Welcome to the Altmetric Top 100 2016! We’ve dug down deep into the Altmetric database to find out which research caught the attention of a broader audience this year.
The data and the Altmetric Attention Score (displayed in the donut visualisation alongside each article) were captured on the 15th of November. We’ve then matched authors and affiliations, assigned each paper to a subject category, and investigated to see whether or not each article was made available open access. You can access the original data here, and here’s an overview of all the attention we found for these 100 articles:
A number of key themes really stood out for us this year. One was the amount of attention going to research and studies that were published in response to the outbreak of the Zika virus. There were also several papers that explored the impacts of technology on society, an increased focus on public health (and body mass trends in particular) and a number that looked at drug-related issues.
The trend towards making content openly available continued this year, with 30 articles in the list published under a gold Open Access license - meaning they’ll always be freely accessible.
This year we’ve also included where a publisher has made an article free to view for a limited or unspecified period of time; 17 articles in the list fall into this category.
The commitment to enable science to advance as quickly as possible to help find a cure for the Zika virus meant that articles in journals such as Nature, NEJM and The Lancet, which do not normally offer an Open Access option, have been made available for anyone to access.
A news story on one Altmetric details page also highlighted NASA’s announcement that it was making most of its publicly funded studies free to read online - further evidence of enabling a broader audience to read and engage with research.
Also interesting is the appearance of early reports from preprint servers PeerJ Preprints & bioRxiv. The bioRxiv report documents an increased risk of certain cancers in rats following prolonged exposure to mobile phones, while the PeerJ submission looked at gender differences in contributions to open source software. Both manuscripts generated large amounts of press and social media attention reflecting widespread interest, despite the fact that they have not yet been peer-reviewed.
In the news
The articles in this year’s Top 100 were featured in over 23,000 news stories from mainstream media outlets tracked by Altmetric.
The second paper in the overall list—“Medical error — the third leading cause of death in the US" received the most news coverage, with mentions of the paper appearing in over 600 news stories.
Health issues, space discovery and environmental concerns also drew the attention of journalists. Here’s how attention broke down by subject area across the list:
It’s some of the more controversial papers that really drove engagement amongst a broader audience this year - a reflection of what we’ve seen playing out in democracies across the world in the last few months.
Top amongst Tweeted papers was the Obama communication on health care reform, published in JAMA. "Time to rethink your dental insurance”, commented one Twitter user.
Other studies that were a hit amongst a broader audience included “Rejection of rejection: a novel approach to overcoming barriers to publication”, which was published in the BMJ and received with delight by researchers around the world:
And articles that challenged current thinking; specifically the NEJM Editorial on Data Sharing, where the authors liken some researchers who use other’s data to “research parasites”; the (later retracted) Biomechanical Characteristics of Hand Coordination study that referenced ‘the creator’ throughout, and the research that highlighted a huge Gender Bias in Open Source coding.
Researchers from over 440 institutions contributed to the papers that made up the Top 100 list year, with authors split across 42 countries.
Harvard, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, King’s College London and MIT featured prominently - each with authors contributing to at least 6 papers.
Altmetric would like to thank to the following sources for images:
- 1. Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project
- 3. SXS Lensing Project
- 4. Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)
- 5. Bonita Suraputra (https://www.flickr.com/photos/21185968@N00/3532940803)
- 6. Gilles San Martin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sanmartin/4799486544)
- 7. The Health Inequality Project (https://healthinequality.org)
- 9. Donar Reiskoffer
- 10. F. Falchi et al., Light Pollution Atlas, ISTIL
- 13. Nature
- 21. CDC
- 37. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
- 39. ESO/M. Kornmesser
- 41. Allen Nutman/Nature
- 45. ESO/M. Kornmesser
- 48. Matthew Glasser, Ph.D., and David Van Essen, Ph.D., Washington University
- 54. Sarah C. Ogden
- 58. S. McMahon, Yale
- 60. Karen Neoh (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kneoh/11209550093)
37. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center