Altmetric Blog

Altmetric “top” lists – two perspectives

Josh Clark, 11th July 2019

We speak to Jennifer Regala, Managing Editor of The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology, and Liz Allen, Director of MarCom & Strategic Development at Annual Reviews, about the addition of Altmetric top lists to their websites and how they have benefited their readers, authors, librarians and more.

A number of our publisher customers are focusing their audiences’ attention by highlighting their most talked about publications via a “top” Altmetric list. These lists are created using the Altmetric API along with a few lines of magic code and can appear in a variety of different ways on various parts of publishers’ sites. 

We recently spoke to Jennifer Regala, Managing Editor of The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology at American Society of Plant Biologists (ASBP) as well Liz Allen, Director of MarCom & Strategic Development at Annual Reviews, about their Altmetric top lists and how they have benefited not only their readers but also their authors, librarians and more …

ASPB, Jennifer Regala

Altmetric:  We’re always interested to hear how publishers are implementing Altmetric top article lists on their websites. We’ve noticed yours are updated on an annual basis. What inspired the decision to add this list and update it annually?

Jennifer:  The decision to add this list was inspired by a weekly social media venture of ours, started approximately two years ago.  Our journals’ social media accounts (both journals are on Facebook, plus we actively tweet from @PlantPhysiol and @ThePlantCell) all feature our top 5 Altmetric papers for each journal each week.  

Our authors, readership, social media followers, society members, and other important constituencies have all responded so favorably to this endeavor that we decided it would be a great recognition to write a blog post (and heavily feature that blog on our social media accounts) to highlight our top articles, by journal, for 2018. This “top 2018” approach allowed our top authors to get some well-deserved attention.  Furthermore, our editorial boards were able to see the articles that were getting the most interest over the course of an entire year.

Altmetric:  Can you share with us your aims for the Altmetric top articles list and what you hope your web site visitors (authors, librarians, readers) will take away from engaging with it?

Jennifer:  Based on the positive response we have received from analyzing and promoting Altmetric top articles, we hope:

·       That authors feel recognized and rewarded for excellent research that is widely cited and talked about in the plant biology community and beyond. Altmetric allows us here in the pubs department at ASPB to “touch” our authors with recognition for their important work.

·       That librarians use Altmetric to see the high level of engagement our articles enjoy. It is important to demonstrate to our subscribers that they are getting a wonderful value for top research that is among the best in the field of plant biology. 

·      That a reader will choose to read an article s/he might not have read that the Altmetric tool identifies as having a lot of value and “buzz.”

“Altmetric allows us here in the pubs department at ASPB to “touch” our authors with recognition for their important work.” – Jennifer Regala

Altmetric:  tell us about your relationship with altmetrics. How long you’ve been using the data at ASPB and what initially motivated the use of these new metrics?

Jennifer:  Here at ASPB, we have been using these Altmetric data for a number of years. Our initial motivation for using these new metrics was to demonstrate to our constituencies a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of how our articles are absorbed – something with more depth than just counting how many times an article is cited.

Altmetric: how are altmetrics data currently used by staff at ASPB and what do you personally like about the inclusion of Altmetric donuts alongside journal articles?

Jennifer:  We use these data on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis to learn how, when, where, and even why our articles are disseminated. Aside from the very aesthetically pleasing look of the Altmetric donut alongside each article, we believe that this tool is becoming a trusted scholarly publishing tool to ascertain the true impact of an article. The donut enables any user (author, reader, librarian, or otherwise) to see quickly and easily the interaction an article is getting. Also, internally here in our pubs department, we can see how fruitful our efforts are at promoting our authors’ important research.

“…we believe that this tool is becoming a trusted scholarly publishing tool to ascertain the true impact of an article” – Jennifer Regala

Altmetric:  Can you share any internal or external feedback that you have received about the Altmetric top articles list on your website?

Jennifer:  Internally, we believe that Altmetric is a very useful tool that provides us with immediate insight about an article. Altmetric has inspired us to try different efforts (social media, press releases, etc.) to promote our authors’ work.  Outside of ASPB, our authors are very appreciative when their articles are recognized in our “top” lists. From a subscriptions standpoint, it’s helpful to point to the Altmetric “top” lists to demonstrate why our articles are important to an institution’s plant biology community members.

Annual Reviews, Liz Allen

Altmetric:  It’s always great to hear from customers about new ways they are displaying Altmetric top lists of their publications. Can you tell us about the decision to add a ‘Top scoring reviews’ lists on your journal homepages?

Liz:  Our overall decision to add Altmetric badges was nuanced, and the choice of which journals to display the badges on was strategic. Annual Reviews is different from most academic publishers in that we’re an independent nonprofit and we don’t publish original research articles. Rather, we do one thing really well (and have done since 1932): we ask leading experts to synthesize the literature into a cohesive review article about a topic. 

We publish 50 journals in the life, biomedical, physical and social sciences and although the majority of articles are highly cited, not all articles are suited to the broader social conversation. Nonetheless, many journals do get discussed online and these five attract some healthy scores so we decided to showcase the Altmetric donuts on the following journal home pages:  The Annual Review of Public Health (OA), The Annual Review of Nutrition, The Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, The Annual Review of Psychology and The Annual Review of Medicine.

Altmetric:  What are your aims in adding the Altmetric top articles list and what do you hope visitors (authors, librarians, readers) to your web site will take away from engaging with it?

Liz:  While Impact Factor remains an important metric for our customers (librarians) in many markets, particularly in Asia, it’s no longer the only number that matters. The argument made by researchers, that it’s not where you publish (the journal) but what you publish (the article) is clearly a valid one. Many researchers enjoy using social, blogs and other channels to communicate with a broader audience about their research and get a kick out of joining and even shaping informed conversation. Providing our end-users with Altmetric donuts allows them to dig into the broader coverage of articles and see reach and impact for themselves. 

“Providing our end-users with Altmetric donuts allows them to dig into the broader coverage of articles and see reach and impact for themselves.” – Liz Allen

Altmetric:  How is the altmetrics data currently used by different departments at Annual Reviews?

Liz:  We use the data a couple of different ways. It can assist us if we want to know which journals are better known outside the scholarly community, so for example when applying for foundation grant funding for specific projects; it helps inform our social media outreach, we can and do amplify articles that are being picked up more broadly. 

Altmetric:  Are you often surprised by your articles that receive a higher amount of online attention? 

Liz:  You know, yes and no! In 2017, Annual Reviews launched a new digital science magazine called Knowable which attracts both a scholarly audience and those members of the public with a broad interest in science. It’s been fun to watch some Knowable stories trigger interest and discussion. For example, the story “What makes a tree, a tree? On one hand, yes, who doesn’t want to know the answer to that question and on the other, no, people are surely too busy to be curious about this topic. However, it  was a hit and we’ve enjoyed watching its rise to fame.  

Altmetric: Can you tell me what you see is the value of collating the online dialogue and discussion around a popular article and sharing it with your audience?

Liz:  Doing science isn’t easy. And neither is literature synthesis and being published. When our invited authors write for us, it can take them months of careful research before they are ready to send us their manuscript. We like to think that their final publication with us is the beginning of a conversation and Altmetric helps them to explore the influence of their work in a number of dimensions. One particular favorite feature for us is that it’s easy to see if and how their work influences policy, it’s helpful that this coverage is separated out.

“We like to think that their final publication with us is the beginning of a conversation and Altmetric helps them to explore the influence of their work in a  number of dimensions.” – Liz Allen

To learn more about the Altmetric top code or a demonstration of how our data and tools can benefit your organization, email us at info@altmetric.com and our team will be in touch to schedule a call.

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