Altmetrics or alternative metrics are an indicator of attention and track engagement through likes and shares on social media, news websites, policy documents and academic networking sites. Altmetrics usually use the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) of an online journal article to track this attention. Altmetrics can provide more immediacy to 'buzz' or attention around research and give an indication of how it is being shared and discussed – long before traditional citations appear.

What is altmetric data?

Typically altmetric data will include information on social media sharing of research, downloads or views of a paper, public and informed opinion in the form of news items and blogs, and readership in reference management tools such as Mendeley. The type of data available and the source of the data depends on tool used.

Altmetric data can be found on a number of databases, websites and research repositories, examples include Scopus which uses Plum Analytics data, and Enlighten which uses Altmetric data. The University Library has a subscription to Altmetric Explorer.

What can I use altmetric data for?

Beyond the tracking of ‘attention’, altmetric data has a valuable role in understanding qualitative engagement and impact for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and funding applications; this is particularly true of altmetric data on high-value news items and public policy documentation.

Similarly, collaboration opportunities, both internally and externally, may become apparent from the qualitative engagement with publications. Altmetric Explorer allows for subject filtering across an institution, potentially revealing those working in related subjects, but different departments, internally and offering collaboration opportunities when the subject filter is applied to external networks.

Using Altmetric Explorer

You can view research outputs for the whole institution, or view them at school, department or author level and sort these by Altmetric Attention Score, by publication date or by source. Alternatively, you can search for a specific subject, author, journal article or other research output.

The Attention Summary panel links to detailed analysis of mentions over time by source type, highlights of attention, and an interactive world map with demographics for all tweeters, all mentions and a journal analysis tab which lets you see how journals are performing across specific sources. See the support pages for information on browsing, searching and some short video tutorials.

Altmetric and Enlighten: Publications

Altmetric data is also available in records in Enlighten: Publications with a matching DO and will show the Altmetric donut. If there is no match it will show "No Altmetrics are currently available for this publication." Further details on the Altmetric data is available from the link "View details on Altmetric's website"

Help and support

If you want help, want to arrange a training session or discuss how you might use altmetrics further, please get in touch with your College Librarian. They will be happy to work with you to get the best out of Altmetric Explorer for Institutions and other metrics and related research tools.