University of Pretoria

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“There are many reasons for choosing the Altmetric Explorer, and for us, it was about successfully tracking institutions’ societal impact.”

Veliswa Tshetsha, senior coordinator for open scholarships

We spoke to Veliswa Tshetsha, the Senior Coordinator for Open Scholarships at the Scholarly Communications Unit at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She specializes in coordinating open scholarship activities, including open access, research data management, repository management, metadata issues, copyright and open access advice, and academic research impact services.

She is responsible for supporting researchers in achieving research impact and research assessments as well as measuring the academic impact of the university’s research outputs, which include publishing, dissemination, and promotion.


The University of Pretoria aims to support researchers in improving research impact and research assessments while measuring the academic impact of their research outputs. This includes publishing, dissemination, and promotion. It also strives to improve research visibility and the impact of researchers and the university’s global rankings. To evaluate research quality, the university library has used global bibliometric data sources such as Scopus and Web of Science to pull reports.


Although it was relatively easy to pull bibliometric data from Scopus, Web of Science, and other profiling tools, one of the biggest challenges for the university was pulling alternative metrics data such as policy, patents, news, tweets, blogs, and more. Before subscribing to Altmetric Explorer, their process was quite time-consuming, capturing publication-level metrics manually using an Excel spreadsheet.

Two other intertwined challenges needed attention: the ranking of the university due to inadequate research visibility and impact strategy, and the lack of monitoring tools to monitor and track the attention received by UP’s scholarly works. The monitoring tool would inform the university with data and suggest the best marketing strategies to improve the dissemination of research outputs.

“Before subscribing to Altmetric Explorer we used to capture publication level metrics manually using an Excel spreadsheet which was a time-consuming process.”


Keeping the above challenges in mind, the University of Pretoria set up a project aimed at enhancing the visibility and impact of its research output by integrating its institutional repository (DSpace) into the Altmetric Explorer.

To achieve this objective, the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (NAS) initiated the integration of the Altmetric Explorer with their research publications from DSpace. The Department of Library Services (DLS) and NAS worked together to manage and administer DSpace and integrate it with Explorer. With support from Michelle Herbert, the Engagement Manager at Altmetric, the process began.

Bringing other stakeholders on board

The DLS embarked on roadshows to advocate and raise awareness of the Altmetric Explorer and DSpace among various stakeholders, including the Department of Institutional Planning, the Department of Institutional Advancement, the Department of Research and Innovation, the Deputy Vice-Principal, Deputy Deans, and various faculties. Altmetric training sessions were also organized including webinars, live demos, and presentations, to educate stakeholders on the integration of Altmetric and DSpace.

Results of the Altmetric integration

The integration of the Altmetric Explorer with DSpace data enabled the tracking and collection of mentions from various sources, including news and blogs, policy and patents, academic sources, social media, and others. To date, the Explorer has tracked 69,631 outputs from the institutional repository. The Department of Library Services (DLS) produced shareable and detailed reports for individual researchers, departments, faculties, and the institution. Altmetric reports were used to support researchers and produce detailed reports for the National Research Foundation (NRF) rating process, faculty promotion and tenure, the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (NAS) quinquennial review and the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Other faculty use cases

  • The Faculty of Humanities included the shareable and detailed reports produced using Altmetric Explorer in their Quinquennial Review (QQR).
  • The EMS used the Explorer in the mock review/pre-submission grant review to prepare for the AACSB accreditation. The Deputy Dean requested Altmetric reports for EMS for the last five years until July 2022 to present an overview of the EMS’s research output and its wider impact.
  • The NAS used Altmetric Explorer to obtain data for the research outputs of the faculty, departments, and individual authors. Altmetric reports were also used to report on the impact of NAS research outputs for their quinquennial review, to align and monitor the effectiveness of the NAS integrated marketing and communication plan, for the rollout to departments for reporting and planning, and to assess the departmental level impact and areas of strengths. Shareable and detailed reports were created for the faculty, its departments, and individual researchers.

The uptake of Altmetric Explorer after live demos

By holding live demonstrations of the Explorer, we were able to see usage from the following departments:

  • The Department of Research and Innovation (DRI) to track, monitor and report on publicly funded research outputs.
  • The Department of Institutional Planning (DIP) measures uptake by faculties, benchmarking with other institutions to identify similar mentions, tracking performance indicators for faculties and the institution, and monitoring institutional data to assess its impact.
  • The Department of Institutional Advancement (DIA) monitors online activity surrounding academic research.

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