The score in the middle of the Altmetric donut visualization gives you a quick idea of the level of attention that a paper has received. We get a lot of positive feedback from authors about it – but we also sometimes hear legitimate worries from some editors and institutional repositories that it might make researchers think that they’re being judged. It’s a tricky balancing act: we want to make the data as easy as possible for users to get into and explore, and to help identify articles around which there’s a lot of buzz, without sending the wrong message that numbers are more important than the underlying data (Phil Davis wrote an interesting post on the pros and cons of different altmetrics visualizations at the Scholarly Kitchen last year).

Related to this – the second most popular question I get asked at conferences is if the score is just the total number of mentions of an article (the most popular question is about whether we only track DOI links). It’s not. :)

So we’re announcing two things today. The first is that the donut style embeds now all have the option to hide the score – just set the data-no-score attribute to “true”

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 11.31.38

The API documentation has been updated with an example.

… when users click on a donut without a score they’ll see a details page that de-emphasises it too. We’ve kept the score tab so you can still put the level of attention in context:


Secondly we’ve rewritten the page describing how the scoring process works to make it easier to understand.

The score is a tricksy thing, given that it’s meant to compare apples to oranges. It’s necessarily subjective but openly so and a key aspect is that it’s consistently subjective in the same way to every single article.

What we’re wondering about now is how to reflect the volume of attention that a paper has gotten without a number, and we’ll be rolling out new visualisations over the coming months that address this issue.

In the meantime, the change is live so feel free to experiment!

PubPeer on AltmetricIf you’ve browsed through the Altmetric data recently, you might have noticed a silver stripe in many of our donuts. The new silver stripe represents a brand new source of online academic attention: open peer review platforms.

Following from an earlier announcement about our partnership with Publons, we recently launched a new “peer reviews” tab on our article details pages. The peer reviews tab displays attention data that we are receiving from two of the major peer review platforms, Publons and PubPeer.

Open peer review platforms are exciting because they provide common locations for all researchers to discuss and comment on papers, either anonymously or using one’s real name. The detailed conversations (which are often very technical and sometimes even involve the article authors) make peer review websites a fantastic source of scholarly attention, especially as online peer reviewer communities continue to expand. Additionally, since Altmetric’s other sources often tend to blend public and scholarly attention together, the peer reviews tab provides a clearer look into the academic chatter that surrounds a paper.

Although we’ve grouped the two sites into the same peer reviews tab on the details pages, it’s important to note that both platforms have different features which set them apart from each other. For instance, Publons tends to host standalone reviews and incorporates its own scoring system for article quality and significance. Examples of articles that have been reviewed on Publons can be found here and here.

On the other hand, PubPeer is used like an online journal club, where the reviews typically consist of short comments that are organised into discussion threads. (This isn’t always the case though; some people do sometimes choose to write long reviews into a single comment.) An example of an article that has been the topic of a fairly active conversation on PubPeer can be found here (also read the full PubPeer comments).

At the moment, the vast majority of papers that are being discussed on Publons and PubPeer tend to be science-related. Of the 20 most discussed papers in the past week, 18 were life sciences papers and the remaining 2 were from the physical sciences. (This paper topped the list.) Over the coming months, it’ll be interesting to see how the open peer review services grow, and if other disciplines will also start to adopt the platforms.

We’re really pleased to announce that we’re now collecting data from Sina Weibo, and it’ll start appearing in visualisations and on the details pages soon.

You may have noticed that on the demographics tab for most articles China doesn’t usually show much attention, even when the paper is by Chinese authors. That’s because Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia are all blocked in mainland China.

Chinese researchers do talk about academic papers though, just elsewhere. One of the requests we see most often from publishers is for us track systems like Sina Weibo, which is a popular microblogging service of a similar size to Twitter – with half a billion users and some 100 million messages per day.

Never let it be said that we don’t listen! You’ll start seeing the data soon:

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 10.08.46


An unscientific study – me eyeballing the data – suggests that the volume of links on Sina Weibo to the scholarly journals we track is between 10 and 20% that of Twitter, putting it in the same league as Google+. That said, this could be because we don’t yet index many wholly Chinese journals (China has its own infrastructure for scholarly publications). It’s really tricky to figure out these kinds of biases without any indications from the data, so hopefully we’ll now be able to improve on that front too.

China isn’t the only country where users prefer local systems over international (usually American) ones. In Russian speaking territories, for example, is Facebook’s primary competitor with 239 million users.

We’re always on the lookout for new data sources, so let us know if you’re aware of any that we really should be tracking.

In the meantime – we think Sina Weibo data will be a great supplement to the sources authors already see mentions from, and unlock a bunch of new, interesting use cases. Have fun exploring!

It’s that time of year again - mark your London Book Fair calendar for April 10, as Altmetric will be making a splash!

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 12.22.07

Don’t miss “THE BIG DEBATE: Business models – experimenting for the future ” panel at the BIC Supply Chain - Altmetric’s Founder, Euan Adie will be speaking on recent developments in scholarly publishing:

“There is no denying that the last decade has seen some monumental changes within the publishing industry. The surging power of social media and direct to consumer selling, the ‘death’ of the physical book and the rise of the ebook, the on-going debate over open-access, tech start-ups and consolidation have greatly altered the face of our industry. Publishers know they need to stay agile to respond to these changes in order to stay profitable.

This panel debate will consider opportunities such as the repackaging of content, product bundling and subscription access, and focus on the challenges publishers face in revising business strategies in order to experiment, questioning which might be the right ones to adopt for the future and looking at how they are adjusting their business models to stay relevant.”

We’ll also be participating in the Digital Innovation Exhibition, where we were lucky enough to win an exhibition space in the TechCentral Zone (courtesy of by IC Tomorrow, part of the Technology Strategy Board Network).

Stop by the booth to find out more about what Altmetric do, and how our tools can help support and add value for your authors, readers and publishing partners.

Over the next few months we’ll be bringing you some posts from other members of the Altmetric and Digital Science team. Watch this space – these are some of the brightest and most innovative people you could wish to work with!

We’re starting this week with Shane, the newest developer on the Altmetric team:

“I thought I’d say a few words on why I’m really excited about altmetrics in general and why science needs to pay more attention to data other than citation counts.

At a company conference last week we had a guest speaker, Daniel Glaser, who really got me excited about two way communication between the researchers and the public. That’s a relatively new idea. In the past, scientists would hide away in their labs to produce their research, and release it. And then move on. No feedback from anyone but their peers, and having no idea what their impact on society has been. This type of behaviour really damaged public trust: there’s lots of evidence of this.

That’s where new areas like alternative metrics comes in. Finally a researcher can go to one place and see what impact their work is having, and better: who’s talking about their work. One of the pieces of data we show for an article is the list of tweets that have mentioned it. The author can see the tweet and reply to it if they feel the need. Opening avenues where people can point out “have you thought about this edge case scenario?” can only make science stronger and make people more accepting of the results.

There’s a lot of work for us to do in promoting altmetrics to make people see how valuable they are. There’s also a lot of work for us to do on the development team to make sure our products are actually useful! At the moment there’s a big focus on making sure the integrity of our data is strong – these metrics come all other from the internet in lots of (some times messy) formats. It’s our job to clean that up and present it to you in a convenient way.

As a small team, the demands on our time change on a daily (sometimes hourly!) basis. It’s important for us to focus on the bigger picture and remember what we are all in this for in the first place – to help grow and improve the scholarly communication process.”

Something colorful caught our eye on Reddit last week: an amazing, homemade, altmetric-like origami piece.

We got in touch with creator Ariel Williams to find out more about how she creates her pieces and give us a quick step by step guide. So, in theory, all you need to do is follow the simple steps below and you too can be the proud owner of your very own construction. There’s also an online tutorial here. Good luck!

1. Begin with your materials. Each pile is made out of 12 pieces.

step 1







2. Fold all your pieces. Each piece requires about 10 folds each.


step 2







3. Weave / interlock all your pieces together to make your first cube.








4. Begin your next cube interwoven with the previous one; this takes a lot of patience.


Photo 6






5. Continue until satisfied. To make a wreath, at least 12 cubes (144 pieces of paper) are required.








6. More colours can be added as desired, creating a larger wreath.

Photo 8







7. Or you can stick with 12 and create a wreath that looks strikingly like the Altmetric logo.








Working at a quick pace, one wreath takes approximately 7-8 hours to complete. Easy!

Alternatively… you can get yourself a ready-made version online here.

If you decide to have a go yourself, please do share the results with us by email or on Twitter (we might even attempt it in the Altmetric office). And, of course, thanks very much to Ariel for sharing your impressive origami skills with us.

It’s been a few months since we launched the Altmetric widget for bloggers; so far we’ve had some great feedback and seen an encouraging amount of take up.

We thought we’d take a look at some of the implementations to date to help inspire others who might like to do the same:

1. figshare

Fellow Digital Science supported start up figshare have added a customized version of our widget to their blog. The widget is pulling in all articles tracked by altmetric which are related to the keyword phrase ‘data management’.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 16.15.32

Mark Hahnel, founder of figshare, comments; “Adding the Altmetric widget to the blog is a great way of helping our readers discover new, relevant content which may not otherwise have come to their attention – and it’s useful for making sure my team keep up to date with the latest research!”

2. thescepticalcymist

The team at Nature Chemistry have long been interested in altmetrics, and in particular the new insights that it can offer for development in the discipline. When we published our 2013 Top 100 list, they made one too.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 16.21.13

With thousands of monthly visitors, their blog regularly features the brightest and best (or, more recently, asks pressing questions such as ‘How cold is cold, and how big is a drop of liquid?’)

This content is now further supported by an embed of the Altmetric widget – which in this instance provides readers with a reliable source of the chemistry articles currently receiving attention online.


Altmetrics fan @keitabando has created his own version of the widget for his blog. This embed takes advantage of the different sizes offered in the generator coding, and sits really nicely alongside the other content on his site.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 16.28.54

Now it’s your turn…

The widgets can be updated and reformatted as often as you like – perhaps you might like to think about a keyword of the week feature? As a way of alerting authors to the most-talked about papers of the moment in a specific field, the widget enables blog owners to continually share and highlight valuable research content in just a few clicks.

Can’t wait to get started? Click here to create your own version of the widget today


The Altmetric embeddable badges are a highly configurable addition for any website with scholarly content. However, the number and combinations of configurations for the badges can be overwhelming. What do each of the badge types look like? What do they look like with details on the right? How about with the popover? I realised it would be much simpler if somebody could directly configure a badge so that they can see how each option affects the final result.

At Altmetric we have been trialling the idea of employee-driven projects on Thursday afternoons – called Hackternoons. I decided to have a go at creating an “Interactive embed” during our Hackternoons. Here is the result, a configurable, tweakable, toggle-able embed:

Here is the HTML you can put in your webpage for the above result:

We have included this DIY embedinator in our documentation pages for the embeds.

The technical stuff

I decided to try ReactJS (from Facebook) for this project because it looked useful for creating isolated components. This turned out to be a very good choice and ReactJS’s component design fits very well. There are three components that comprise the “Interactive embeds” – the form, the embed preview and the HTML code required to reproduce that embed configuration on a website. There is one state structure that all those components read from and only the form component modifies. This allows for seperation of each component, they don’t communicate with each other and don’t even need to be aware of each other.

Once I’d created a proof of concept in Javascript with ReactJS, my colleague Paul rewrote that using Om (a ClojureScript interface to ReactJS). The result is a completed version of Paul’s Om code. Using ClojureScript meant using cljsbuild‘s auto-rebuilding ability which sped up development somewhat.

ClojureScript and Om provide value on top of ReactJS that is hard to resist. First and foremost for me is having the expressive power of Clojure available (and compiling down to Javascript), e.g. being able to specify callbacks as partially applied functions. I also took advantage of ClojureScript’s inclusion of the Google Closure toolkit to use the cross-browser DOM utility functions (reminder: IE8 does not have getElementsByClassName).

The source code for these configurable badges is up on Github, called golden-kestrel.

With Sochi 2014 well underway, we thought it might be interesting to have a bit of a delve through the Altmetric data to find out a bit more about the research that’s been done on the winter olympics, and the attention it’s received.

To do this, we ran a number of keyword searches in the Altmetric Explorer – terms used included ‘winter olympics’, ‘skiing’, ‘luge’, ‘snowboarding’, ‘ice hockey’ and ‘ice skating’.

The results were interesting, to say the least. Papers which have received attention varied from a study on the labour market effects of the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, to an article on Luge track safety published on the arXiv platform. Needless to say, many papers focussed on the potential health and injury risks or undertaking such activities – but others took a rather different approach. Amongst those that caught our eye (based on title and abstract alone) were:

The most popular of the papers in our search was a recently publishing Nature special on skiing – which to date has seen over 250 tweets, placing it in the 98% percentile of articles we have tracked mentions for from Nature.

Have you come across any interesting or unusual olympics related reading? What would you like to see a study on? Let us know in the comments below!

It’s Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air! Whether you are spending the day mooning over your loved one, celebrating your freedom with your friends, or trying to pretend such a total non-event does not even register on your calendar, it’s pretty hard to avoid. Have pity for the giver of the heartlessly abandoned gift balloon (currently to be seen floating around west London – I kid you not).

In celebration of this joyous occasion we decided to take a look to see which research on the tricky topic of love has been receiving attention online. As it turns out, there’s a lot of it. And people seem to like to talk about it. From dating, early stage relationships, happy coupledom and marriage to complex situations of infidelity and office relationships, defining aspects of love is a challenge that many have accepted. So welcome, to the Altmetric Guide to Love, as we offer a step by step walkthrough of the most complicated of human relationships (unmoderated, and most certainly untested).

The First Steps: Finding a Partner
Ask almost anyone what’s important to them in the life, and the majority will include finding a companion to be happy with somewhere in the list. Finding that person, however, can be somewhat difficult. These papers examine the process of choosing a suitable match, and the (often crazy, addictive) early stage dynamics of ‘falling in love’:

Settling down, or just settling?
So now you’re past the initial giddy stages of a new relationship. It’s about time to find out how you really work as a couple. For some, this will present some scary truths. Others will settle comfortably into the security of a long term relationship in which to build a future together:

Tough times – the path of true love never runs smooth
We all have our ups and downs in life, and our relationships are no exception to this. These papers address the difficulties involved in emotional attachment:

Last but not least, love in the office
A large proportion of our waking hours are spent in the workplace each week. And, some would argue, it is the ideal place to find a partner. So how does this come about, and what effects does it have on those around us? These papers investigate:

So wherever you are in your very own romantic odyssey, good luck. And Happy Valentine’s Day! If all else fails, Bridget Jones is probably on TV later.