Research assessment: altmetrics and using Altmetric

What are altmetrics?

Altmetrics are measures that capture the attention a resource generates on the social web or other sources. They can be applied to journal articles, books/book chapters, software, datasets, websites, videos, etc.

Altmetrics attempt to show influence and engagement of work through blogs, reference management systems, scholarly social networks, and other platforms. They are metrics that complement traditional metrics such as citation counts to capture the impact within the scholarly community and beyond in the society.

Strengths Caveats
  • Speed: Altmetrics can accumulate more quickly than traditional metrics such as citations.
  • Range: Altmetrics can be gathered for many types of research output, not just scholarly articles.
  • Detail: Altmetrics can add to a fuller picture using many indicators and complementing citations.
  • Non-academic: Altmetrics can show the attention outside the academic world, where people may use but not cite research.
  • Lack of standards
  • Open to manipulation and gaming
  • Use of online tools may differ by individual researcher, discipline, over time
  • Popularity (attention) does not always equal quality of research
  • The spike in hits may have been a one-time, short-attention event
  • Data sources come and go


Altmetric for Institutions

Altmetric is a web-based platform that allows anyone in the Ghent research community to track, search, and measure the conversations about their research happening online.

Using the Altmetric Explorer, you can see who has been mentioning your work in major news sources, blogs, government policy documents, books, Wikipedia, and social media. Unlike other metrics, which are focused on the impact of a journal (impact factor, h-index, etc.), Altmetric tracks your research at the article level, enabling you to identify the attention your scholarship is receiving.

More info on how to get started

How does Altmetric track research?

Altmetric uses unique identifiers such as DOIs, handles, arXiv IDs, and PubMed IDs combined with text mining to track mentions of research outputs. If one of these links is included in a tweet, blog post, or news story, Altmetric will record it.

Altmetric tracks a broad range of (inter)national sources. Ghent University is also in the process of having several local sources added.

Why use Altmetric?

For researchers, Altmetric can help them discover how their research is perceived beyond 'traditional' journal-level metrics. See how different audiences - from fellow researchers, members of the general public, to policy makers and other stakeholders - are engaging with your scholarship. Explore possible pathways to impact and valorisation opportunities. Use it to find evidence of the broad reach of an article that was produced from your grant research. Use it as tool to manage your scholarly reputation. Keep abreast of who is talking about your research and what they are saying (positive or negative).

For researcher managers and policy advisors many of the same reasons apply, although they might be interested in larger views (whole research groups and interdisciplinary clusters, the entire university). It will allow them them get a better grasp on the whole picture of research strengths - and possibly impact.

At Ghent University we will not focus on the Altmetric Attention Score (donut with number which represents an automatically calculated, weighted count based on volume, sources, and authors) to avoid further quantification of research indicators. We also acknowledge that there are still some gaps in coverage and that the field of altmetrics is still one that needs to be explored further. However, altmetrics do offer one a unique insight into possible stakeholders of one's research and the conversations around science.

How to access Altmetric?

The Explorer for Institutions can be accessed via > Explorer log-in

For Ghent University authors, Altmetric matches publications to your Ghent University identity (including department affiliation) based on the publications listed in your Biblio profile.

In order to access Altmetric, you’ll need to be associated with Ghent University’s IP address on campus or use VPN software to access it off campus. Anyone at Ghent University can view Altmetric data as an anonymous user, but in order to save and track specific articles and reports or create custom groups (> the tool contains the formal structure of Ghent University, i.e. departments, not research groups), you’ll need to create an account using this invite link.


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Last modified Sept. 19, 2023, 9:09 a.m.