Altmetrics are metrics that attempt to capture the impact of scholarly publications as reflected in non-traditional media, – social media like blogs, Twitter, and Mendeley. Traditional works of published scholarship (articles, journals, and scholarly monographs) have citation metrics such as impact factors that reflect their impact in specific, carefully defined venues – the number of times cited by other published articles, for example. Increasingly, however, published works of scholarship are causing ripples in social media, – scholarly blogs, Twitter and the like, – that can be tracked and quantified: altmetrics. Moreover, altmetrics can be applied to non-traditional works of scholarship as well as traditional, – datasets in repositories, software, or slidesets and other curricular materials.
The potential is huge and interest is growing, both as a complement to the well-established citation metrics (h-factor, impact factor) and as an exciting way to explore emerging ‘hot topics’ and fast-moving papers.
Altmetrics are still in very early stages, and many challenges remain, including resolving multiple digital addresses for online items; lack of uniform standards in citing items like software and data; and the lack of open data sources for tracking impact information – downloads and hits. Other challenges are deeply embedded in academic and scholarly culture, for example the promotion and tenure process, and an academic reward system that doesn’t always recognize or reward open sharing of research publications or data. Still, altmetrics is a concept that raises fascinating questions, and my bet is we’ll be hearing more and more about scholarship and social media, altmetrics, and sites and services like Total Impact and start-up Plum Analytics.
- “Scholars Seek Better Ways to Track Impact Online.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 29, 2012
- “Altmetrics in the Wild: Using Social Media To Explore Scholarly Impact.” Jason Priem, Heather A. Piwowar, Bradley M. Hemminger. arXiv:1203.4745v1 [cs.DL], submitted March 20, 2012.
- “Altmetrics: A Manifesto.” (http://altmetrics.org/manifesto/) (Viewed March 30, 2012)
- “Total Impact.” (http://total-impact.org/) (Viewed March 30, 2012)
- “As Scholars Undertake A Great Migration To Online Publishing, Altmetrics Stands To Provide An Academic Measurement of Twitter and Other Online Activity.” Jason Priem, LSE Blog Impact of Social Sciences, Nov. 21, 2011.