Demonstrating impact


Altmetrics are an alternative to using only citations to understand research influence. They measure the attention a publication has garnered based on online activities in social media, mainstream media, online reference management tools, policy documents and patents.

Altmetrics need to be used and presented contextually. Considerations include where the mentions are, whether the mention is positive or negative and who is the audience being reached.

Altmetrics can help answer the following questions:

  • Who is reading my work?
  • Are other researchers talking about or using my work?
  • Which news outlet is covering my work?
  • How many times has my worked been mentioned in social media?
  • What countries are looking at my work?

Why look at alternative measures of impact?

Alternative metrics are important as they include measures of works overlooked by traditional metrics. This includes looking at article views, number of downloads, mentions on social media and news sites and more. These are all indicators of impact and help people understand how research is being tracked, received and used.

There are a number of reasons why alternative measures of impact matter:

  • Can be applied to a wider range of research outputs including datasets, design protocols, software etc.
  • Can provide a fuller picture of research impact using range of indicators; not just citation counts and impact factors.
  • Compliments other research impact data by adding to the impact story.
  • Provides evidence of social impact - how research is being used beyond academia (eg impact on clinicians, practitioners, corporations etc)
  • Serves areas such as the Humanities and Social Sciences which are often not well covered by traditional measures of impact.

It is important to remember that alternative measures are less about quantitative metrics demonstrating impact in a particular area and more about using the data to tell the story that demonstrates your impact.

View the Tips for maximising visibility and publishing impact guide for more information about Altmetrics.

Altmetric Explorer

Altmetric Explorer tracks mentions of research publications online, in social media, media and other sources such as patents and policy documents. It allows you to browse by and generate analytical reports for Curtin authors, groups or departments, analyse mentions of individual publications and see any individual mention in the database.

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Access to the institutional version of Altmetric Explorer is available to Curtin staff and students whilst on campus.

You can also register with a Curtin email address. Signing in with a registered account will allow you to access Altmetric Explorer off campus and to save searches and set up regular and shareable dynamic reports. You will need to register here for the institutional version of Altmetric Explorer.

Other altmetrics tools

Impactstory profiles allows you to create a free profile that tracks activity in social media, blogs, news outlets and more.

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PlumX Metrics provides insight into the ways others interact online with individual pieces of research output with metrics for usage, captures, mentions, social media and citations.

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