Scholarly work gets created, disseminated, and discussed in a variety of ways. While conversation about and engagement with your work may occur via journals, which can be measured by citation and journal metrics, your work will also be discussed via more ephemeral platforms, such as social media, etc. Altmetrics offer a way to measure mentions, tweets, downloads, comments, and use of scholarly work in non-academic discussion venues. These measures can complement traditional metrics to assist in demonstrating your scholarly impact, frequently offering qualitative and contextual uses of your work alongside quantitative measures.
Each measure that you use generates its data differently. Data may be harvested from other sources, or data may be part of your social media/metric community. As such, it's important to understand how each measure works. Below are some questions to consider before including these measures in an online portfolio or other demonstrations of your impact.
- What can altmetrics add to my submission?
- What is the culture or accepted standard regarding altmetrics in the discipline or institution that I am submitting to?
- Are there guidelines, templates, etc., that show best practices for my submission?
- How could altmetrics be misinterpreted? Can I minimize or mitigate this risk? (p. 160)
Roemer, R., & Borchardt, Rachel. (2015). Meaningful metrics : A 21st century librarian's guide to bibliometrics, altmetrics, and research impact. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries Press.
There are too many social media, academic networking, and other sites to list, but each one--whether it is used to share presentations, saved citations, research data, or articles, etc.--should have measures attached to it. Those could be number of download, views, hits, shares, saves, etc. Use these measures with caution, carefully considering whether the measures are reliable, and whether they truly complement a positive demonstration of your impact.