Thomas R. Cox, Jun 2015
Our recent paper “The hypoxic cancer secretome induces pre-metastatic bone lesions through lysyl oxidase“ published in Nature last week has soared to 175 in the first 7 days.
What are altmetrics?
Altmetrics – Alternative metrics:
The scientific publishing community has traditionally measured the impact and reach of a research article at the journal level. The most commonly used metric is the Impact Factor (IF), which measures the average number of citations of recent articles published in a journal. Citation scores are the gold standard for measuring scientific impact within the scientific community. However, with the diversification of research dissemination channels, the traditional metrics are not capable of measuring these crucial signals. As a result, there is a desire within the scientific community to get a more granular breakdown of an article’s performance using alternative article level metrics.
How are they measured?
Altmetrics are collected from online conversations around the research article and combines a selection of indicators (both scholarly and non-scholarly) to give a measurement of digital impact and reach. This data is collected from all of the places where scientists, patient advocates, journalists, nurses, engineers and members of the public talk about science online – for example, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, message boards and mainstream newspapers and magazines. Altmetrics allow authors (and publishers) to see what people are saying about their paper and can tell them how much attention a paper is receiving and where from.
What do altmetrics mean for Science?
Researchers, funders and institutions are increasingly concerned about the impact of their work. The traditional method of only counting citations to measure impact does not take into account the impact on the wider society. This is especially important given that much of the funding in science comes from public money and so scientists have an obligation to share their scientific advancement and its benefits with the wider community. Nowadays, scientists and non-scientists are increasingly and openly discussing papers online, in particular on social media sites. Thus, there has developed a huge value in being able to see what your peers – and people in other fields – have said about your article, and judging the impact of your research among specialists and non-specialists alike.
What does this mean for our paper?
Our Altmetric score puts our paper in the top 5% of all scientific papers scored by Altmetric. It also puts us in the 99th percentile of all papers the same age (i.e. 7 days at time of writing). This indicates that our paper is receiving a lot of attention online and a lot of people are talking about it. Thus it implies that the general community is excited by and talking about our findings. Moving forward, funding bodies are starting to take note of these alternative metrics and want to make sure they spend their (Public) money on research that makes a big impact. Therefore, as these metrics start to become more commonplace, they may eventually be used to determine the allocation of grant monies.