Research Impact: Beyond Citation Counts

Citation count is the most common and traditional metric for measuring the impact of a scientific paper.  However, it is an increasingly inadequate measurement.  Citation counts to not capture the diverse and rapid ways in which scientific research is shared, accessed, recommended, and endorsed in the digital age.

Altmetrics or alternative metrics are a collection of emerging impact measurements intended to capture how and where research is communicated on the Web.  These metrics include download counts, recommendations in reference management tools, tweets, blog posts, and news stories, to name a few.

For example Dr. Mitalipov’s ground breaking Cell article has been tweeted 330 times, posted by 65 Facebook users, mentioned on 15 science blogs, saved by 54 Mendeley users, and reported by 50 news outlets. 

In addition to offering more immediate, social, and web-based indicators of impact for papers, altmetrics can help us understand the influence of other kinds of research products such as data sets, blogs, and clinical guidelines.  Likewise, this kind of data can help us understand the impact of research on different categories of audiences, such as clinicians and educators. 

There are several free and fee based altmetric tools on the market: 

ImpactStory is a free, open source resource.  Users can create an impact profile for articles and other scholarly products.

Plum Analytics is a subscription tool for analyzing and benchmarking impact at the individual, lab, department, and institutional level.

And many of the OHSU Library’s journals and databases provide article level altmetrics.  Including Scopus.

For more information about altmetrics and strategies for tracking your research impact contact Robin Champieux, OHSU’s Scholarly Communication Librarian.