How Altmetrics Can Help Demonstrate Impact and Support Open Research

September 12, 2019 Elizabeth Brophy

The amount of attention that research gets online is important. It matters to funders, institutions, and researchers, so it should also matter to the journals authors choose for submission. Here are two easy ways we use tools from Altmetric to help track and make use of the online attention around published research.

Demonstrating Research Impact

As demonstrating research impact outside of academia becomes more important, journals need to be able to support, develop, and show how research impact is a key editorial goal. In a previous post, I talk about how to use Altmetric tools to identify popular articles and develop strategic promotional activity around them. But all that promotion is ultimately pointless unless we can track the data and learn from the results.

The Altmetric timeline works perfectly for this: Using the timeline (which can be specially exported or accessed anytime via the dashboard), we can link peaks in online activity to the timing of promotion. Of course, it can also show us if that promotional activity didn’t work very well and failed to create more online mentions. The timeline can also provide contextual data, showing results from comparable journals, helping to inform benchmarks and future goals.

Impact at the journal level

The graph above shows an example of this. Here, an important journal issue was published and promoted via social media in September; the large peak in online attention that month shows that the promotion was successful-the issue received a high level of attention-and sets a benchmark to meet or exceed for future campaigns.

Impact at the article level

bar graph, chart

Journals also need to be able to show that specific articles are having an impact. Including article Altmetric scores on each article page is a good first step, and it’s also important to regularly review article score reports to identify what’s doing well. But both the article page-level score and editorial reports aren’t necessarily the most accessible or public ways to demonstrate article impact.

Instead, a simple way to build wider awareness is to add a Trending Articles link to the journal homepage. All that’s needed is to set up a weekly report and embed a link to the report wherever you want Trending Articles to appear, and it brings together all of the most popular content in one easy-to-find place.

JCMS Article

JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, which Wiley publishes on behalf of the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES), did just that, making it easy for editors to check what’s getting the most online attention each week. It’s a great way to promote the most talked about articles, and the link can be posted on any website—the UACES also features it on their journal blog, helping popular articles reach an even wider audience.    

Supporting Open Research

So far, 2019 has been a big year for Open Access, with ongoing discussions around Plan S and the announcements of new types of publishing agreements

Research also shows that learned society members want societies to engage with and support open research more broadly (for instance open data and transparent peer review). Now more than ever, it’s important to assess your publications and plan for sustainability in a more open and transparent publishing environment.

To make this easier, Altmetric has added two new search elements:

  1. The Open Access filter allows us to check on the performance of OA content, and how that content compares to subscription content across things like the number of online mentions, where those mentions are happening, and how OA content is used online.
  2. The new search function for ORCID helps distinguish individual researchers and improves transparency into authors’ other professional activities, ensuring that all their work is recognized and rewarded. 

What’s next?

Ideally, in the future, Altmetric will also be able to track online attention for other research outputs, like review articles or data sets. In the meantime, there are plenty of ways to get the most out of the tools that are already available to demonstrate impact while also supporting the openness and transparency that researchers are looking for.

How are you using Altmetric? Leave us a note in the comments!

Thanks to JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies and UACES for agreeing to have their journal content featured in this post. Original post for Altmetric 6AM Conference blog.

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