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Alternative Citation Metrics

This guide is meant to inform scholars, students and librarians about developments in alternative citation metrics, or Altmetrics, as it is commonly referred.


This guide was created using guides from Impact Story, University of Maryland, Iowa State University and North Carolina State University.

Types of Altmetrics

Some example altmetrics that your different research outputs might receive include:

Articles, Preprints, Working papers, Technical reports

  • Citations: Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed Central, and Google Scholar citations; citations in policy documents
  • Bookmarks: scholarly bookmarks on Mendeley & CiteULike; bookmarks by the public on Delicious & Pinboard; Twitter favorites
  • Discussion: Twitter mentions, Facebook wall posts; newspaper articles, videos, and podcasts; mentions on scholarly blog networks like ResearchBlogging
  • Shares: Twitter mentions, Facebook shares
  • Views: Pageview & download statistics from the journal website or repository where you've archived your paper

Books & book chapters

  • Citations: Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar citations; Google Book citations
  • WorldCat holdings: the number of libraries worldwide that have purchased your book
  • Views: Pageview & download statistics from your publisher's website or the repository where you've archived your book/chapter.
  • Ratings: and Goodreads ratings


  • Citations: Data Citation Index citations
  • Views: views and downloads from Figshare, Zenodo, Dryad, ICPSR, or other subject or institutional repositories
  • Reuse: GitHub forks


  • Citations: Google Scholar citations
  • Downloads: download statistics from GitHub, Bitbucket, Sourceforge, or other institutional or subject repository
  • Adaptations: GitHub forks, Bitbucket clones
  • Collaborators: GitHub collaborators
  • Discussion: GitHub gists, mentions on Twitter, Figshare comments


  • Views: views and downloads on Figshare, Zenodo, or other institutional or subject repository


  • Views, likes, comments and downloads on Slideshare, Speakerdeck, and Figshare
  • Shares: Slideshare embeds on other websites; mentions on Twitter, Facebook shares, LinkedIn shares


  • Views: Youtube, Vimeo, and Figshare views
  • Likes/Dislikes: Youtube likes and dislikes; Vimeo likes; comments, shares

Limitations of Traditional Impact Measures

Professor Pádraig Cunningham of UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics outlines h-index calculation and why it is not a usable metric for early career researchers 

What are Alternative Metrics or Altmetrics?

Altmetrics are statistics sourced from the social Web that can be used to help you understand the many ways that your work has had an impact with other scholars, the public, policy makers, practitioners, and more.

They are useful supplementary measures of impact, best used in tandem with traditional measures like citation counts. Together, the two types of metrics can illustrate the full impact of your work.

 How they work

Altmetrics uses this ability to track interaction with online items as a way of measuring research impact and reach.

Altmetrics can answer questions such as:

  • How many times was it downloaded?
  • How many times was it shared? (on Facebook, on Twitter, etc.)
  • Was it covered by any news agencies?
  • Are other researchers commenting on it?
  • Which countries are looking at my research?

Altmetrics vs. Altmetric

Confusingly there is a company named Altmetric which provides and collects altmetrics for journals and articles. Many large publishers have contracts with this company so you will see their trademark Altmetric donut (see right) in many places. There are also  Almetric badges which you can find on any deposited journal article with a DOI.

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