Graphic courtesy of Jennifer Elder, Emory University, April 7, 2016
The importance of a given work has traditionally been determined by bibliometric measures such as the quality of the journal publishing the work and the number of citations to that work. How many scholars are citing the work in their articles? Where are they citing it?
Alternative metrics, or altmetrics, attempt to measure the influence of a given author or specific work through new communication channels such as:
Some journals and databases, such as ScienceDirect, incorporate both traditional citation measures and alternative metrics such as social media mentions, including a a bar graph that summarizes an article's Altmetric score.
The image below shows such information available in ScienceDirect for a 2012 article entitled, "Do reductions in class size raise students’ test scores? Evidence from population variation in Minnesota's elementary schools," in Economics of Education Review. Some institutional repositories also provide Almetrics data, such the University of Minnesota entry for this article.
Articles published in Public Library of Science (PLoS) include article-level metrics such as times viewed, saved, discussed, recommended, or cited (as determined by certain third party tools: Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed Central, and CrossRef).
Some article-level metrics for this article are displayed below; the full page shows more details such as figshare, Mendeley, Twitter, and Facebook.
Altmetric is the name of a "digital science" company based in London. The Altmetric company provides various altmetrics tools that can be used by publishers as well as individual researchers.
Their free bookmarklet can be dragged to a web browser bookmarks bar; then, when viewing an article page containing a digital object identifier, the "Altmetric it!" bookmarklet can be clicked to get a report with their "donut score" showing a summary as well as the number of times the article was was noted in blogs, Tweets, Facebook, Google+, and so on.
The bookmarklet badge can be embedded for no charge on the web pages of individual researchers and academic repositories.