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Scholarly Communication @ UT: Altmetrics

A guide to learn more about scholarly communication, including open access, copyright, and grant funding resources.

What are altmetrics?

Altmetrics measure the attention research receives. They track attention to non-traditional sources, such as mentions in news reports, references in policy documents, mentions in social media, and Wikipedia citations. Altmetrics are great indicators of research impact and can help you understand how your research is being receive and used.

Altmetrics compliment traditional citation based metrics and can provide you with a fuller picture of your research impact. 

Image of a research paper with five icons: policy, newspaper, twitter, wikipedia, and rss reader to reflect the data that goes into altmetric attention scores

Altmetrics Advantages

  • ​Real-time immediate feedback on attention to research
  • Useful for early career researchers whose research may not yet have citations
  • Showcase attention to research outside academia

How can I use altmetrics?

  • Discover conversations about your research
  • Locate policy references to your research
  • Use in funding applications and reporting
  • Find potential collaborators 
  • Embed scores/badges on your website or CV

Top Tip: Get the Altmetric Bookmarklet

Install the Altmetric bookmarklet in your browser and discover the altmetric score for any research output with a DOI.

Instructions for adding the Altmetric bookmarklet - add the bookmarklet to your bookmarks toolbar, visit any paper, get article level metrics with a single click

Measuring research impact with altmetrics

Measuring research impact with altmetrics presentation, slides CC-BY Altmetric

Altmetric Attention Score

Altmetric and PlumX are the two main sources for altmetrics. Let's use Altmetric as an example of determining research attention.

The "Altmetric Donut" or Altmetric Attention Score is an easy way to decipher the attention and impact of research. Different colors represent different sources of attentions. Altmetric donuts with strong red have attention from news outlets, purple denotes mentions in policy documents, and a lot of blue means the research has been shared on Twitter or other social media. 

Example of an Altmetric Donut with strong news attention       An Altmetric donut example strong with policy attention       An Altmetric Donut with strong Twitter attention

There's no "right" or "good" Altmetric Attention score. A high score could be for either positive or negative reactions just like citations. It's important to remember that no data can tell you the quality of the paper, quality of researchers, or the whole story about research impact. Altmetrics data can tell you the type of attention research is receiving, what countries have engaged with the research, and if the article is influential or engaging.