• Article Galaxy Blog

September 20, 2018

What Are Altmetric Scores and Why Do They Matter?

Posted by: Mitja-Alexander Linss

Altmetrics 101

For scientific researchers, content is the fuel that feeds innovation. But getting that fuel isn’t always so easy. In fact, most researchers spend countless hours consuming peer-reviewed papers that turn out to be irrelevant to their topic, or simply don’t deliver. 

To speed scientific discovery, researchers need to get the right content at the right time. But to do that successfully, they need more information to guide their content acquisition decisions. 

When evaluating scientific content, researchers typically rely on a handful of traditional metrics—like impact factors, the h-index, and citation counts. Those types of metrics are helpful, but they only go so far. In addition to peer-reviews, researchers need to know how a given paper is being received more generally, outside of academic circles. 

That’s where Altmetric scores shine.

Altmetric scores track online conversations about peer-reviewed research and are published by Altmetric, a subsidiary of Digital Science. The scores are comprised of various metrics and qualitative data measuring a journal article’s online reputation and ranking it numerically. Sources to determine the Altmetric score include:

  • Peer reviews on Faculty of 1000
  • Citations on Wikipedia and in public policy documents
  • Discussions on research blogs
  • Mainstream media coverage
  • Bookmarks on reference managers
  • Mentions on social networks

Closing the loop, an article’s metadata—generated by a vast crowd of reviewers in a multitude of contexts (and ultimately summarized in the attention score)—feeds the data scientists, who in turn leverage that data to improve the research insights and the discovery process itself.

Taken together with the traditional metrics, Altmetric data helps round out the picture on published content to provide researchers with valuable insights on a paper’s influence and popularity around the world. In short, Altmetrics provide a broader view of a paper’s digital footprint.

Putting Altmetrics to Use

Altmetrics report a single ‘score’ for each item to indicate the amount of attention it has received. More importantly, however, they also reveal the details behind the score. Armed with those details, researchers can make better-informed document purchase decisions. Of course, more data and visibility is always helpful. But that’s especially true in a field where time is money—and the speed of discovery is critical to success.

Reprints Desk’s integrated research retrieval platform, Article Galaxy, helps researchers make efficient use of Altmetrics. The solution integrates with more than 70 discovery portals (e.g. PubMed, Google Scholar) to make each paper’s Altmetric score visible at the point of discovery. That means when a researcher finds an article of interest, they can evaluate the paper’s Altmetric data—directly from the search results page—and make a better-informed decision about whether it’s the best match for their needs. If it is, they can immediately access the article, without disrupting their workflow.

Article Galaxy also offers automated filtering for articles that meet a minimum desired Altmetric score—to allow researchers to quickly refine their search results even further. To learn more about Article Galaxy, please ask our Article Galaxy specialists.

Topics: Reprints Desk research article galaxy altmetrics researchers altmetrics score scientific content scientific researcher researcher scientific discovery innovation