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Research Impact: Alternative Research Impact Metrics


Altmetrics, also known as Alternative Metrics, are non-traditional bibliometrics that provide insights into what is being said about research in non-scholarly forums and how research is being used to create public policy and solve real-world problems. Altmetrics could be used to complement the traditional research metrics which are quantitative rankings based on citation analysis of a researcher's scholarly publications.

Research Metrics (Bibliometrics) vs Altmetrics

Research Metrics (Bibliometrics) and altmetrics are not oppositional metrics but parallel or complementary facilities in the field of scholarly communication. The table below summarises some differences between bibliometrics and altmetrics.


Research Metrics (Bibliometrics)



The citations accrue when the works that cite your work are online and/or indexed. 

Altmetric scores could start to accumulate after you put your works online immediately, and people can access it almost in real time.


Applies mainly to scholarly journal articles, books, book chapters and conference papers. 

Provides data on research data, software, presentations, reports, book chapters, etc.


Bibliometrics only tracks scholarly citations. 

Altmetrics could engage both the academia and non-academia and track the conversations openly.  

Disciplinary differences

Bibliometrics from the major citation database (e.g. Scopus or Web of Science) doesn’t cover scientific blogs and grey literature, and it provides better coverage in STEM disciplines. 

Altmetrics interact more with scientific blogs, grey literature, books and conferences which are common research outputs in humanities, arts and social sciences disciplines.


Bibliometrics are acknowledged by academia and generally reflect academic research standards. Many universities and/or funding agencies request bibliometrics for P&T and funding applications. 

Altmetrics are new tools and may not be necessarily indicative of research quality, thus altmetrics may lack broad acceptance by academia and/or funding agencies.


Bibliometrics are influenced by scientific database, thus are more stable as providers gather data systematically although self-citation could influence scores to a certain level.

 Altmetrics are influenced by the providing services, and people on social media can easily manipulate the data.

Further readings

Altmetrics Platforms

Use Cases

How researchers use altmetric data to disseminate and track their works, and why this is a necessity when having research published in an online journal. 

Introduction of Altmetric Explorer for institutions and how institutions use Altmetric Explorer for collection management. 

How does UniSA use the Explorer for Institutions platform to make promotion and tenure decisions, to provide decision makers with additional context on the broader engagement and potential impacts of a researcher’s work.

Searching for altmetrics

  • If your publisher has integration with Altmetric, view via your publisher's website for your article.
  • Use the Altmetric bookmarklet when you are at the article 
  • Go to Dimensions, search under Researchers and then sort by 'Altmetric Attention Score':