Altmetric Blog

Altmetric-supported research: 2017 in review

Stacy Konkiel, 19th December 2017

2017 saw an explosive growth in the number of researchers investigating Altmetric’s data, with some pretty cool results! Thanks to the 30+ publications, presentations, and theses/dissertations that researchers have released, we’ve learned (among many other things) that:

  • The percentage of research discussed online doubled between 2011 and 2015;
  • For ornithology research, higher Altmetric Attention Scores are correlated with a 112% increase in citation rate; and
  • In chemistry, publishing Open Access leads to more online attention for female authors

Here are some of the many Open Access* research outputs resulting from studies published on our data this year.

“Measuring social media activity of scientific literature: an exhaustive comparison of scopus and novel altmetrics big data” by Hassan et al

This study found that online attention for research nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015 (from ~11% coverage to ~20% coverage of research indexed in Scopus). Health-related research, in particular, saw large bump–a 39% increase in blog coverage. The researchers also found a correlation between highly cited publications and total altmetrics for articles studied.

“Tweeting birds: online mentions predict future citations in ornithology” by Finch, O’Hanlon & Dudley

From the abstract: “Here, we explore variation in the Altmetric Attention Score of 2677 research articles published in 10 ornithological journals between 2012 and 2016. On average, AAS increased sevenfold in just five years, primarily due to increased activity on Twitter which contributed 75% of the total score. For a subset of 878 articles published in 2014…an increase in AAS from 1 to 20 resulted in a predicted 112% increase in citation count from 2.6 to 5.5 citations per article…Our results suggest that altmetrics (or the online activity they measure), as well as complementing traditional measures of scholarly impact in ornithology such as citations, may also anticipate or even drive them.”


Altmetrics: Broadening Impact or Amplifying Voices?” by Sugimoto & Larivière

This exploratory paper (co-authored by Altmetric Advisory Board member Cassidy Sugimoto) suggests that it’s young female academics working in chemistry who stand to benefit the most from publishing Open Access: “Across all the OA journals, the female advantage is stronger with first- rather than last-authored positions, suggesting that these venues provide particular visibility for younger female academics on social media.”

“What makes papers visible on social media? An analysis of various document characteristics” by Zahedi et al

This STI 2017 conference paper seeks to understand if certain features of research are correlated with increased citations and engagement. The authors found some interesting themes: Mendeley readership is correlated with the number of references in a paper; blog coverage was generally low (2.28%), but news items and review articles were covered the most; and mainstream media coverage was highest for review articles, but still negligible–only 1.67% of review articles received that type of attention.

“Identifying scholars on Twitter: opening the path to the social media studies of science” by Costas, van Honk & Franssen

This presentation from the 4th Annual Altmetrics Conference (4:AM) introduces an innovative new approach to identifying the demographics for those tweeting about research, with a reported 94% accuracy level. Techniques used included matching Twitter name and location data to parts of institutional email addresses, self-identified organization name, and matching based on institutional country.

There were many more great studies done with our data–and not enough space here to recap them all! Here are the other OA studies we know about:

Other altmetrics research we liked this year

Want to do your own research on Altmetric’s data?

We now offer access to our data in three ways: access via Altmetric Explorer, access via our commercial API, and access (with completed data use agreement) to a very large, rich, machine-readable JSON file containing 8+ million records.

If you’d like to do research on our data, we’d love to hear from you–please do get in touch!

Curious about the research we’ve supported in the past? Check out our 2015 and 2016 research roundups.


* This year, we’ve decided only to feature Open Access research in our year-end round-up. The reasons for this are twofold: a) We want to encourage researchers to make their work OA, and, importantly, b) We can’t recommend any research we’re not able to read, due to paywalls!

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