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Evaluating Research Impact Using Altmetrics

Altmetrics in Context

Altmetrics are indicators which seek to capture the 'attention' or 'engagement' achieved by a broad spectrum of research outputs via the social web at various stages in the research process.  

Measuring the impact of research outputs is difficult and imperfect. Citations, usage, and altmetrics are all supplemental indicators of the impact of research outputs and should not be used as a proxy for determining the true impact, reach and application of research both within the academy and more broadly on industry, the economy and society.  

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Types of Altmetrics

Altmetrics are based on social web data such as:

  • Blog cites
  • Twitter cites
  • Mendeley records
  • Online repository records
  • Article views and/or downloads
  • News or media mentions, etc.

As well as demonstrating impact, altmetrics can be used to find collaborators, or to provide evidence of engagement with the content of a spectrum of research outputs including:

  • Research datasets

  • Scientific software

  • Posters and presentations at conferences, in particular in the medical sciences

  • Electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs)

  • Performances in film, theatre, and music

  • Blogs, web pages

  • Lectures, online classes, and other teaching activities

  • Journal articles, books etc.