Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Altmetrics: Home

"Altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship." according to


Image result for altmetrics graphics

Background Information

What are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics expand our view of what impact looks like, but also of what’s making the impact. This matters because expressions of scholarship are becoming more diverse.


Mental Status imageDefined

Altmetrics let us measure and monitor the reach and impact of scholarship and research through online interactions. Altmetrics stands for "alternative metrics." The "alternative" part references traditional measurements of academic success such as citation counts, journal prestige (impact factor), and author H-index. Altmetrics are meant to compliment, not totally replace, these traditional measures.

Supporters of the altmetrics movement believe that doing so will give a more complete picture of how research and scholarship is used.

Simply, altmetrics are metrics beyond traditional citations. 

Why they matterGroups image

There is increasing understanding that scholarly research has moved beyond the printed page and that traditional measures of impact are inadequate. Citations are only a small part of the scholarly ecosystem and only represent one type of impact. Other media types of increasing importance such as data, tools, software, websites, videos, etc. produced for or during the research process may be just as, or more, important than the articles that accompany them.

Since most research, including journal articles, are now electronic and networked we can track how many times they are accessed, used, and shared. These numbers provide a more complete picture of the reach and impact of research and scholarship; one that goes beyond citations in peer-reviewed publications.

Active Directory imageHow they work

You probably already know that nearly everything on the internet is tracked. What you click can be used to inform website design, serve targeted adds, or as a simple measure of popularity. 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?

Confused imageAltmetrics vs. Altmetric

Altmetric's trademark donut.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. Digital Repository @ Iowa State University (DR@ISU) also uses Almetric badges which you can find on any deposited journal article with a DOI.

Reference Librarian

Tom Melvin's picture
Tom Melvin

Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Material Science, Marine Science & Policy, Mechnical Engineering

Ask the Library