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Measuring and Increasing Your Research Impact

Engineering Librarian & CAPLA Liaison

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Paula C Johnson
Main Library A403


While metrics like the h-index, citation counts, and the impact factor of journals demonstrate the influence of research in the academic realm, altmetrics can provide a means of showing the more immediate impact of work in social media.

Altmetrics include social media activity (tweets, likes, blog mentions, etc.), coverage in media outlets, and inclusion in policy documents or scholarly commentary. It can also be inclusion of an article in collections such as Mendely, Connotea or CiteULike. Altmetrics are considered in tenure and promotion decisions variably; check with your department for guidance on best practices.

Alternative metric data can be collated into four buckets*: 
- Social Activity (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Google+ etc.)
- Scholarly Activity (e.g., Mendeley and Citeulike).
- Scholarly Commentary (blogs, Wikipedia, F1000 Prime, Pubpeer, etc.)
- Mass media

* as defined by Snowball Metrics

Social media has affected the lifecycle of scholarly outputs


 Images from the University of British Columbia, UBC Library, "Building Your Academic Profile"

Some of the major publishers are beginning to offer altmetrics on their sites. For example, IEEE includes article level metrics. See a sample article's altmetrics.

Nature is another example of a publication that offers article level metrics, including Altmetric badge visualizations.

PLoS One has always included altmetric data, which include "Discussed" - on twitter, facebook or comments, among other metrics. See the full coverage here

Major Commercial Altmetric Providers

As mentioned above, the company Altmetric aggregates altmetric data and supplied it to various entities. They offer services directly to researchers, as well.

Impact Story will let you do a free trial, which could be useful if you were interested in collecting altmetric data to be submitted with a portfolio, for example.

And finally, Plum Analytics. "The [founders] could see that over the last two decades how people use research and communicate about research had completely changed. People often learn about and find research though their social media network. They access research through a myriad of sites including open access repositories. Long gone are the days where the only access to research was through a printed journal, yet, the statistics to capture the impact of research had not changed to reflect this. The research community still relies on Citation Counts and Journal Impact Factor to determine the most important and valued research even though those are lagging indicators in a world where timeliness is important." Plum™ Analytics was founded in 2012, and in 2014  EBSCO Information Services acquired it.