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Bibliometrics and Altmetrics: Article-Level Metrics

A guide to research metrics, which are used to evaluate the amount of attention an author, article, or journal receives via citations and online

Citation Count

The citation count is the number of citations an article has received.

Uses

  • Identify seminal articles in your field
  • Citation tracing for research (find newer and older articles that have cited each other)

Concerns

  • Disparities between disciplines: some disciplines cite more heavily
  • Disparities between articles of different ages: older articles tend to be more highly cited
  • Varies based on platform: for instance, Google Scholar reports more citations than other platforms
  • Easy to manipulate through self-citation, buddy citation, and journal policy
  • Some citations carry more weight than others
  • Citations do not measure quality

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Altmetrics

"Altmetrics" is a generic term for the number of online interactions with the article, including mentions in the news, shares on social media, etc. (There is also a company called "Altmetric" that tracks altmetrics.)

Uses

  • Track media attention
  • Track attention outside the academy
  • Get a sense of impact before citations are available

Concerns

  • Easy to manipulate through self-promotion
  • Positive versus negative attention: some shares are critical, not complimentary
  • Prestige of the entity interacting with the article: an institution carries more weight than an individual
  • Appeal to the general public: some research is of less interest to non-specialists

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