Networking and altmetrics

Traditional metrics has focused on the impact of research within academia. However, research impact is much more than that. When measuring societal impact, the focus is on the contribution research makes to society. So, research impact can be defined as the contribution that research makes to the society, economy, environment or culture. New metrics can include altmetrics, but also e.g. data citation and patent metrics. Read through What types of impact are there? to better understand what kinds of research impact exist.

Peer-reviewed journals and conferences have traditionally been the focus of researchers’ efforts to make their research visible. However, as social media has become more prevalent, the way academics disseminate their research is changing. Academics are increasingly using social media and are expected to have a professional online presence.

In the last decade there has been an emergence of Academic Social Networking Sites (ASNSs). Each site offers its own combination of tools and capabilities to support research activities, communication, collaboration, and networking. However, due to their variety, it might be challenging for academics to evaluate and use them. Also maintaining multiple profiles might be time-consuming. Thus, during this course, we hope you can find a social network site / sites suitable for your needs.

Traditional measurements of academic success, such as citation counts, journal impact factor or author h-index (i.e. bibliometric indicators), might no longer be sufficient to estimate research impact, and the social importance of authors is becoming increasingly significant. Altmetrics (i.e. alternative metrics) measures a publication’s online visibility by the numbers of, for instance, clicks, downloads, blog posts, bookmarks, likes and tweets. Since most research, including journal articles, are now electronic and networked we can track how many times they are accessed, used, and shared. Altmetrics are meant to compliment, not totally replace, the traditional measures to give a more complete picture of how research and scholarship is used.

Altmetrics can answer questions such as:

  • How many times was my article downloaded?
  • Who is reading my work?
  • Was it covered by any news agencies?
  • Are other researchers commenting on it?
  • How many times was it shared or liked? (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Altmetrics data accumulate at a faster speed compared to traditional metrics. In disciplines where citations grow slowly, or in the context of new researchers, this speed helps determine which outputs are gaining online attention. Although altmetrics are often thought of as metrics about articles, they can be applied to people, journals, books, data sets, presentations, videos, source code repositories, web pages, etc. Altmetrics generally offer a faster and wider-ranging measures of how people are discussing and using your work.

Altmetrics can point researchers to interesting and more valuable research that has received most attention from other researchers and from the general public. Also, altmetrics can inform funders, policymakers and other stakeholders of the wider impact of research and give a more nuanced understanding of the impact research has made.

Read more about almetrics and see the strengths and weaknesses of it.

Search an article of your research area, which has received attention in social media. Use databases such as Scopus and Ebsco (e.g. CINAHL, SocINDEX) for searching. What kind of media attention the article has received? Has the article received some other kind of attention (e.g. citations, views)?

See also Networking and visibility services for researchers

Further information:

Video (32:36): Researcher visibility (UEF Library).

Video (1:11:34): Practical uses of altmetrics: A library journal webinar.

Davies, S. & Horst, M. 2016. Science communication: culture, identity and citizenship. London, Palgrave Macmillan.

Espinoza Vasquez, F. K. & Caicedo Bastidas, C. E. 2015. Academic Social Networking Sites: A Comparative Analysis of Their Services and Tools. IDEALS, iConference 2015 Proceedings.

Goldstein, S. 2019. Academic Social Networking Sites are Smaller, Denser Networks Conducive to Formal Identity Management, Whereas Academic Twitter is Larger, More Diffuse, and Affords More Space for Novel Connections. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 15(1).

PLOS Altmetrics Curated Collection

(8/2021 KH; 6/2023 TO)