Research Visibility & Altmetrics: Altmetrics

What are altmetrics?

Research papers are shared, discussed, downloaded and bookmarked in social media. Do you know how many times your paper is shared, who is sharing it and what do they say about it? 

Altmetrics are new type of metrics. "Alternative metrics", "article level metrics", "social media metrics" and "next-generation metrics" are the names given to these metrics. Altmetrics are studying the citations, tweets and likes that a given book or article receives, as well as the number of times it is shared, bookmarked, accessed, downloaded, mentioned, recommended, reviewed or discussed. Altmetrics potential for measuring the broader societal impacts of scientific research have been under discussion.

Services like PlumX or Almetric monitors mentions in different social media platforms. You are also able to see who is talking about your work and how it is interpreted. Kudos service helps to disseminate information on publications to different online services and social media.


Picture Four ways to measure impact. Source: Priem, J.; Taraborelli, D.; Groth, P.; Neylon, C. Altmetrics: a manifesto 10.2.2015

Strenghts and limitations of altmetrics


  • Broadness - scholarly influence and impacts on other audiences
  • Diversity – ability to measure different types of research objects (e.g. data, software tools and applications);
  • Multi-faceted - the same object can be measured by multiple signals (e.g. comments, tweets, likes, views, downloads);
  • Speed - altmetric signals appear fast


  • Lack of robustness
  • Ease of manipulation and gaming
  • Limited uptake of social media in several disciplines and countries
  • Lack of free access to the underlying data

Source: Report of the European Commission Expert Group on Altmetrics
"Next-generation metrics: Responsible metrics and evaluation for open science"

Selected papers on altmetrics

J. Priem, D. Taraborelli, P. Groth, C. Neylon (2010), Altmetrics: A manifesto, 26 October 2010.

Didegah, F., Bowman, T.D., & Holmberg, K. (2018). On the differences between citations and altmetrics: An investigation of factors driving altmetrics vs. citations for Finnish articles. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, vol. 69, no. 6, pp. 832-843. DOI: 10.1002/asi.23934.

Holmberg, K. & Thelwall, M. (2014). Disciplinary differences in Twitter scholarly communication. Scientometrics, vol. 101, no. 2, pp. 1027-1042. DOI:10.1007/s11192-014-1229-3.

Haustein, S., Bowman, T.D. & Costas, R., 2016. Interpreting “altmetrics”: viewing acts on
social media through the lens of citation and social theories.
In C. R. Sugimoto, ed. Theories
of Informetrics and Scholarly Communication. De Gruyter, pp. 372–406.

Haustein, S., 2016. Grand challenges in altmetrics: heterogeneity, data quality and
. Scientometrics, 108(1), pp.413–423.

Vainio, J. & Holmberg, K. (2017). Tieteellisten julkaisujen verkkohuomio – “pintahörinää” vai vaikuttavuutta? Tiedepolitiikka, vol. 2.

Tweets about Altmetrics