From bibliometrics to altmetrics

AltmetricsDanielle Padula, Community Development Coordinator at Scholastica, and Catherine Williams, Head of Marketing at Altmetric, introduce the changing landscape of research referencing in an article published on LSE blog: Enter Alternative Metrics: Indicators that capture the value of research and richness of scholarly discourse

Altmetrics are an alternative to bibliometrics as they are gathered from mentions of research in nontraditional online outlets. These mentions can be number of views, of downloads, network shares… on databases, social media, news media, post-publication peer review forums, blogs, Wikipedia, and more. Thus, altmetrics can be applied to nontraditional research and scholarly outputs and they often challenge the Impact Factor (IF) because it can take months to years to generate article citations, especially for research in the humanities and social sciences. The authors explain that “Alternative metrics make it possible for authors of newer works to show that their research is being read and used long before it is formally cited, and often almost immediately following publication.”

Also note that altmetrics are more meant to show that “research is being discussed but leaving it to the reader to determine whether that buzz is warranted, or indeed occurring for positive or negative reasons. The cause of altmetrics impact can vary, much like high counts of bibliometric article citations can be linked to article endorsements or references to previous articles’ errors.”

Read more here

Do you know Google Scholar Metrics?

GSGoogle Scholar Metrics provide a way for authors to quickly gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles in scholarly publications. Scholar Metrics summarize recent citations to many publications.

You can explore publications in research areas of your interest, for example, the top 20 publications in Business, Economics & Management. They are ordered by their five-year h-index and h-median metrics. To see which articles in a publication were cited the most and who cited them, click on their h-index number to view the articles as well as the citations underlying the metrics.

GS Metrics

To explore specific research areas, select one of the broad areas, click on the “Subcategories” link and then select one of the options. For example: Finance or Marketing. Browsing by research area is, as yet, available only for English publications. You can, of course, search for specific publications in all languages by words in their titles, like “Revue Française de Gestion“.

Scholar Metrics currently cover articles published between 2009 and 2013, both inclusive and are currently based on Google Scholar index as it was in June 2014.

The h5-index and h5-median of a publication are, respectively, the h-index and h-median of only those of its articles that were published in the last five complete calendar years.

Also note Google’s explanations on the coverage of publications:

“Since Google Scholar indexes articles from a large number of websites, we can’t always tell in which journal a particular article has been published. To avoid misidentification of publications, we have included only the following items:

  • journal articles from websites that follow our inclusion guidelines;
  • selected conference articles in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering;
  • preprints from arXiv, SSRN, NBER and RePEC – for these sites, we compute metrics for individual collections, e.g., “arXiv Superconductivity (cond-mat.supr-con)” or “CEPR Discussion Papers”. “

Impact factors of journals in economics

EconomicsThomson Reuters, in their blog Science Watch, offers a visualisation of the impact factors of journals in economics , as a result of a request made on the database JCR (Journal Citation Reports) to which the library subscribes.

The result allows us to compare the most active journals in terms of the number of publications and citations, as calculated by JCR Impact Factor and the Eigenfactor Score. This request can be replicated on the JCR database for other disciplines or to compare specific titles between them.

The library is at your disposal to help you make these requests.

Viewing Altmetrics

Viewing Altmetrics

Altmetrics are a new form of metrics,  proposed as an alternative to Journal Impact Factor and other personal citation indices.

They often focus on social networks, online reference managers and bookmarking for analysis, as opposed to peer citation.

See how Altmetrics are used by an institutional repository

Below are two examples from two articles.

Note the presence of the  icon below the social network links.
Click this icon to see a breakdown of the article metrics; the platform the article was shared from, what was written or tweeted about the article, where it was shared, and its overall score.

For more information on Altmetrics, visit their site.

Use Journal Citation Reports to calculate the impact factor of more than 7,500 academic journals.

Use Journal Citation Reports to calculate the impact factor of more than 7,500 academic journals.

To perform a search for citation reports from a specific journal, visit Journal Citation Reports and type the journal title you wish to search for.
You will be presented with a summary for that journal, including citations, impact factor, 5 year impact factor, amongst other metrics.


Journal Impact Factors can be questioned due to:

  • An anglo-american linguistic bias

  • Field dependency – only citations within the same academic field are considered in calculation

  • Articles gaining prestige from higher recognized journals contributing to a “Matthew effect” – popular journals are read more frequently and are more frequently cited. Their articles being more frequently read – a vicious circle which means that prestigious journals obtain a greater following at the expense of smaller ones

  • Other articles using incorrect or incomplete citations not being added to the citation count

  • Data manipulation – articles published at the beginning of the year have a longer time period in which to be read and or cited than those published later on in the year. As only the calendar year is used in calculation, this bias is not represented in calculation

For more details, see this article from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology

How is the Journal Impact Factor calculated?

 How is the Journal Impact Factor calculated?

The Journal Impact Factor assesses journals catalogued within Thomson Reuters ‘Web of Knowledge’. It is a measure of how often an article in a particular journal has been cited, on average, per year, therefore giving the journal’s relative influence or impact compared to journals in the same area.

The Impact Factor (IF) is based on the number of citations (A) in the current year, compared with items published in the previous 2 years, and the number of articles (B) published in the same two years:

This calculation is repeated each year, so that the changing impact factor for a journal can be observed over time