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 a social realm.

Altmetrics include social media activity, coverage in media outlets, and inclusion in policy documents or scholarly commentary, among other types of activity. Departments and disciplines currently incorporate altmetrics into tenure and promotion decisions variably; check with your department for guidance on best practices.

Popular tools to track these alternative measures

Please note that these tools are fee-based unless otherwise noted.

  • Impact Story
    • Aggregates data from a number of resources, including Mendeley, PLoS, and Scopus, into a holistic profile that allows authors to consider all of their publications in one place.
  • Plum X
    • Analyzes metrics for “any research output that is available online.” The metrics are pulled from various sources, including EBSCO, PLoS, Facebook, Figshare, Dryad, Github, institutional repositories, WorldCat, Amazon, YouTube, and more.
  • Altmetric
    • A free bookmarklet or subscription portal that presents the “quantitative measure of the attention that a scholarly article has received… derived from 3 main factors”:
      • volume of mentions (each person who mentions it only counts once)
      • source of the mention (different types of sources--e.g., tweets vs. policy documents--are weighted differently)
      • author of the mention (evidence of bias and expertise in the field are taken into account; non-biased authors are weighed differently than biased authors)
  • Scholarometer
    • A freely available browser extension for Chrome and Firefox developed at Indiana University-Bloomington which uses Google Scholar to provide citation analysis data, including number of articles, number of citations, and h-index. Currently in beta mode.

Pros and cons identified about these emerging metrics:


  • Gauges impact of research before it enters the citation cycle
  • Demonstrates impact in both the social and scholarly realm
  • Measures the impact of different types of scholarly or creative outputs (e.g., datasets or visual arts)


  • Lack of agreement on what metrics, data sources, or tools are most valuable
  • Lack of consistent adoption across disciplines and institutions

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