Thing 19 & 20 : Altmetrics, Professional Social Networks

Thing 19: Altmetrics

Altmetrics attempt to measure the impact of scholarly and scientific published papers. Impact measurements are important to scholars seeking funding for research as they are used to demonstrate the affect and reach of the research back into the scientific and wider communities.

Traditional methods used include Citation Metrics (Wikipedia link) which looks at how often an article is cited in other articles, books, or official publications, and Journal Impact Factor (Wikipedia link) which measures the yearly average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal. These methods come with long established concerns which are recognised by the journals themselves. For example Nature, an interdisciplinary journal widely held to have one of the highest impact factors, openly confirmed that its 2004 impact factor was based on only a quarter of its publications in the editorial article ‘Not so Deep Impact’ Nature 435, (23 June 2005).

Altmetrics seeks to complement traditional impact factors by measuring mentions of the articles or papers in the variety of online communications we now use. This includes mentions of articles and papers in news reports, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, references in policy and government,  Wikipedia citations, reference manager readers such as Mendeley and Zotero… etc.

Altmetrics scores are presented in both a textual and visual form. The visual image of a colourful donut is designed to provide a quick and easy way to see how much and what type of attention a paper or article has received.  By clicking on the donut you are taken to a details page that provides information on the mentions and references that have contributed to the score. Information on how Altmetrics derives its attentions score is provided on the Altmetric donut and attention score webpage.

Now look at the Altmetric score for this article: Developing a news media literacy scale (SAGE) – Altmetric.

And read the following article:

Altmetrics are the central way of measuring communication in the digital age, but what do they miss?, Nick Scott, LSE Impact Blog, (December 2012)

How to complete Thing 19

Step 1

Install the Altmetric bookmarklet to your browser.

Instructions are provided here on the Altmetric Bookmarklet page which is to click on, hold, and drag the blue ‘Altmetric it!’ button to your bookmark bar. To do this you will need to make sure that your bookmark bar is showing on your browser, if you are unsure how to do this a quick Google search for ‘how to show the bookmarks bar in (browser name)’ should provide you with quick instructions.

Step 2

Find a journal article or paper that you are interested in and click on the ‘Altmetric it!’ button.

Step 3

Reflect on the Altmetric results and in your blog and share any thoughts you have about the usefulness or shortcomings of Altmetrics as an impact measuring tool. Consider the following questions:

Does a high score mean the article of a better or worse quality than others?

Do a lot of twitter mentions indicate something positive or negative about the article?

What context might be needed to understand the mention scores?

Additional Resources

A brief history of altmetrics,  Prof Mike Thelwall (June 2014)

Thing 20: Professional Social Networks (LinkedIn/

A professional social network service is a social media platform that is focused solely on interactions and relationships of a professional nature. For Thing 20 we’re looking at three of the top platforms:


LinkedIn began in 2010 as an online CV platform where jobseekers would create a profile and post their resumes to gain the attention of potential employers. In October 2015 LinkedIn announced over 400million members were using the platform for employment and professional networking.

Users create a profile and provide information on their employment history, skills, and CV details. Users can then ‘friend’ known colleagues and professional contacts to improve networking in their field and also to build reputation and vouch for each other as skilled professionals.  Connections can also be developed by participating in groups and discussions.

The University of Edinburgh Careers Service has a page with information on how to get started with LinkedIn and provides an example student profile, links to relevant LinkedIn groups, information on the alumni tool, and a case study of one student’s LinkedIn experience.

Go to LinkedIn is a platform for academics to share research papers, network, and track the research of academics they follow. Users create a profile, can network and connect with colleagues and peers, put up a CV, and can upload their papers and articles (or just provide a list of publications if they choose not to upload).

It currently has over 44million users, who have contributed more than 16million papers across almost 2million research interests.

Go to


ResearchGate is a platform for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. It was created by two researchers, physicians Dr. Ijad Madisch and Dr. Sören Hofmayer, and computer scientist Horst Fickenscher,  who wanted to improve the experience of collaborating with a friend or colleague on the other side of the world.

It is the largest academic social network in terms of active users, and currently lists over 11+ million members.

As with users can create profiles, upload CVs and papers, and create networks. Additional features include private chat rooms where researchers can share data, edit shared documents, or discuss confidential topics. It also provides a research focused job board.

Go to ResearchGate

How to complete Thing 20

Step 1

Choose one of either LinkedIn,, or ResearchGate and have a look at their websites as a potential user.

Step 2

Reflect in your blog on the merit, or not, of professional social networking platforms for you at this stage in your education/career. Have you used any of these site before? Could any of them be beneficial for your professional development?

Additional Resources

Should you share your research on, Menachem Wecker (February 2014)

Do academic social networks share academic’s interests?,  David Matthews, Times Higher Education (April 2016)