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Research Impact Challenge

Altmetrics Further Explained

Altmetrics: How does it work?

How it works: Depending on the product (e.g.,, PlumX), altmetrics are gathered using unique identifiers. These tend to be DOIs (, but are sometimes ISBNs and URLs (PlumX). provides free tools to researchers with basic capabilities, while costs are associated with enhanced features. PlumX has costs associated with all features.

Altmetrics at UMaine

DigitalCommons@UMaine Institutional Repository

DigitalCommons@UMaine provides access to the scholarly, educational, and creative works of the University of Maine community. Metrics available in the Digital Commons include download statistics, and an score (for items with DOIs). See more about at the bottom of this page. Also included are PlumX metrics, from another alternative metrics company.


image of altmetrics badge in Fogler's OneSearch resultsIEEE Explore
Click on the article abstract or title, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on "Metrics" to see the Altmetric score on the bottom right of the page, if it's available for that article.

SpringerLink Ebooks
Search for a book and click on the title to view a snapshot of the publisher's Book Metrics. Click on the metrics graphic to get a fuller picture and description of the book's usage and impact. See where the data are harvested.

image of altmetrics indicators in SpringerLink Ebooks database


Free tools from

Free tools from that can help you capture and convey your research impact include:

image of's free services for researchers tracks a range of online sources that capture the social life of a researcher's scholarly activity. is a commercial product that offers a free bookmarklet and is embedded in a variety of library databases.

Pros/Cons of Altmetrics

Potential Advantages:

  • Timeliness
  • Supports a broader swath of scholarly contributions
  • Encourages openness, sharing, and reuse of scholarship 
  • Broadens audience, and thus potential impact

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Gaming
  • Perceptions of “real” impact
  • Dynamic nature of social media
  • Score comparison

Note: Similar to other metrics, altmetrics does not reveal the quality of a work; that is up to the individual scholar to assess. Quantitative measures are only part of a scholar's impact story.

Personalized Altmetric Researcher Profiles


ResearchGate is a social networking platform where scholars can share research outputs, ask and answer questions, and identify potential collaborators. The contributions made to ResearchGate (e.g., uploaded publications and/or data, questions you ask and answer), the interactions people have with your work on the site, and the reputation of the people interacting with your work make up your RG score. Additional information on the RG Score can be found here, and on their h-index here.


Impactstory is an open-source, web-based tool you can download from Github that helps scientists explore and share the diverse impacts of all their research products—from traditional ones like journal articles, to emerging products like blog posts, datasets, and software. Alternatively, you can sign up for an account and use the Impactstory platform to create an altmetric researcher profile.

Metrics Toolkit

The Metrics Toolkit was launched in January 2018, from "a group of information professionals who are passionate about using the best possible evidence for research evaluation."

The Metrics Toolkit is "a resource built to help researchers and evaluators navigate the ever-changing research metrics landscape.The Metrics Toolkit includes 27 expert-written, time-saving summaries for the most popular research metrics including the Journal Impact Factor and Altmetric Attention Score."

Also included is an app that can recommend discipline-specific metrics based on your specific use cases.

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