How Altmetric badges provide visual insights into attention

So you think you know Altmetric badges? These distinctive, colourful donuts are a common sight across many research publications today. Developed to provide an understanding of attention beyond the traditional bibliometrics, the Altmetric badges have become an important tool for publishers, institutions and researchers alike. They unveil the layers of research attention across platforms ranging from news and blogs to social media. 

Before Altmetric and its colourful badges, or the Altmetric donuts, were born, researchers often had to wait months or years for metrics to know how much attention their research output had garnered. And the measure of this attention was usually limited to citations and attention within the academic circles. Today, Altmetric badges, which can be seen alongside thousands of journal articles, institutional and preprint repository pages, provide real-time updates on attention far beyond academic citations.  

The badges, or ‘donuts’ as they are sometimes known, capture metrics from blogs, posts on X (tweets), news reports, policy and patent documents, academic sources and more. These ‘mentions’ combine to contribute to the Altmetric Attention Score – a weighted count of the attention an item has received, designed to give an at-a-glance indicator of its reach and influence. And because they update in real time, there are no delays in finding out who is talking about a particular piece of research and where the conversation is taking place. 

Broadening publisher engagement: Altmetric for author support and beyond

“We are committed to providing a wide range of impact metrics about our publications beyond citations and the Impact Factor. We believe Altmetric plays an important role in this.” Andri Johnston, Cambridge University Press (Source:

Many publishers use Altmetric badges to support authors by helping showcase the wider influence of their research output across different platforms thanks to the instantly recognizable visualization. 

This research output has received attention from a range of sources. Whereas this one is attracting citations from predominantly news, and policy

In addition, publishers are using Altmetric more broadly, in search results, on author profile pages, when viewing articles and some even include the badge when users save articles to their personalised pages or accounts on their sites. For example, Wiley includes Altmetric in author service information and it is prominent in their infographic about journal and article metrics and Taylor & Francis provides information about Altmetrics as an editor resource

In the January 2024 CEO’s letter, MDPI CEO Stefan Tochev underlined the important role Altmetric plays. “At MDPI, we are committed to providing our authors with the essential tools to publish, promote, and track their research, “ he wrote. “Our collaboration integrates …[the] Altmetric tool, offering us and our authors the ability to track a variety of sources that monitor and report attention surrounding publications.” The utility of Altmetric for publishers, however, goes beyond just supporting authors. It helps publishers identify the nature of this attention, the sources, and the platforms it originates from. The Journal of Consumer Research provides a glimpse into how publishers are tapping into the uses of Altmetric in their blog post Are We Getting Attention?

Showcasing attention: Altmetric badges on institutional and individual researcher webpages

“We wanted researchers to easily see who is attracted by their research.”- Oliver Renn, Lecturer at the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zürich (Source:

For institutions and researchers having quick access to the information gleaned from the Altmetric badges are useful for putting together grant applications, tenure submissions, website biographies and more. “Altmetric data can be used to demonstrate the attention and impact of your research, for example, in grant applications, CVs, promotion applications, etc.,” states the University of Dundee LibGuides.

Bethanne Wilson Director of Journal Business and Operations at the non-profit Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) says that, “We like to support our authors as well as we can, and one way we can do that is by helping them promote their works,” she explains. “Having more detailed metrics is very useful for this, and the Altmetric badges allow authors to show all the online attention their paper has received at a glance.” (Source:

The Smithsonian Research Online web page (see screen grab below) gives a clear illustration of how institutions can showcase the attention their researchers receive.

This kind of information can also be accessed and displayed by individual researchers, and having quick access to this information is helpful and convenient. Knowing who is talking about their research allows for researchers to respond in real time on the platform where research is discussed, and also provides useful contacts to follow up with for potential collaborations.  Moreover, Altmetric badges on the personal webpage or publications list allows visitors to be able to click on the donuts to access the full Altmetric Details Page, where they can explore all of the original online mentions and shares of the work. 

Here below are two examples of researchers who use the Altmetric badges on their personal webpages.

Webpage, Steve Davis, Associate Professor, Earth System Science.Website, Marine Biologist, James Grecian.

The Altmetric badges have been used and loved by researchers for over a decade and continue to provide value to publishers and researchers alike. In a recent LinkedIn post by Pitch Science, a science communication and digital marketing consultancy helping scientists, research institutes, not-for-profits, and other science brands communicate their work to the public, stated that, “Altmetric badges are a great way to show the online attention a piece of research is receiving. And it’s not just academic journals who can use Altmetric badges. It’s actually free and easy for researchers to embed their publications’ Altmetric badges into their personal websites.“

For more information about Altmetric badges and how they can be used to interpret and leverage data, we welcome you to sign up and watch a recently held on-demand webinar.
If you want more general information about Altmetric, don’t hesitate to contact the Altmetric team.