Beyond the article – metrics for other research outputs

About this seriesThrough August and September we are publishing a series of posts authored by some of the team at Altmetric, a data science company who provide such attention data to authors, publishers, institutions and funders. The posts will discuss, amongst other topics, using altmetrics within your C.V.s and grant applications, and how journal editors can make use of the tools. Learn more about the series by starting with the first post here. This particular post is authored by guest blogger Fran Davies.


Tracking other types of output

In some ways, it was to be expected that altmetrics providers would start offering metrics for journal articles first. Many of Altmetric’s first users were publishers who wanted to be able to view the data for different journals and develop benchmarking strategies according to the scores. Tracking journal articles first also meant that Altmetric could provide data to compliment traditional bibliometric indicators such as the Journal Impact Factor.

However, altmetrics providers and researcher-focused startups are conscious of the need to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the ability to capture online activity surrounding any type of research output, and are continually looking at ways of expanding their coverage beyond journal articles. As mentioned last week, companies such as Figshare have started issuing DOIs for other types of research output, such as conference slidesets, software packages and datasets. This means researchers can now attach unique identifiers to all their research outputs and share all their research online, rather than only being able to promote the articles they’ve published in journals.

For example, this author attached a Figshare DOI to a set of 3D scanned images of dinosaur bones. As the Altmetric details page below shows, the data has been shared in mainstream news outlets, blog posts, on social media and on Youtube. This suggests that if researchers start using services such as Figshare to attach unique identifiers to all their outputs, they can start viewing attention data for all their research, even if they haven’t published it in the traditional way. To view the data for other research outputs on Figshare, download the Altmetric bookmarklet. Researchers may also want to register for an ORCID ID, so they can link between their research outputs and ORCID profile and be sure they are appropriately credited for all of their work.

9.17_1

DOIs are robust, universally recognised and well supported across different systems. Last year, Altmetric collaborated with Springer on the Bookmetrix project. This allowed Springer to view output-level metrics for their book chapters, by tracking the DOI assigned to each chapter. The bookmetrix detail pages included traditional and non-traditional metrics, from download counts and Mendeley readers to review snippets. This project allowed Altmetric to expand their coverage and start viewing metrics for books as well as journal articles.

9.17_2

Tracking different identifiers  

In order to expand their coverage even further, metrics providers need to improve their support for other identifiers. Altmetric currently tracks DOIs, Arxiv IDs, Pubmed IDs, SSRN IDs and Handles. Earlier this year they added support for canonical URLs, which means they can now track online attention for press releases and research outputs that are hosted in repositories, but don’t have a unique identifier attached to them. They also have plans to increase their coverage for books in future.

What does all this mean?

Journal citation counts can take a long time to accumulate, and only indicate article to article referencing. This means it can be difficult for early career researchers to get a sense of the different types of attention their work has attracted from within and outside the academic sphere. One of the advantages of altmetrics data is that researchers from all disciplines and career stages can see who has been sharing and talking about their research.

We hope this post has provided some useful information about the different options available for researchers when sharing their work online, and viewing the data for it. The future holds many exciting opportunities when it comes to tracking multiple types of research output, and altmetrics providers like Altmetric are hoping to continue to be able to take advantage of these opportunities. Thanks for reading!

* Bookmetrix example: http://www.bookmetrix.com/detail/book/1db57282-b307-4f47-825a-23e3414834d3#readers

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