This Forum Sponsor Update was provided by Sara Rouhi, Product Sales Manager, Altmetric.
DLF’s work to “support services that expand access to digital resources for research, teaching, and learning” makes it an ideal community to share what we’re doing at Altmetric.com
Altmetric is a data science company dedicated to tracking attention to online research outputs and presenting them via intuitive, visually engaging article level metrics.
Our goal is simple: We want to help researchers tell their stories — specifically the stories around the non-traditional impacts of their work. Citation counts, impact factors, and H-index, while useful indicators, are lagging indicators that speak mostly to how other researchers engage with your work.
But what about all the non-researchers engaging in your work? What about researchers in seemingly unrelated fields that are talking about your work but not necessarily citing it?
What about policy makers and think tanks that are using your work to generate policy recommendations? What about practitioners in the field like doctors, lawyers, and public servants? Enthusiasts? Activists? Individuals struggling with impacts of natural disasters or terminal illness?
Ground breaking research touches all these spheres and few of the individuals in those spheres are publishing articles citing the research that impacted their lives.
So how do we help researchers tell that story? We give them robust, curated, auditable data.
Altmetric data not only counts and analyze the number of mentions (traced through the article identifier associated with the article like a DOI or RePEC ID) a researcher’s work generates, it’s also fully auditable, allowing anyone looking at the data to drill down to the mention-level (i.e. what policy document was your work cited in and what was the recommendation made based on your work?).
Again, since context matters, being able to read every comment on F1000 to determine if they relate to concerns about the accuracy of your data versus enthusiasm about your findings help you tell your story. If the people tweeting about your data are reseachers in a totally unrelated field who – for some reason – are finding your research helpful to them, that’s a story you want to dive into, learn more about, and get credit for.
Simply put: These interactions yield new kinds of collaboration, innovation, and conversations that you could never have known about if you depended solely on “traditional” metrics.
A very interesting study out of the University of Wisconsin called “Building Buzz: (Scientists) Communicating Science in New Media Environments” (full citation below) demonstrates a correlation between research popularized in the news and Twitter and higher H-indices. Unsurprisingly, the more people see your work or have an opportunity to link to your work, the more likely your work will be read…and eventually cited. Check out the full paper here: http://jmq.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/09/12/1077699014550092.abstract (you’ll need a subscription to Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly from Sage for the full-text).
So all this goes to show that the more researchers make their work available through as many avenues as possible — from peer-review sites and F1000 to Twitter and LinkedIn to news and blogs — the more likely they’ll start new conversations with unexpected audiences, they’ll discover engagement with their work they never knew about, and they’ll uncover how their work touches the general public and not just other researchers— all of which may lead to higher citations, but more importantly, demonstrates more broadly the reach of a researcher’s findings.
At the end of the day, great research yields touches many lives beyond just other researchers. At Altmetric we are helping deliver those stories to you, one mention at a time.
 We emphasize that we track attention and NOT quality. Your work can generate attention for a lot of reasons, many of them negative, including fraud, unethical behavior, and false data or findings. Therefore broad attention (a very colorful Altmetric donut) or high scores (see our website Altmetric.com on how the Altmetric score is calculated) do not indicate the quality of the researcher or the work. In other words, Barack Obama gets lots of attention , but so does Kim Kardashian. Not all attention is good.
 “Building Buzz: (Scientists) Communicating Science in New Media Environments,” Xuan Liang, Leona Yi-Fan Su, Sara K. Yeo, Dietram A. Scheufele, Dominique Brossard, Michael Xenos, Paul Nealey, and Elizabeth A. Corley, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, published online 12 September 2014. DOI: 10.1177/1077699014550092