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Using Research Indicators

This guide provides information about indicators that can be used as a measure of research performance

What are altmetrics?

Alternative metrics, also known as Altmetrics are types of metrics used to measure research impact outside traditional scholarly impacts such as citation counts and journal impact. 

Altmetrics measures uses of both traditional scholarly communication as well as non-traditional sources such as datasets, programming codes, poster presentations, software, performances, exhibitions etc. It can include:

  • Shares on social media - e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit
  • Shares on professional & research networks - e.g. Mendeley, LinkedIn, SSRN
  • Article use - e.g. downloads, links, saves, bookmarks, favourites, likes
  • Mass media mentions - e.g. news reports, Wikipedia mentions, policy documents
  • Reuse - e.g. adaptions, derivatives, forks
  • Reviews -  e.g. comments, ratings, recommendations
  • Followers - e.g. subscribers, watchers, readers
  • Attendance - e.g. door counts, online registrations
  • Sales data - e.g. book sales, library holdings

Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages Disadvantages
Measures impact outside research environment - e.g. public adoption Lack of standards of measurement
Available more quickly than traditional metrics Can be manipulated - e.g. falsely inflated likes
Measures non-traditional outputs - e.g. performances, software, datasets Popular not research related
More granular article level data Time consuming to gather due to wide range of sources

Broader picture of research impact than just traditional metrics

Acceptance by research community
Promotes sharing Lack of comparability across platforms, countries, disciplines and time

Altmetrics for types of sources

  • 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: peer reviews on F1000, Publons, and other post-publication peer review websites; Twitter mentions and Facebook wall posts; newspaper articles, videos, and podcasts; mentions on scholarly blog networks like ResearchBlogging
  • Shares: Twitter mentions, Facebook shares
  • Views: Metrics such as page views & download statistics from the journal website or repository where you've archived. 

Note: From Magazines [Photograph], by S. Winters, 2007, Flickr ( 
CC BY-SA 2.0.


Accreditation: The content of this section has been adapted from "Altmetrics" from the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh

  • Citations: Web of Science and Scopus citations; Google Book citations
  • Library holdings: Check WorldCat for international holdings, Trove for Australian holdings
  • Sales: data from publishers & book sellers 
  • Views: Pageview & download statistics from your publisher's website or the repository where you've archived your book/chapter.
  • Ratings: e.g., Goodreads 
  • Discussion: see "Journal Articles" tab for more information
  • Bookmarks: see "Journal Articles" tab for more information
  • Recognition: awards nominations or prizes, inclusion on subject reading lists
Note: From Book Sale Loot [Photograph], by Ginny, 2010, Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 2.0


  • Citations: Data Citation Index and Google Scholar citations
  • Views: views and downloads from Figshare, Zenodo, Dryad, ICPSR, or other subject or institutional repositories
  • Reuse: GitHub forks
  • Discussion: Figshare comments; see "Articles" tab for more information
  • Bookmarks: see "Journal Articles" tab for more information

Note: From Server Room of BalticServers [Photograph], by, 2013, Wikimedia Commons (
CC BY-SA 3.0.


  • 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
  • Bookmarks, Shares: see "Journal Articles" tab for more information

Note: From Software Tools [Image], by A. Mallick42, 2016, Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 4.0.


  • photo of presentation and audienceViews: views and downloads on Figshare, Zenodo, or other institutional or subject repository
  • Discussion: Figshare comments; see also  "Journal Articles" tab for more information
  • Bookmarks, Shares: see "Journal Articles" tab for more information



Note: From The Presentation [Photograph], by Lala89_Photos, 2016, Flickr ( CC BY 2.0.
  • Views: Youtube, Vimeo, and Figshare views
  • Likes/Dislikes: Youtube likes and dislikes; Vimeo likes
  • Discussion: Youtube, Vimeo, and Figshare comments; see also "Journal Articles" tab for more information
  • Shares, Bookmarks: see "Journal Articles" tab for more information


Note: From Video Camera & Microphone, by Panelxf, 2020, Wikimedia Commons ( CC0 1.0 Universal.



  • Bookmarks: bookmarks by the public on Delicious & Pinboard; Twitter favorites
  • Discussion & reviews: Twitter mentions and Facebook wall posts; newspaper articles, videos, and podcasts; mentions on blog networks 
  • Shares: Twitter mentions, Facebook shares
  • Views: Pageview & download statistics from the venue website & other sites event is advertised
  • Invitations: commissions and invitations to exhibit or perform, community collaborations
  • Attendance: visitor numbers, online attendance
  • Sales: ticket sales, product sales for artworks, music recordings, catalogues

Note: From Guitarist in an Art Gallery, by M. Georgieva, 2016, Wikimedia Commons ( CC0 1.0.

Altmetric aggregator sources

There are a number of Altmetric products available that track and collate alternative metrics such as social media and mass media mentions, shares, likes etc.

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