Direct links to articles, links to news coverage, or mentions within text: online citation formats generally aren’t very consistent. Although bloggers who use the Research Blogging citation system cite articles in a specific manner, no such standardised system exists for mainstream news media. A large number of science news reports don’t even include links to the original papers that are mentioned, which creates a problem for measuring alt-metrics. Up until now, Altmetric has needed to see a direct link to an article in order to count a “mention”, so the absence of links in news reports meant that lot of online attention was missed.
Introducing a new way to track online attention in mainstream news media
To get around the issue of inconsistent linking we’ve developed a special news tracking mechanism which analyses the content of news articles. This news tracker picks up important bits of information like the journal title and article author name, performs a specific literature search, and then accurately matches journal articles with their respective news reports. Now, Altmetric’s view of papers mentioned in mainstream news media is broader, and our depiction of news coverage volume has been improved.
News tracker in action
To see the news tracker in action, take a look at this FOX News online report of a Nature paper called “Genetic identification of C fibres that detect massage-like stroking of hairy skin in vivo” (which we talked about in last week’s Interactions post). The FOX News article contains a few links, but none of these direct to the actual research paper. In order to match the news report to the original article, some key elements had to be extracted from the text, namely the journal title (Nature) and the name of an author (David Anderson) – these are shown as the red highlights in the image on the left.
As another example, if you take a look at the news tab in the Altmetric details for the article “Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation” (published in Current Biology), you’ll notice that a large number of news reports that don’t link directly to the original article have now been picked up, providing a fuller representation of the article’s news coverage.