Altmetric Blog

Highlighting the needle in the haystack with the Altmetric Explorer

Guest Author, 26th July 2018

The following guest blog post was written by Sara Rouhi, Director of ​Engagement & Advocacy at Altmetric & Dimensions.

Whether you’re a researcher submitting a grant application, a tenure and promotion committee reviewing a dossier, or a communications officer looking to engage with the perfect online influencer to share your institution’s research, you’re ultimately looking for actionable insights.

You want to find that needle in the haystack that qualitatively demonstrates that the work has impacted a particular audience. And you’ll want to know how you can use that needle to weave reports and narratives that matter to you and your colleagues, based on your needs, roles, and goals.

In this post, I’ll lay out a brief case for how Altmetric Explorer can help you do just that.

The launch of Altmetric Explorer 2.0 last year (and of the more recent Explorer Highlights Tab and revamped UI release) can now make that needle shine amidst the hay of irrelevant engagement–all the @’s, likes, swipes and other noise from social media that don’t tell you anything about the influence of your research..

For any group of research outputs (journal articles, books, clinical trials, dataset, and more!), you can get at-a-glance insights into:

  • Who’s engaging the most (aka your top online influencers)
  • Which online platforms your work is being shared on, and how often it has been mentioned
  • Where in the world your research is being discussed
  • Your research’s most recent mentions
  • …and more! (Watch this video for a full rundown of what’s included in the Highlights Tab)

Beyond the high-level overview offered on the  Highlights Tab, you can drill deeper into other breakdowns of your data:

  • A full list of all the research outputs in your search set, ranked by Altmetric Attention Score and 10+ other sorting categories
  • Maps of your research’s influence in Facebook, Twitter, Policy, and News
  • A timeline of engagement with your research
  • A journal analytics tab that allows you to look at online engagement grouped by journal or online repository (e.g. ArXiv) that helps give a sense of relative efficacy of those publication venues in online engagement
  • A laser-precise search screen for EVERY mention, captured chronologically and refreshed nightly

So how can you make this data work for you?

Before you dive into this ocean of data, you have to orient yourself by asking a few important questions:

  1. Based on your career (as a researcher, librarian, department administrator, communications assistant, grants manager, etc), what goals do you have about online engagement with your research (or your institution’s research)? For example, a communications assistant might say, “I want to know if our press releases are actually changing social media behavior,” whereas a researcher might say, “I want to know who the online influencers are that can get my research read by more people.”
  2. Related: are your goals related to monitoring attention, amplifying or both?
  3. What platforms should you focus on, in order to achieve those goals? Not all platforms are relevant for everyone. Altmetric (in particular, Altmetric Engagement Manager Lily Troia) provides training and guidance on how to more easily parse platforms based on your needs.

From there, you can build a solid strategy around the insights that the Highlights Tab and Altmetric Explorer as a whole can uncover .

If you’re an Altmetric Explorer user who’s been using the Highlights Tab to find your needle in the haystack, tell us what you think! Tweet me at @RouhiRoo to share your #metricssuccess stories with the world! Or reach out via email at

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