Altmetric Blog

Altmetric-supported research: 2016 in review

Stacy Konkiel, 28th December 2016

In 2016, researchers worldwide used Altmetric data to make discoveries in the field of altmetrics. In this post, I’ll share some of our favorite Altmetric-backed studies, as well as other research that we think advances the field overall.

“How to normalize Twitter counts? A first attempt based on journals in the Twitter Index” by Bornmann & Haunschild

Many readers of this blog will likely already know that normalization is recommended for bibliometrics (i.e. placing citation counts in context by comparing a number against the performance of other outputs in a particular field, country of origin, or other characteristics). This study attempts to do the same for a type of altmetrics (Twitter counts), placing research’s Twitter counts on a 0-100 “Twitter percentile” spectrum.

From the paper: “The results point out that the TP can validly be used particularly in biomedical and health sciences, life and earth sciences, mathematics and computer science, as well as physical sciences and engineering…The results show that Denmark, Finland, and Norway are the countries with the most tweeted papers (measured by TP).”

“Increasing our understanding of altmetrics: Identifying factors that are driving both citation and altmetric counts” by Didegah, Bowman & Holmberg

This iConference presentation found that the number of collaborators on a paper, the paper’s associated journal impact factor, and authors’ affiliation with high-profile institutions do not correlate with higher altmetric counts, contrary to what’s historically been observed for citation counts. International collaborations, open access, and field all have correlations with higher altmetric counts.

“How many scientific papers are mentioned in policy-related documents? An empirical investigation using Web of Science and Altmetric data” by Haunschild & Bornmann

This preprint includes an initial analysis of the extent to which research is cited in public policy documents, using Altmetric data. The authors found that citations to research in public policy is still relatively rare (fewer than 0.5% of articles are cited in policy sources that Altmetric tracks).

“Automated Twitter accounts in scholarly communication: Do bots threaten the validity of tweets as impact measures?” by Haustein, Bowman, Holmberg, Tsou, Sugimoto & Larivière

This study (journal version here) shares preliminary findings that suggest that Twitter bots are high-volume, indiscriminate tweeters of research outputs, having obvious implications for the interpretation of altmetrics’ meanings.

“Unpacking Altmetric Donuts: Content Analysis of Tweets to Scholarly Journal Articles” by Mine


This poster, presented at the 3rd Altmetrics (3:AM) Conference, described a pilot study that sought to understand who is tweeting about research, what they are saying, and whether the content of tweets about research is related to a research output’s Altmetric Attention Score. Preliminary results suggest that members of the public tweet about highly popular research more often than scientists do.

“Integrating context in Twitter metrics: preliminary investigation on the possibilities of hashtags as an altmetric resource” by van Honk and Costas

This Altmetrics16 conference presentation suggests that there is a positive association between the presence of many (5+) Twitter hashtags when sharing research and the number of blogposts, news articles, and Mendeley bookmarks that research receives.

Other studies that used our data (and that we also enjoyed reading!) include:

Overall, Altmetric is proud to have supported more than 20 studies in 2016, including two dissertations! Many of these studies are scheduled to be formally published in 2017.

Other notable altmetrics research published in 2016

A number of other studies were published in 2016 that we think move knowledge forward in the area of altmetrics.

Want to do your own research on Altmetric’s data?

We now offer access to our data in three ways: access via Altmetric Explorer, access via our commercial API, and access (with completed data use agreement) to a very large, rich, machine-readable JSON file containing 7+ million records.

If you’d like to do research on our data, we’d love to hear from you–please do get in touch!

Curious about the research we’ve supported in the past? Check out our 2015 roundup.

2 Responses to “Altmetric-supported research: 2016 in review”

Javier Santovenia Diaz
December 29, 2016 at 12:00 am

I suggest to my students not to forget the relationship of altmetrics with traditional metric techniques. Because I consider that they complement (each other according to the research contexts of empirical research). That is, interdisciplinary studies.

Javier Santovenia Diaz
December 29, 2016 at 12:00 am

Twitter is a social web tool that offers a minimum of errors in the processes of global data interpretation.

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