So far in this researcher blog series, we’ve talked about how you can use altmetrics and Altmetric data to view, monitor and report on the online attention your research has attracted. The data can be used alongside traditional bibliometric indicators such as citation counts to see who has been sharing your work online, and what they’ve been saying about it. However, don’t forget that you can also use the free Altmetric tools to participate in wider academic conversations, and discover interesting new content and research communication channels.
You might see an Altmetric badge on:
a journal article page
an institutional repository page
an online CV/profile/website designed by a fellow researcher
An Altmetric details page can help you discover lots of interesting content, even if the research output in question isn’t one of your publications. When looking at a details page, you might ask:
who has shared this research output on social media? What else do they post about? Are they worth following and/or engaging with?
where is the Twitter attention for this article coming from? Why might there be lots of interest from a particular part of the world? Have lots of academics or science professionals shared the research, or is more of the attention from members of the general public?
who has blogged about this research output? What is their main research focus, and what sorts of topics do they normally post about? Is it worth continuing to follow their blog, to read future posts and learn about the research they discuss?
Has this research output been mentioned on YouTube? What other videos have been posted in this channel? Is it worth following the channel, so YouTube can recommend content I might be interested in based on this preference?
has this research output been mentioned in mainstream or specialist news sources? Does this news source regularly report on research from my academic discipline? Has this research been mentioned in a short space of time across multiple news sources, suggesting it might be a trending topic within this academic discipline?
An Altmetric details page can give you the answers to all these questions, depending on where the attention has come from. Looking at the details page for the article below as an example, we can see that this research has been mentioned in news sources, blogs, social media and YouTube. If you keep the questions above in mind when navigating this details page, you can gain a sense of the conversations that are happening around this piece of research, and discover a source of information that you may not have come across before.
You can use the Altmetric bookmarklet to view the full details page for any research output from a domain we are tracking. Don’t forget: if you find a research output that is of particular interest to you, you can sign up for an email alert, which will tell you when the research output has been mentioned, and will mean you won’t have to keep going back to the page to check for new mentions.
Discover other types of research output
Remember: Altmetric data is not just for journal articles. Companies such as Figshare have started issuing unique identifiers for datasets, slidesets, and software, while companies such as Dryad allow researchers to host their work online in free, open access spaces. This means you can view Altmetric details pages for different research outputs, even if the author hasn’t gone down the traditional publication route to make that research available. Using the bookmarklet on Figshare pages can help you understand who is sharing non-traditional research outputs online, and how this research is being disseminated in news, blogs, and other sources. For example, one researcher has uploaded a dataset to Figshare for their project entitled “Evolution of Popular Music: USA 1960-2010”. If you go to the Altmetric details page for the dataset, you can see that it has been mentioned on social media and in 3News, a mainstream news source from New Zealand. It’s useful to look at details pages for non-traditional research outputs to find out where they’re being hosted, how they’re being shared and what people are saying about them. You can then use this information to influence your own research dissemination practices.
Why is this important?
At Altmetric, we’re always keen to stress that the raw numbers are not enough, and that the data on details pages has to be fully auditable. This is because we think discovery is a crucial use case. It’s important to make use of the underlying data and click through to each individual mention of a paper, to get a sense of the conversation that is happening around the research and hopefully arrive at some interesting content that you maybe wouldn’t have seen otherwise. This way of looking at the data can be useful for researchers from all disciplines and career stages.
We hope this post has given you some ideas on how to approach the data from different angles, and how to tailor and isolate the data and sources you’re particularly interested. As always, feedback and comments are welcome!