How Altmetric has increased policy tracking in 2022

Laura Bushell
a world map with certain countries filled in purple shades

Policy tracking in Altmetric 

If you care about the real-world impact of a piece of research, a reference in a report by the World Health Organisation or an African Union proceedings is a gold mine. Altmetric tracks policy sources that range from UN organizations to small local think tanks. We are constantly adding new sources to our tracking. Since the beginning of 2020 our policy database has grown from 83 major sources and 23 countries up to 514 sources from 60 countries at the time of this writing – and counting!

How new sources are added

In order to add a new policy source a developer writes a custom scraper that retrieves all of the relevant PDFs or HTML documents from a location like the World Health Organisation’s publications list. From there, we extract the full text and key metadata from the document and search for links and publication identifiers that we can match with articles, books, data sets, and other research outputs. Finally, since many policy reports contain full reference lists (and not necessarily links or identifiers), Altmetric tries to match references with article metadata from Crossref. Our goal is to accurately match as many references as we can from policy documents.

Our ever-expanding list of policy sources

Over the past year, Altmetric has focused heavily on growing our policy database in a way that emphasizes global coverage.

In the past few years, we have built our sources base and now we cover roughly 30% of the world’s countries, collecting attention from over 514 distinct policy sources. 

We have expanded our base to cover sources from the USA, Canada, and Australia and in 2022, we have added our first policy source in Ukraine with the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR), as well as welcoming the Government of Greenland to our policy coverage.

This and other efforts have greatly improved our global policy coverage but there is still more ground to cover. Below is the map of Altmetric’s policy attention at the beginning of 2020:

a world map with certain countries filled in purple shades

This is the map today (January 2023):

a world map with certain countries filled in purple shades

Improving our global policy coverage is an ongoing priority at Altmetric. Stay tuned for more updates in 2023.