Varied layers of attention: The Altmetric 500

The Altmetric 500 dataset has been put together by Kathryn Weber Boer, Technical Product Specialist at Digital Science.

Context is crucial to understanding and measuring attention, and that is the most important aspect of  Altmetric 500: a dataset that allows a direct look at the number of mentions per attention source, in order to shine a light at global engagement with research. The Altmetric 500 dataset gives insights into the types of attention that scientific articles and books have garnered across different platforms. It includes attention from news media and blogs, policy documents, YouTube, Wikipedia, StackExchange and patents, and from social media outlets including X (Twitter), Reddit and Facebook. In addition, the dataset reveals research that was not only highly mentioned overall, but also had broad attention across multiple areas of attention including policy sources, social media and scientific citations.

In doing so we hope to give readers a sense of which research gained traction on different public platforms, and how that might compare with the articles that resonated within the scholarly space. 

Customizable attention analysis

The Atmetric 500 covers 11 attention sources. These are:

  1. blog posts
  2. news articles
  3. scientific citations
  4. StackExchange posts
  5. patent application citations
  6. policy citations
  7. Wikipedia pages
  8. Facebook walls
  9. X (Twitter) profiles
  10. Subreddits
  11. breadth of attention.

For each of these attention sources, the research output with the most mentions were identified in 53 categories across four areas: 

  1. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  2. Field of Research
  3. Geographic region
  4. And, a top overall category

With this approach, we have highlighted the most influential output in 2023 (for those published from December 2022 to December 2023)–close to 500 research outputs. 

Why do these analyses?

The Altmetric 500 aims to explore the different meanings of “attention” to research. It is not a definitive list of the “best” papers published in 2023 but rather a conversation starter about the varying impact of and engagement with research across different platforms.

Initial observations

An interesting feature of the attention to research is that specific research outputs often gain attention in one channel, whilst being barely acknowledged in another attention source (so for example, shared a lot on X/Twitter, but not at all mentioned in the mainstream media). This holds true for the 2023 list, in general, and it was interesting to note that the publications with the most attention in public engagement channels were not necessarily those that achieved a relatively high academic citation count.

Notable examples

The kind of information drawn from having a deeper look at attention include  five publications notable for having garnered attention both by policy organizations and in scientific citation, and five with attention from both policy makers and news/blog writers.

Next steps

In the coming months, various aspects of this dataset will be explored. The diversity of attention sources makes it an interesting dataset, and its connection to Altmetric on GBQ will allow for sortable and aggregatable results by publisher, funder, university, and author. This Altmetric 500 dataset could be a step in providing a deeper insight into the multifaceted impact of research, the diverse ways in which scientific work resonates with varied audiences, and a better understanding into what attention means.

Explore the dataset yourself, or if you want to learn more about Altmetric, contact our team.