Altmetric Blog

Altmetrics in action: using Altmetric data to enrich apps, plugins and publication pages

Fran Davies, 25th November 2015

The purpose of this blog series has been to help researchers understand the advantages of using Altmetric data to monitor and showcase the conversations around their work. We’ve looked at examples of how data-savvy researchers have used the data to enrich their online presence, and have also posted some more theoretical pieces on the Altmetric score and the potential for tracking non-traditional research outputs.

The purpose of this final post is to provide some examples of how people have used the Altmetric API and badges to add functionality to web applications and institution-level pages. An API, or “application programming interface” is a set of commands that allows different databases to talk to each other. Altmetric data is stored in different places, so we need to be able to access these data stores simultaneously to generate and continually update the Altmetric donut for a research output. For example, the Altmetric donut and details pages query the API for the unique identifier of the research output, the journal it was published in, and the mentions we’ve picked up for it from our list of all our tracked sources. However, it is possible to query an API for the mentions from some sources, and display only the data you need.

The screenshot below shows a page from, a site that allows users to search keywords to find recently-published life sciences papers. You can then “follow” combinations of key terms to create a personalised news stream, and order the results of your search by “popularity”. The popularity filter queries the Altmetric API for the number of tweets and Mendeley readers associated with the papers in the search results, and uses these metrics to rank the papers in descending order. You can see the counts by looking at the Twitter and Mendeley logos on the right hand side of the image.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 15.09.33

Richard Smith developed the app and pulled the Altmetric data using a free API key. Richard said:

“With so many life science papers now being published (around 20,000 each week) it’s essential to provide filters to help identify what’s important. Altmetrics are one way to do this – to help scientists find the papers in their field that are being talked about most on Twitter. Altmetrics provide an important alternative to journal impact which is a more common way for scientists to filter papers”.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 15.36.17

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 15.42.18

The screenshot on the left is from a plugin for Open Journal Systems. Rommel Gutierrez has used the API to pull mention counts for Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Google +, Mendeley and CiteULike, and has displayed them with downloads, views and Scopus data. Rommel wrote some PHP code to request data for a specific DOI and export it as JSON. He then used JavaScript to display the mention counts on the metrics tab. This work is part of Rommel’s engineering degree thesis, which focuses on how we can use social media metrics for data enrichment. This metrics tab is a great example of how altmetrics can be combined with usage stats and bibliometric data to create a multi-faceted picture of how  a research output has been received. Rommel said he found the Altmetric API particularly useful for this task, because he could pull counts from several social media networks at once, instead of having to go through each network one by one to get the counts. He also said it’s great that the metrics update in “real time”, so you can monitor the progress of an article.

The final image shows a publications page from the Smithsonian Libraries. Alvin Hutchinson used the Altmetric badge embed code (which is available here) to query the API for the data associared with each article DOI, and display the badge to the left of the corresponding citation. Here’s the specific line of code used:

This line of code <div id=”show_metric” class=’altmetric-embed’ data-badge-type=’donut’ data-badge-popover=’left’data-hide-no-mentions=’true’ data-doi=”#doi#”></div>”

The page also includes a checkbox which you can use to “show” or “hide” the Altmetric data. The “data-hide-no-mentions=’true” section of the code means the badge will only display for the outputs that have mentions. Alvin said “Those who are interested in public support for the research at an institution can see practical results by looking at social media and mass media attention paid to a research output and (with luck) leverage that attention into greater support.”

These examples clearly demonstrate that altmetrics are not just tools for monitoring the conversations around your research, and that there is more to the data than the Altmetric donut. With a bit of technical expertise, you can use the Altmetric API to customise the data and use it to build helpful applications that can be used by anyone with an interest in academic research. 

We hope this blog series has provided an informative insight into how Altmetric data is collected and scored, and how researchers can use it to identify and tell interesting stories about their research. We’ve really enjoyed writing it and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading it! We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has agreed to have their projects and profiles included in the posts as examples of how the data can be integrated into researcher workflows. For more tips on how to effectively communicate your research online, please see this guide. Thanks for reading! 

7 Responses to “Altmetrics in action: using Altmetric data to enrich apps, plugins and publication pages”

InvestigaUNED (@InvestigaUNED)
November 25, 2015 at 12:00 am

Altmetrics in action: using Altmetric data to enrich apps, plugins and publication pages

Altmetric (@altmetric)
November 25, 2015 at 12:00 am

How have people used @Altmetric's API & badges to add functionality to web apps & institutional pages?: #altmetrics

Stacy Konkiel (@skonkiel)
November 25, 2015 at 12:00 am

Awesome examples of how to use @altmetric's API from @nowomics @pkp @smithsonian #altmetrics

November 25, 2015 at 12:00 am RT skonkiel: Awesome examples of how to use altmetric's API from nowomics pkp smithsonian…

Digital Science (@digitalsci)
November 25, 2015 at 12:00 am

#Altmetrics in action: using @Altmetric data to enrich apps, plugins and publication pages.

Jean Peccoud (@peccoud)
November 26, 2015 at 12:00 am

[@altmetric blog] Altmetrics in action: using Altmetric data to enrich apps, plugins and publication pages

November 26, 2015 at 12:00 am

How to pull through @Altmetric data to enrich webpages w. valuable pubs #SoMe info #MedComms #pubplan #altmetrics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *