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Citations, Altmetrics and Researcher Profiles: Alternative metrics

A guide to the key tools for examining research impact, as well as setting up and managing your research profiles.

Alternative measures

Alternative metrics measure how many times a research output has been shared, mentioned or downloaded  from online sources such as social media sites, blogs, mainstream media and reference managers and the data is accumulated at a faster rate compared to traditional measures. 

Alternative metrics compliment traditional impact measurement methods and are a good alternative for disciplines such as Humanities and Social Sciences where traditional metrics are not as useful for measuring impact.

Two popular alternative metrics platforms are PlumX  and .

These platforms differ in the way they source and report metrics. 

Altmetric sources data from social media, traditional media and online reference managers to track the level of attention a research output is receiving online. Altmetric disambiguates links to outputs and looks at the quantity and quality of the attention an output is receiving. This information is then displayed visually in the Altmetric circle or donut. The donut can be seen on the UWA Profiles and Research Repository, many publishers and journal websites plus as a third party application in Scopus. offers a free Altmetric it! bookmarklet for Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

(Above) Altmetric it! Bookmarklet from 
(Right) Altmetric bookmarklet result for the article: King, T. E., Fortes, G. G., Balaresque, P., Thomas, M. G., Balding, D., Delser, P. M., . . . Schürer, K. (2014). Identification of the remains of King Richard III. Nature Communications, 5. Retrieved from 


PlumX gathers metrics for scholarly research output and categorises these into five separate metric types: Usage, Captures, Mentions, Social Media, and Citations.

In PlumX, research outputs are called artifacts and PlumX uses a range of identifiers to track the metrics of these artifacts across a wide range of sources.

The PlumX PlumPrint (right) visually represents a publication's available metrics, with each metric type allocated a colour. Further metric details can be viewed by hovering over the PlumPrint or by clicking the see details link. In the UWA Profiles and Research Repository the PlumPrint is embedded at the research output level

For more information about PlumX please consult or contact a UWA Librarian.

Plumx categories

(Above) from:
PlumX PlumPrint example from:

  PlumX Altmetric

Types of research output tracked

Blogs, Books, Book chapters, Cases, Clinical trials, Conference , Paper, Datasets, Dissertations, Figures, Grants, Interviews, Journal articles, Media, Patents, Posters, Slide Presentations, Software/Sourcecode, Videos, Web Pages 

For a comprehensive list of artifacts gathered please consult PlumX's About Artifacts

Altmetric blog provides information of data curation in their post "Not just science articles- tracking other disciplines and other research outputs" 

Identifiers used to track research output

DOI, URL, ISBNs, PubMedID, PebMed Cenral IDs, arXiv IDs, OCLC numbers, RePEc ID, SSRN IDs, Vimeo IDs, GitHub IDS or URLS, SourceForge IDs, US Patent Publication IDs, IDs.

PubMedID, arXiv ID, ADS ID, SSRN ID, RePEC ID, identifers, URN, ISNDs, DOIs.

from Altmetric's Tracking and collating attention

Metrics collected
  1. Usage: clicks, downloads, views, library holdings, video plays              
  2. Captures : bookmarks, code forks, favourites, readers, watcher          
  3. Mentions: blog posts, comments, reviews, Wikipedia links                    
  4. Social media: +1s, likes, shares, Tweets        
  5. Citations: PubMed Central, Scopus, USPTO
Full list of PlumX metrics
  • Social media mentions
  • Traditional media (mainstream and science specific)
  • Online reference managers

Altmetric's Sources of Attention 

Score calculation No score allocated Altmetric score derived from 3 main factors:
  • Volume of mentions (1 mention per person, per source)
  • Source of mentions (e.g. newspaper, blog, tweet)
  • Authors (who is the author, audience, bias?)

The donut and score

ORCID integration Yes Yes
API Open data API and PlumX embeddable widgets Free API for non-commercial use and embeddable badges
Subscription model Subscription-based Subscription-based Altmetric for Institutions.
Free use of bookmarklet 


It is becoming more common for academic researchers to raise the profile of their research in the community through Social Networking and other similar websites. Below is a list of suggested resources:

The Conversation: Write for academic-specific media outlets. 

LinkedIn: A professional networking site. Free access.

Research Gate: Connect with other academic researchers. Connect with other academic researchers.

Twitter: Share short updates about your research.

Facebook: Create a Facebook page for your research group.

Blogs: Start a blog to share your research.

YouTube: Use multimedia to share your research.

A beginner's guide to altmetrics