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Measure for Measure: Altmetrics (June 2017): For Individuals

By Beth Juhl

For Individuals

Unlike the high-stakes commercial enterprises Altmetric and Plum Analytics, the nonprofit Impactstory is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Led by altmetrics leading lights Heather Piwowar and Jason Priem, with an advisory board that includes representation from SPARC, Impactstory takes a third path to reporting, preferring to help individuals “tell stories” about their research rather than offering numerical scores or graphs. Impactstory provides simple badges, such as one’s “greatest hit” publication (based on saves or shares) or the percentage of one’s publications that are open access. Such achievements are based on Impactstory categories of buzz (the volume of discussion surrounding one’s research), engagement (who is accessing research outputs, and where they’re located), openness (the availability of the research to a worldwide audience), and fun (whimsical measures, such as one’s popularity in Japan). Users may register for free by linking a Twitter account and then import publication information from an ORCID profile. Impactstory is committed to open data and open source, and rewards authors with high rankings for publishing in open venues. Reporting depends on publication identifiers like DOIs, and without them is somewhat inaccurate.

Several browser plugins allow scholars to quickly look up their article metrics on the fly. Altmetric’s free Bookmarklet for Researchers lives in one’s bookmarks bar, and when viewing a research article of interest, a user can click an “Altmetric it!” button to view the article’s Attention Score donut. The service currently works on pages containing a DOI, publisher sites where the embedded article metadata is sufficient to achieve a match, and in a range of databases such as PubMed or the open-access arXiv, just one example of a specialized eprint repository for the sciences where meaningful metrics are of obvious value. The handy Lazy Scholar browser extension developed by Colby Vorland for Chrome (but recently disabled for Firefox) is something of a Swiss Army knife for academics, presenting the Altmetric score, the citation count from Google Scholar, and the Journal Impact Factor for a journal article; in addition the Lazy Scholar toolbar allows one to locate the full text, save to Mendeley, share on Twitter, and annotate documents. Finally, there is Scholarmeter, from the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, a browser plugin in beta that offers analytics on Google Scholar citation patterns.

Want to boost your scholarly visibility? Kudos is a service (free to individuals) that provides a set of tools to raise the profile of academics and their publications. Researchers create a Kudos account, add their publications or import them from ORCID, and then have access to existing metrics as well as tools to maximize the visibility of each item (“increase publication performance”) by allowing authors to explain their research output (“What’s it about?” Why is it important?”), link to research data sets or supplemental information, and promote their work on social media channels. In addition to reporting on usage through embedded system widgets, Kudos pulls in the article Attention Score from Altmetric and the Times Cited number from Web of Science. Dubbed by one wag “Hootsuite for academia,”1 Kudos is proof that the altmetrics phenomenon has reached its next evolutionary stage: marketing.


1. Rapple, “Hootsuite for academia?