I don’t think the top three science stars on Twitter are Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox and Dawkins. The honour, I think, should go to a disembodied brain, a Japanese science journalist and a health blogger from Thailand. Obviously.

Here’s our list:

neuro_skeptic @neuro_skeptic Neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry through a skeptical lens. Just a brain with some eyes.
yuji_ikegaya @yuji_ikegaya Google translation from Japanese: Ikeya Yuji brain researchers. [...] Serialized in Weekly Asahi, Yomiuri Shimbun, economist, at Kooyong other. I will introduce the latest information on brain research at Twitter.
thidakarn @thidakarn Google translation from Thai: Doctor lazy feline Issued in 11 volumes I want to be healthy, Thailand . I have no patients for cats. . Gosh, ^^ doctor .
edyong209 @edyong209 Science writer, freelance journalist, husband. I CONTAIN MULTITUDES–on partnerships between animals & microbes–out in 2016.
ananyo @ananyo Science journalist. Community editor for @TheEconomist. Opinions expressed are my own. Especially those that happen to be correct.
aller_md @aller_md Allergist – Twittering on #allergy, #asthma & #immunology. Associate Professor of Immunology. Del Salvador University, Buenos Aires. Chief Editor WAO website
erictopol @erictopol Cardiologist, researcher, Editor-in-Chief, Medscape, author of The Patient Will See You Now (to be released 1/15)
noahwg @noahwg Senior Editor @nature | Engagement Editor @FrontYoungMinds. These thoughts are mine alone since nobody else will take responsibility.
andybeetroot @andybeetroot Professor of Applied Physiology at Exeter University. Endurance sports training, physiology and nutrition expert. Not as cool as Gary Numan.


Some context: Science this week is carrying a news piece on the top 50 science stars of Twitter. Metrics, science and Twitter! I was going to go to bed early for once tonight but if ever there was a time for an opportunistic blog posting then this is it.

The article is plainly meant to be taken lightheartedly, like the K-index paper, but interestingly both have come in for some (fair, I reckon, if sometimes harshly delivered) criticism for not covering / valuing science communicators.

Selection problems aside I think the Science methodology is fine, but you do end up with a lot of stars who happen to be scientists and are on Twitter rather than people who are stars because of what they do on Twitter, if that makes sense. I reckon a better system would start off by taking everybody on Twitter and then look at:

  • how often do they tweet about research, and how often are those tweets retweeted, hat tipped or ‘via’ed (let’s treat all of these – RTs, MTs, HTs, vias – as retweets)

And we could help people interpret that data by also pulling in:

  • how many unique accounts are doing the retweeting
  • how global those accounts are – how many unique countries are they from?
  • what’s the reach of those accounts? What’s their total number of followers?

This sort of approach opens up the list to science communicators. The caveat is that a lot depends on how you define ‘research’. Let’s say we go for the Altmetric definition, which is that we consider a tweet to be about research if it links to a paper, book or dataset with a scholarly identifier. This means news stories and blog posts won’t get included. So this kind of stuff mentioned in the Science piece is a no go:

“Gilbert says he prefers to tweet materials that appeal to a general audience, rather than complex scientific papers”

But we will be measuring the kind of activity that @erictopol likes:

“Now, he starts his workday browsing through his Twitter feed for news and noteworthy research in his field”

Eric obviously contributes to Twitter as well as consuming data from it – he jumps from 17th place on the Science list to 7th on a list ordered by retweets.

Conveniently we have all this data going back to around Jan 2012, which is how I can tell. I’ve uploaded the numbers for the ‘top’ 1000 accounts by number of retweets to figshare (which comes in at #57, incidentally).

Account Papers tweeted, then retweeted by others Retweets Unique retweeters Sum of followers of unique retweeters Number of unique countries of retweeters
neuro_skeptic 5,213 45,442 14,133 9,528,055 108
yuji_ikegaya 193 27,631 15,272 8,141,617 88
thidakarn 194 25,501 17,121 2,745,015 73
edyong209 1,005 15,324 9331 10,844,071 93
ananyo 611 15,144 10,144 5,820,330 110
aller_md 3,297 11,490 751 274,999 40
erictopol 646 11,439 5,799 4,223,219 83
noahwg 488 10,938 8,224 5,151,045 95
andybeetroot 954 10,815 3,461 1,112,243 43
bengoldacre 280 10,064 7,686 7,553,402 75
uranus_2 4,400 9,582 1,936 910,825 30
rami_shaath 55 9,251 6,052 8,598,032 63
trishgreenhalgh 1,211 9,249 4,080 2,594,950 62
hayano 184 9,151 5,159 4,062,774 63
lulu__19 2 7,165 5,483 3,592,075 33


That’s the table for people, rather than people + organizations. The real star if we don’t discriminate against non-human accounts is @naturenews with an epic 174k retweets from 66k different people who have a combined upper bound follower count of 39M.

(that said the follower count number should be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s simply a sum of followers and doesn’t take duplicates into account, but many of the retweeters will share people on their followers list. That’s why it can only be considered an upper bound).

Science, NEJM and the BMJ come pretty close behind. There’s quite a lot of overlap with the Science list – Ben Goldacre, Jonathan Eisen and Vaughn Bell are all still there, but they’re joined by people like Carl Zimmer, Mo Costandi and Trish Greenhalgh. I haven’t looked at genders, but the data’s all there on figshare, so feel free to investigate.

I quite like the fact that @uberfacts also makes an appearance. Uberfacts is a funny fact of the day type service but has only tweeted about papers seven times since we started tracking Twitter. In fact in Uberfacts’ case it’s the same paper they’ve tweeted seven times but it in turn has been retweeted by eight and a half thousand people.The paper in case you’re wondering is perennial altmetrics favourite Winnie the Pooh: A Neurodevelopmental Perspective.

So finally, on that note… don’t take lists like this too seriously.


This Tuesday marked the first ever Altmetric and figshare publisher product day. Invited delegates from across the industry came together in Camden to hear from our guest speakers, and to participate in product workshops to help shape future development.

Up first were Mark Hahnel, founder of figshare, and Euan, from Altmetric, to give an update on what each company had been working on, and what we were hoping to get from the day.

davidThey were followed by David de Roure of the ESRC, who gave an interesting insight into how the reporting of research is evolving beyond the standard PDF and into the open distribution of results, data, and alternative outputs. David’s talk included some fascinating anecdotes and prompted us all to give thought to where our own tools and services were leading.

Natasha Martineau, Head of Research Communications at Imperial College London took to the stage next. Natasha gave a great overview of all of the work that the Communications and Public Affairs Division at Imperial does to raise the profile and impact of its research – from the online news site for news and longer form pieces about research, to working with journalists, and running public engagement events. She also talked about how they evaluate this work; how they work with researchers to report of the results of their efforts, and how communications and public engagement can increase the impact of research. Natasha’s talk raised a lot of interesting talking points about how publishers can work better with institutions to ensure effective coverage, and how Imperial academics had responded to the new initiatives.

We also asked along innovators Sparrho and Writelatex, who each presented a quick overview of their platforms and further demonstrated how disruptive technologies can be effective in supporting and helping to evolve established processes.

Insight into how publishers are making our current tools work for them came from Julie Sutton at Taylor and Francis, who gave a great run through of their figshare implementation (including some very clever looking data!), and there were some suggestions from Euan on how publishers could make best use of the Altmetric data across marketing, editorial, and sales departments, as well as ensuring website users are understanding the context of the article level metrics.

photo 3 (3)

The afternoon was dedicated to product sessions, with attendees given the opportunity to discuss 2 products of their choice in a group format.

Run by the Altmetric and figshare teams, these sessions gave us a chance to ask some key questions of our audience and get valuable feedback, which we now hope to align with when establishing future development priorities.

It was a really interesting day – having never run one before we weren’t quite sure what to expect, and were delighted that everyone who attended was so willing to give us their time and share their opinions. We hope to run more in the future so do drop us a line if this sounds like your kind of thing – we are always looking for feedback on how we can make our tools work better for all of our users.

The Altmetric team is going to be busy over the next few months! It’s back to school time and we’ll be hitting the road again to meet, greet, present and learn from all of you at loads of different events in the run up to Christmas (too early?! get shopping…)

If you’d like to hear more about about how we work and the tools we offer for publishers, institutions and funders, do get in touch to arrange a meeting or stop by our sessions at the following events:

ALPSP Annual Conference
10th – 12th September, London, UK
Altmetric Founder Euan Adie will be speaking in the Metrics and More session along with representatives from Elsevier and Wiley on the morning of Thursday the 11th – drop by the session or email us to arrange a chat.

1:AM Altmetrics Conference
25th – 26th September, London, UK
The Altmetric team will be running, presenting and attending the 1st altmetrics conference, to be held at the Wellcome Collection in London. Over the course of 2 days we will hear from publishers, funders and institutions to see how they are using (or hope to use) altmetrics, and to discuss how the discipline might develop. The event will be live streamed online, so tune in for further details!

Frankfurt Bookfair
8th – 12th October, Frankfurt, Germany
It’s that time of year again already! We’ll be at the Frankfurt Bookfair to meet and greet publishing’s finest – and there’ll be a half hour presentation from Euan on the Professional and Scientific Information hotspot stage in Hall 4.2 at 2pm on Thursday the 9th. Do come along to find out more about how we can help you deliver more value to your authors, readers, and internal teams, and get in touch if you’d like to arrange a time to meet.

Society of Research Administrators Annual Meeting
18th – 22nd October, San Diego, CA
Sara Rouhi, Altmetric Product Sales Manager, will be running a lunch time session Altmetrics: A Practical Introduction on Tuesday the 21st - she’ll also be on hand at booth #604 to answer any questions you might have. Email Sara if you’d like to arrange a meeting.

Internet Librarian International
20th – 22nd October, London, UK
We love librarians! For some time now we’ve offered free tools to librarians, researchers and institutional repository managers to help them get started and find their way around altmetrics.

We’ll be at internet librarian to spread the word; Cat will be running a workshop session on the 20th in conjunction with the nice folks at the University of Sheffield and Wolverhampton University, entitled Altmetrics in the Academy, and Euan will be speaking in the plenary on altmetrics on Wednesday the 22nd. It’s shaping up to be an interesting event – do join us for one of the sessions, or email us for more details.

Digital Library Forum
27th – 29th October, Atlanta, GA
Altmetric product Sales Manager Sara Rouhi will be running a lunch time session, Applied Altmetrics: Implementations and Uses within an Institution on Monday the 27th – join her to find out more about how altmetrics can help you and your faculty in gathering evidence of the wider impact of your research.

Charleston 2014
5th – 8th November, Charleston, SC
Stop by our lunch time discussion, The promise and perils of “alternative metrics”: What librarians need to know about the #altmetrics landscape, to get to grips with the latest developments and new ideas. Altmetric’s Sara Rouhi will be there to answer all and any questions you might have – so feel free to ask!

UKSG One Day Conference and Forum
20th – 21st November, London, UK
We’ll be present on both days so stop by the booth to say hi! Terry Bucknell will be giving a lightning talk overview of all things Digital Science on the afternoon of the 20th.

7th UNICA Scholarly Communication Seminar
27th – 28th November, Rome, Italy
Details TBC!

And likely a few more to follow over the next few months! Do feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions or would like to arrange a chat.

We listened to your feedback…

… and we’ve made it easier to export article- and journal-level attention data from the Altmetric Explorer! Any users who frequently insert Altmetric data into custom reports, spreadsheets, and other documents, will now find the exporting capabilities to be more reliable.

The new improvements specifically affect the “Export articles” and “Export journals” buttons, found in the Altmetric Explorer’s Articles and Journals tabs, respectively:

Export - Articles and Journals

The changes also apply to the “Export to Excel” buttons for any saved workspaces (formerly known as Reports) in the “My Workspaces” dashboard:

Export - My Workspaces


What’s new?

First of all, exported data from the Explorer will now be provided as a spreadsheet in .csv format (instead of in .txt format, as was previously the case). This means that you’ll now be able to open the file directly in Microsoft Excel (or your spreadsheet application of choice), without having to use an import wizard first.

Because exported spreadsheets always tend to be rather massive in size, we also decided to switch to delivering the spreadsheets by e-mail in a download link, rather than by a direct download from the Explorer. As a result, you’ll see a message like this when you click on an Export button:

Export articles box

By processing data in this way, we’re able to produce the exports much more quickly and efficiently. As such, when you request a data export, the resulting spreadsheet will now be delivered to the e-mail address that is registered to the Altmetric Explorer account. You don’t need to worry about large attachments showing up in your inbox though; a link to download the spreadsheet (valid for 7 days) will be provided in the e-mail message.

You should get the export in your inbox within minutes of requesting the spreadsheet. However, you should ensure that messages from our e-mail address reports@altmetric.com don’t get sent to your spam folder.


Like this feature? Want others? Get in touch with the team at support@altmetric.com or suggest some ideas here.

euanamaYesterday Altmetric founder Euan took part in our first ever Ask Me Anything on the science subreddit. With the session title “Misuse of the Journal Impact Factor and focusing only on citations sucks, Ask Me Anything” the stage was set for an interesting and provocative discussion – and that is exactly what we got .

You can view the full session here.

Questions came in thick and fast from researchers and institutions, and they varied from how funders can or should be making use of altmetrics, to how we might encourage their take up amongst the wider research community, to how research is typically reflected in the media.

For an hour long session time went very quickly, and Euan was certainly having to think on his feet as he put together his answers (all of which he was keen to give due attention to before posting).

It was great to see so many different people actively involved in the discussion – you can recap what happened on twitter via the #askeuan hashtag – and as always if you have any questions or comments for us feel free to ask @altmetric, or email info@altmetric.com.

There are still a few questions on Reddit waiting for an answer, and Euan is hoping to get to them in the next few days. Thanks to all who contributed!

Has your work been referenced in public policy?

Whenever we talk to people about altmetrics, we explain how the attention data we collect may be able to help identify non-traditional forms of impact. So rather than only relying on citation counts and other traditional bibliometrics, we’re also interested in finding about the impact of research in society at large.

As you might have already learned from our June press release announcing the launch of Altmetric for Institutions, we recently started tracking some highly impactful new sources of attention: policy and guidance documents. Specifically, we are now looking for references made to research papers within these documents. We’re really proud of this addition, (represented by a violet stripe in the donut) as policy documents are arguably some of the most important sources we’ve ever tracked.


How does our policy tracking work?

Policy documents are often published in PDF format. Sometimes these documents will have reference sections, which list all the articles, books, and other publications that have been cited in the text. We begin by automatically processing each PDF document, pulling out plain text and searching for possible references to scholarly articles, line-by-line. Afterwards, the references are checked in PubMed and CrossRef databases to determine whether or not they unambiguously refer to actual scholarly articles. Once a match is made, the policy document is added to that article’s details page.

Here’s an example of a World Health Organization policy document on collaborative TB/HIV activities, and the details page of a BMJ article that was mentioned in the document.

WHO policy mention example


Which policy documents are being tracked?

Since each website that hosts policy documents is different, we actually have to write a custom crawler for each individual policy document site. (Policy documents are not stored in the same way from source to source, and can’t be retrieved from an API, hence the need for a custom solution for each site.)

We’re aiming to track over 40 policy sites by the end of 2014. Currently, some sources that you might see on Altmetric article details pages include, but are not limited to:


Have any policy sources to suggest?

Of course, our target list of policy sources is by no means complete! We’re always looking for further suggestions to improve the source so if you think there’s a particular organisation that has policy documents we should be tracking, please send us a message at support@altmetric.com to let us know. We’d be happy to send you some Altmetric goodies as a thank you!

euanJoin us for the first ever Altmetric Ask Me Anything at 6pm BST/1pm EST on the 21st of August. Founder Euan Adie will be live on reddit to answer all and anything in the session:

Misuse of the Journal Impact Factor and focusing only on citations sucks.

“It’s Impact Factor season in the academic publishing world, with journals getting their latest scores… but while it’s an interesting indicator, journal level stats and looking only at citations only give you part of the picture when it comes to dissemination and impact.

What about patient advocate groups, or engineers, or ER doctors? What about policy makers and standards bodies? They don’t cite work but they may read or use it. Many papers have “impact” in a very real sense that isn’t reflected in the number of citations they then receive.

The field of altmetrics is about looking at a wider variety of indicators – social media, mainstream media, patents, policy documents, download stats – that relate to a wider variety of outputs – datasets and software as well as papers – to supplement peer review and citations. You may have seen the altmetrics manifesto already at altmetrics.org.

I think altmetrics and the changes that they’re helping to drive present a great opportunity over the next few years for scientists to change how they are assessed for tenure, promotion and for grants: choosing what they should be judged on, making metrics their servant not master and democratising the data behind it all.

But should we care about wider impact? Impact definitely isn’t the same thing as quality, is quality all we should be concerned about?

Have you ever been in the situation where you felt it would have been helpful to be able to demonstrate success beyond citations or the IF of the journal you published in?”

If you wish to participate in the Ask me Anything forum, you will need to register with Reddit. Keep an eye on the Altmetric twitter feed for real-time updates as the session takes place – and get your questions ready!

David Nutt's tweetHow do you usually share your article’s Altmetric data?

We’ve seen many authors (and sometimes their publishers!) get excited about the level of attention their article has received, and then tweet a link to the corresponding details page. The cool thing about tweeting the article details page is that under the tweet, you can actually see a snippet of the details page with the article’s title and Altmetric score. Of course, clicking through to the details page itself gives you the breakdown of attention by source, with the actual mentions listed.


What happens when I print an article details page?

Maybe you want to show people in your department what altmetrics are about, and need some concrete examples with actual data and real conversations. It’s nice to be able to tweet a link to your article’s details page, but if you wanted to share the page with your colleagues during an offline meeting, what you’d really need is something on paper.

Up until now, it hasn’t been straightforward to print out an Altmetric article details page. You could hit “Print” but you’d only get the tab you were currently viewing. If you wanted to print everything from each tab, you’d have to go click and then print each tab individually. The good news is that, thanks to some user feedback, we’ve now fixed up these printing issues to make things much, much easier!

Printable details pageTry out our new print-friendly format using this details page for a Nature Climate Change article. Just hit “Print” in your browser, and you should get all the data contained within those details pages, with each source tab separated by a horizontal line. You’ll even get the score and demographics tabs listed at the end of the document, along with expanded “Score in context” snippets on the left-hand part of the page.

Like this feature? Want others? Get in touch with the team at support@altmetric.com or suggest some ideas here.

We are excited to announce that registration is now open for the 1:AM Altmetrics conference, to be held in London on the 25th and 26th of September this year.

This conference is the first of its kind to be held in Europe, and we invite librarians, funders, publishers, researchers, and anyone interested in new forms of research evaluation and impact assessment to join us for what is sure to be an interesting few days.

1:AM logoThe aim is to provide an opportunity to share ideas and discuss how and why altmetrics are or should be applied in the scholarly arena. We will hear from publishers, funders and institutions to learn about their experiences (good and bad), and encourage delegate feedback and input in the group workshop sessions.

Amongst the many varied contributors will be an update from James Wilsdon, Chair of the HEFCE steering group on Metrics, and a presentation from Todd Carpenter, Executive Director of the National Information Standards Organisation in the US, who are currently undertaking a review of altmetrics with the aim of developing standards across the discipline.

We are also inviting delegates to share their ideas and experiences in communicating research or the application of altmetrics to their workflow in an informal poster session. Just fill in this form to let us know you’d like to bring one along – we’ll display them in the refreshment area and during the drinks reception. It’s a great opportunity to show off some of the activity that’s been taking place within your organisation, and we can’t wait to learn about of the brilliant initiatives that are underway.

Organised (and kindly supported by) representatives from the Wellcome Trust, Altmetric, PLOS, Elsevier, Springer and eLife, delegate fees are just £15. Following a day of invited speakers and interactive sessions, the Thursday evening provides a chance to get to know colleagues from the wider community during a drinks reception – and there is also the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Wellcome Collection exhibitions.

Travel grants for the conference are on offer to librarians and researchers wishing to attend – to apply please see the details on this page (the deadline for applications is the 29th of August).

Places are likely to fill up fast so register today.

We look forward to having you join us in London!


We recently had party to celebrate the launch of Altmetric for Institutions, and all of the hard work that has gone into it over the last few months.

It was a nice chance to relax, have a beer (and a donut!) and show off our shiny new platform to all of our colleagues.

Altmetric developer Shane was photographer for the night – here is a selection of the action he captured:


We’re already busy working on the next developments (and the next box of donuts…) so stay tuned for more news from us soon.