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“Alternative metrics” or “altmetrics” refers to different ways of measuring the use of, and impact of, scholarship. Rather than solely measuring the number of times a work is cited in scholarly literature, altmetrics aims to capture a more complete picture of scholarly impact by counting and analyzing the usage of more recent avenues of scholarly communication:

  • Views and downloads from online repositories and databases
  • Sharing through social media (for example, Facebook and Twitter)
  • Citations and discussions in blogs and wikis
  • Social bookmarking (for example, Delicious and CiteULike)
  • Mentions and comment counts (for example, in Reddit and YouTube)
  • Holdings in library collections

Additionally, altmetrics can be used to understand the research impact of scholarly works that aren't traditionally captured through citation counts, such as

  • Figures and images
  • Reports
  • Data sets
  • Books and book chapters
  • Proceedings
  • Presentations and slides

The research impact measuring service Plum Analytics provides a helpful list of what types of items are counted as part of altmetrics and how usage is measured.

In addition, because it can take years for citations in scholarly literature to take place, be publishing, and then measured,  altmetrics aspires to provide to more timely usage data that allows for real-time reporting of scholarly impact.

Altmetrics doesn’t seek to replace conventional bibliometrics, but rather, endeavors to generate more timely and complete pictures of scholarly impact that can help researchers to better focus their efforts on avenues that are garnering the most interest, and ultimately, the greatest impact for their work.

Plum Analytics

The University Library System (ULS) is now working with Plum Analytics to provide altmetrics for scholarly works by Pitt authors and researchers.

The ULS uses PlumX to track usage of scholarly works by Pitt authors and researchers. Profiles have been created for select Pitt researchers to help them view and analyze the impact of their works. A future ULS goal is to make this profiling system available to all Pitt researchers.

In the meantime, the use of all works deposited into D-Scholarship@Pitt, the university's online institutional repository, are measured by PlumX. When use data are available, they can be found at the bottom of each item in D-Scholarship@Pitt.


More Information

You can find out more about altmetrics and the ULS use of PlumX here--