Unveiling Alt-Metrics

What Are Alt-Metrics

Short for alternative metrics — is a measure of web-based scholarly interaction. It aims to measure how often research is tweeted, blogged about, downloaded or bookmarked. Its development can be seen as a response to the impact of social networking on the research environment.

See the Altmetrics manifesto, posted on altmetrics.org, for further explanation about the development of this approach to measuring scholarly impact.

Find futher tools on the Altmetrics.org Tools page:

  • Impact Story — Allows the user to create an online profile that gathers usage data from the many online research-sharing platforms like those mentioned above
  • Plum Analytics — Aims to provide a more comprehensive measure of a researcher's scholarly impact by gathering data about usage of data sets, open access publications, presentations, blogs and other types of scholarly communication
  • Altmetric for Scopus — Appears in the sidebar of Scopus article and abstract pages. Note, an Altmetric score will only appear in the sidebar when there is data available for the article that you're currently viewing

Why Consider Alt-Metrics

Alternative measures can be used to compensate for some of the limitations of traditional research metrics and to present a more well-rounded picture of research impact. They should be used as a supplement to traditional metrics.

Alternative measures can assist:

  • Where citation databases do not provide coverage of a discipline
  • In assessing the impact of research output which does not take the form of journal articles or books
  • Where impact in non-scholarly environments is significant
  • In determining how research is being implemented in practice
  • In uncovering the impact of very recently published work

Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites can be useful for tracking authors and their research and can function as hubs of online scholarly interaction.

You can:

  • See analytics on your profile and papers
  • Get connected and stay in touch with your scholarly community
  • Follow other people in your field
  • Share your papers
  • Ask for advice
  • Receive alerts about publications, events and/or jobs

Below are some of the most widely used scholarly networking tools:

Additional Databases

Certain disciplines, journals, and document types may not be well represented in the more traditional sources for citation analysis, such as Web of Science. In this situation, it becomes necessary to find alternative sources for locating citations to an author or published work. This page identifies potential alternative sources grouped by their database search interface since each of the sources within a group would have a common search strategy for extracting citation information.

  • ACM Digital Library — ACM Digital Library covers computing literature from the Association of Computing Machinery and many other publishers. Includes books, journal articles, conference proceedings, doctoral dissertations, master's theses, and technical reports
  • ScienceDirect Business, Economics & Mathematics Collection — is a leading full-text scientific database offering journal articles and book chapters from nearly 2,500 journals and more than 30,000 books. It is part of Elsevier therefore articles can be exported through Scopus
  • ProQuest Databases — ProQuest is a large platform that hosts many databases, including ones with ProQuest in the name like ProQuest Biological Sciences, , ProQuest Psychology journals, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS)‎, J.P. Morgan Research‎ as well as others like ABI/Inform (business) and ProQuest Central. Regardless of the name of the database, searching for citing articles is the same across the ProQuest platform
  • Sage Journals Online — The Sage Journals Online site is accessible directly from online.sagepub.com. If you are off-campus, log in remotely first. Sage publishes over 500 journals within the biomedical sciences, humanities, life sciences, materials science and engineering, and the social sciences
  • PubMed Central — PubMed covers bio-medical and life sciences journal articles. Links to citing articles found in the PubMed Central collection of full text journals.PubMed Central is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature

Publish or Perish


Publish or Perish is a free software program that retrieves and analyses academic citations. It uses Google Scholar to obtain the raw data so has similar advantages and disadvantages. As with Google Scholar, all data needs to be verified for accuracy, for example, check for duplicate citations and check all the citations are from scholarly works.


The Publish or Perish website provides the software download and further information about using this product.