Altmetric Blog

Digging into the (feedback) data

Cat Williams, 12th October 2016

Here at Altmetric, we speak to a lot of publishers, and whilst they each have their own particular use case, there are two questions that often come up:

  1. What do authors think of the data Altmetric provides?
  2. How can we help get more attention for our content?

In this blog post I’m going to look at a few recent surveys, studies and examples that go some way to addressing these questions.


What do authors think of the data Altmetric provides?

The answer to this question seems to evolve over time – and the response from authors is definitely something we make a priority of in the office.

Naturally, some authors, when shown a new ‘metric’ around their work, are quick to question it. They’re keen to understand where the data comes from, what our Altmetric Attention Score means, and how they can report any ‘missed mentions’ to us.

Through our website, educational materials and responsive support team we aim to help answer these questions. We’re pleased to say that on the whole, most researchers seem to have a positive experience of using Altmetric:

Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 12.06.58






The more I learn about the different ways to use Altmetric, the more I like it” – researcher feedback via our support desk


Let’s look at the numbers

Interested to get some feedback on our details pages (the collated record of attention for each item), we’ve recently been running a survey that asks visitors a few short questions:

  1. Did you find this page useful?
  2. Who are you? (the author, a researcher, the publisher. etc?)
  3. Is there anything we could do better?

The results have been interesting and it’s been great for us to get some quick feedback on how the detail pages are received: or the 782 people who have responded to the survey so far, nearly 89% say they have found the data provided there useful. Just over 50% of those respondents were the authors of the paper the details page related to, 31.5% were other researchers, and about 6.5% were a publisher or institutional admin (librarian, research office etc). The rest categorised themselves as other.

So, what does this tell us? 1) That the majority of visitors to the page do find it useful, and 2) That, for now at least, researchers appear to be most interested in checking out the altmetrics for their own work (which is a great start – they can use the data for all kinds of things!)

In response that what we could do better, many respondents replied with requests for new attention sources that Altmetric could consider tracking, and many mentioned that they would like to see further usage stats for their work.

All of this sends a very clear message: researchers increasingly want to get a better understanding of what engagement their work is receiving, and why.


How can we help get more attention for our content?

With thousands upon thousands of articles and other research outputs being published each year, getting your content noticed is an increasing challenge for publishers. The good news is that altmetrics can help!

From providing examples of best practice that can inform outreach strategy to providing a measure of the effectiveness of promotional efforts, Altmetric data offers a new level of audience insight that was previously difficult to capture.

A recent study, presented at the Altmetrics16 workshop, looked at the relationship between Twitter presence and altmetrics counts of SciELO Brazil Journals. The study concluded that articles published in the 28 journals that had their own active Twitter accounts recevied, on average, a higher amount of attention overall:

“The proportions of papers with at least one mention in Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news or at least a Wikipedia citation are (at least by the factor of 1,5) higher for those publications in journals with a Twitter account that those from journals without a presence in Twitter.”

Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 12.10.29We’ve seen some other good examples of publishers using altmetrics to drive the promotion their content in effective and interesting ways:

A good place to start is by looking at the Altmetric data for other articles published in peer or competitor journals: where are they getting attention? Are they engaging the audiences you want to reach? You can do this by clicking on the donut badges on many publisher article pages.

Take a look at the details pages of individual articles, datasets, books or chapters to determine if there are key influencers (perhaps bloggers, or key opinion leaders on Twitter) who you might be able to reach out to, with the aim of a) making them aware of your content and b) getting them to help raise its visibility.

Social media doesn’t need to be time-consuming: get yourself set up with a free tool like hootsuite, and schedule some tweets to go out Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 12.11.35through the week. There are some great tips in this webinar on how other journals have used these channels really effectively.

Similarly, chat to the press team at your publisher to make sure they know of any niche outlets in your field, and make them aware early of any upcoming publications that are likely to be of interest to a wider audience.

Don’t forget to encourage your authors to help out too! You might want to think about including a link to any author resources or guides to help them promote their own work in your last emails to them (check out this great example on the Wiley site).

And lastly, don’t forget to measure the outcomes of any promotional or outreach activities you try! Capture the Altmetric data for the items you’re promoting before and after – this will help you determine what’s worked and what hasn’t, and to move things further in the right direction!

Leave a Reply

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