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Durham University

University Library


Traditional bibliometrics provide indicators focussed on traditional scholarly activity in the form of citations. These often don't provide a full picture of the impact or reach of a scholarly output:

  • Citations often take some time after the original article is published (months or years) to appear and be measurable;
  • Only provide information on who has cited a work in a peer-reviewed output, not who else is reading, sharing, discussing or commenting outside of traditional publication channels;
  • Are limited to the coverage of the particular citation data set used.


Example Altmetric information provided by PlumX Metrics and for article co-authored by Durham academic Prof. Paul Pettit along with authors from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the University of Southampton and the Neanderthal Museum, Mettmann amongst others. (Ranked No. 37 in Altmetric Top 100, 2018)

Altmetrics and measuring the impact of non-traditional scholarly communications

Increasingly, researchers share ideas and research at all stages of the research process, and other researchers as well as a wider, non-academic audience, can engage with research outputs via a variety of different media such as twitter, blogs, youtube, news coverage etc.

This means that the 'impact' of research can be seen much more quickly, and across a much broader scope, than than might be reflected using traditional bibliometric data.

Altmetrics seek to measure the impact of articles by taking into account mentions by social media sites and other digital communications. There are various tools available which you might be interested in exploring, such as:

  • provides various tools for researcher including:
    • Badges and APIs for websites to highlight attention your publication(s) have received.
    • A browser button (bookmarklet) for individual researchers which allows you to quickly see the altmetric data for publications you discover on the web.
    • Examples for Durham authored articles can be found here, here and here.
  • PlumX Metrics: plumX Metrics is owned by Elsevier and is embedded within Scopus, ScienceDirect and other of their platforms.
  • PLoS Impact Explorer: An example of how altmetrics can be used, in this instance with publication data from Public Library of Science.
  • Kudos: Free to use, providing a simple profile page to promtoe your output, and track where and how engagement is taking place.

Your Academic Liaison Librarian

James Bisset

Senior Manager
Library Research Services

0191 334 1589

DU Library Blog

Metrics Top Tips

  1. Always use quantitative metrics together with qualitative inputs, such as expert opinion or peer review.
  2. Always use more than one quantitative metric to get the richest perspective. 
  3. If comparing entities, normalise the data to account for differences in subject area, year of publication and document type.

See our pages on Responsible Metrics for further information.