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Research Support

XJTLU Library Research Support Guide will help to locate essential information about finding citations, desseminating your research, etc.

What Are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, are untraditional metrics to measure the use and importance of scholarly articles, particularly in the sciences.

Altmetrics, or article level metrics / alternative metrics, are untraditional metrics to measure the use and importance of scholarly articles, particularly in the sciences. Proposed as an alternative to more traditional bibliometrics (citation metrics) such as impact factor and h-index, altmetrics are always thought of as metrics about articles. They can be applied to journals, books, data sets, presentations, videos, etc. and cover new electronic sources of information, including number of downloads and page views, mentions in social media and news media such as Twitter or blogs, etc.

Altmetrics are a very broad group of metrics. The following is an example of the altmetrics categories used by the Public Library of Science:

  • Usage -- such as HTML views and PDF downloads
  • Citations -- tracked by Web of Science, Scopus and others
  • Social bookmarking and dissemination activity -- saved in Medenley, CiteULike and other social bookmarks
  • Media and blog coverage -- e.g. comments in blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media
  • Discussion activity and ratings -- e.g. discussions in blogs, recommendations in F000Prime, likes in social media

Traditional Metrics vs. Altmetrics

As more and more academic literature is published every year, scholars have to rely on a few "filters" to select the most relevant and influential sources. Traditional metrics such as citation counts and Journal Impact Factor (JIF) have served as important filters in scholarly publishing. However, these filters are failing now. A new type of metrics called altmetrics are emerging.

Citation counting used to be the best way to define the importance of a scholarly work. It is useful, but it takes time for a work to be cited. Sometimes a work's first citation can take years, and an influential work may remain uncited for years. Journal Impact Factors (JIF), a filter based on a journal's average citations per article, is another traditional metrics in academic literature assessment. But JIF does not necessarily reflect the importance and influence of individual articles in a journal. Besides, in today's highly commercialised scholarly publishing environment, it is easy to manipulate journal impact and rankings. Moreover, these traditional metrics neglect a work's impact online and in social media. As more and more scholars moving to Web 2.0, online usage, discussion and distribution should be taken into account when evaluating academic literature.

Altmetrics obviously expand people's view toward the impact of articles. Altmetrics take into account various metrics including online views, likes, downloads, bookmarking, comments and others. These diverse metrics are also timely. A work may receive thousands of comments and bookmarks online in a week. It can be spread over the world rapidly and begin to receive citations shortly after publishing. 

Altmetrics are still in the experimental phases, and the reliability of the altmetric measures is still be discussed. Traditional metrics will still be used, and citations will still be an important part in the assessment of impact and significance. But undoubtedly, altmetrics are changing the evaluation of the impact of scholarly works in the new information age. 

How Altmetric Tools Can Help

The primary purpose of doing research and write a long research paper is to let people find it out and make use of it. Based in the Web 2.0 age, altmetrics enable researchers to better promote their research online and lead the race in the scholarly publishing cycle.

  • Altmetrics can help you to demonstrate the impact of your intellectual output. You will be able to find out how your researches are read, cited, liked and bookmarked online and receive updates on these statistics timely.
  • Altmetrics can help you to discover the latest scholarly articles in different disciplines and select better materials for your research.
  • Altmetric tools are like online scholarly communities where you can associate with other researchers and get known by others. They can help you to reach more readers. By virtualising the impact of your research online, more colleagues within the community will find, read and cite your papers. Your intellectual output can be further promoted online. 

Altmetric Tools was set up in 2008 and has had over 24 millions of registered users since then. Here is an example page of Dr. Yixin Zhang (Dept. of Environmental Sciences) from our university.

It is more than a platform for academics to share research or network with like-minded researchers. It also provides a set of analytics to a profile including:

  • Keywords -- the search queries that people have entered on Google and other search engines to find your work on
  • External links -- the links used to reach your profile, but these links do not include links found via search engines such as Google or Bing
  • Referring site -- the site which the visitor was viewing, prior to arriving on your page  
  • Percentiles -- A percentile ranking based on the total views across your profile and all of your papers in the last 30 days
  • Countries, document views, etc.

Besides, millions of open access articles in become valuable resources for research. And the spread of an article online is far more fast than that in the traditional scholarly publishing. is a service that tracks what people are saying about papers online on behalf of publishers, authors, libraries and institutions. It measures the broader impact of scholarly output such as articles and datasets across both traditional (e.g. journals) and new sources (e.g. social media, online citation managers, open access sites).

Researchers can install's Bookmarklet (browser tool), Altmetric API, Altmetric Badges (embeddable badges) or sign up to their Altmetric Explorer to start monitoring the metrics around their articles. 

The colorful badge is now embedded with many journals published in SpringerElsevierSage and Wiley. When you open the detailed record of an article in these databases, you may be able to see the article-level metrics and it can also help you to select better resources for your own research.

ImpactStory helps open researchers (who publish in OA sites) explore and share the diverse impacts (citations, views, downloads, bookmarks, etc.) of all their research outputs, from traditional outputs like journal articles, to emerging outputs like blog posts, slides and datasets. It brands itself as the new standard for scientific CVs. 

Researchers can upload various types of research outputs to their ImpactStory profile, including articles, databasets, posters, videos, sildes, software products, websites, etc. Through visualisation, impact of the uploaded outputs can be tracked easily. 

NOTE: ImpactStory is not free. A 30-day free trial is available, and users have to pay US$60/year for a profile. 

PLOS (Public Library of Science) is a famous Open Access publisher who devotes to accelerate progress in science and medicine and research communication. As an early adopter of Altmetrics, PLOS has embedded its own article level metrics on its website. For every article published in PLOS, impact metrics beyond traditional citation counts can be tracked. Researchers can stay up-to-date with their published work in PLOS and share the impact information with co-authors, peers, funders and other research communities. PLOS ALMs (PLOS Article Level Metrics) are also powerful tool to help researchers discover others’ work. Those metrics include:

On the detailed record page of every article in PLOS, there will be a sub-page named "Metrics". Different types of "impact indicators" will be shown.

PlumX is a subscription-based comprehensive product that helps authors to create their own profiles, track their research and look at impact metrics for their works. Plum X not tracks over 20 types of research outputs including articles, abstracts, books, videos, images, datasets, etc. The metrics in Plum X are categorised in to 5 types: Usage, Captures, Mentions, Social Media, and Citations. These metrics will reflect views, downloads, video plays, bookmarks, code forks, blog posts, comments, likes, shares, tweets and citations in citation databases.

Plum X could a value-added tool for an institutional repository (IR). It is subscription-based. Here is an example of the Plum X page for the University of Pittsburgh


Now in XJTLU DISCOVER's result page, users may see the Plum X signs under many results. It is now easier for users to identify the usage of articles and select their needed resources.



ResearchGate is one of the most famous online scholarly communities. It helps to connect researchers and make it easy for them to share and access research output, knowledge and expertise. It is like the scholarly version of LinkedIn, and has become a good place for researchers to communicate with each other, promote their own works and demonstrate their research impact. Here are what ResearchGate aims to do:

The following is an example page from Dr. Elmer Virgil Villanueva (Dept. of Public Health / Environmental Sciences) from our university.

Researchers can not only find what they need for their own research, but also track the impact of their uploaded works using the Stats in ResearchGate. 


Read More

  1. Priem, J., D. Taraborelli, P. Groth, C. Neylon (2010 October 26). Altmetrics: A manifesto.
  2. Priem, J., Piwowar, H., Hemminger, H. (2012 March 20). Altmetrics in the wild: using social media to explore scholarly impact.

  3. Haustein, S., Peters, I., Bar-Ilan, J., Priem, J., Shema, Terliesner, J. (2013 April 6). Coverage and adoption of altmetrics sources in the bibliometric community.

  4. Henning V., Gunn, W. (2012, September 6). Impact factor: Researchers should define the metrics that matter to them.

  5. PLOS Article Level Metrics.


Identifying system for scientific authors:

  • ORCID ( a unique researcher identifier and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to iT
  • ResearcherID ( a unique identifier that enables researchers to manage their publication lists, track your citations and h-index