more immediate and more diverse form of impact, for example also taking attention from non-academic sources and social media into account. If you want to learn more about altmetrics, check out the In Depth page on the topic.
So how do you find out what your altmetric score is exactly? First of all, it's important to realise that there isn't one canonical way to calculate an altmetrics score in the way there is for the Journal Impact Factor or the H-index. Each provider measures different data sources, even if there is huge overlap between their lists of sources, and weighs and ranks them differently. Thus, there is no one true way and each company provides a slightly different score.
Altmetric.com is probably the best known and most easily recognisable altmetrics provider, both because of their name and because of the fact that their company logo, the colourful donut, is one of the more iconic representations of altmetric scores. Unlike companies such as Impact Story and Plum Analytics, Altmetric.com focusses on publishers, researchers, and institutions. The products available for publishers and institutions are the ones that allow you to find the altmetric donut on article pages at journal websites or the altmetric score in our catalogue.
What Altmetric.com offers researchers is the ability to easily and freely find the altmetric scores for any of their publications, provided they have a DOI or are included in PubMed or ArXiv. They do this by way of a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser favourites bar. Once you've added the bookmarklet, when you find yourself on an article's journal page, click the bookmarklet and a window will pop up with the Altmetric donut and information on the altmetric score if it is available. You can check out more information about the bookmarklet on the Altmetric.com website.