Research Impact/Bibliometrics

This guide provides an introduction to using Web of Science, Scopus and other resources to determine journal impact, individual researcher impact, and article impact.

Library Research Guide

What are Altmetrics?

Alternative metrics, or "altmetrics," are metrics that are complementary to traditional, citation-based metrics, or bibliometrics. Both bibliometrics and altmetrics are types of research impact metrics.

Altmetrics tracks the volume and nature of online attention to research; online attention gives a snapshot of how others are engaging with a single research output, such as a scholarly journal article or a book chapter.

Two circles with text comparing bibliometrics to altmetrrics with examples
Comparison of traditional bibliometrics and altmetrics

What do Altmetrics Track?

Altmetrics data service providers track individual mentions of research outputs from a number of online sources.

Research outputs are tracked using unique identifiers, usually digital object identifiers (DOIs). Research outputs include but are not limited to articles, book chapters, books, technical reports, data sets, audio & video, and source code.

In addition, altmetrics tracks a range of online sources that mention or cite these research outputs, such as: 

  • Public policy documents
  • News media outlets, both high-profile and local outlets
  • Online reference managers, such as Mendeley
  • Social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook
  • Wikipedia

A visual representation of the different types of attention that research outputs may receive online
This infographic shows the types of attention a single research output may receive online.

Altmetrics scores are calculated based on the volume and nature of attention that research receives. For example, a mention in a high-profile news media outlet will receive more points toward the total score than a single Twitter share.