Alternative metrics, also known as altmetrics, try measure the reach and impact of scholarship and research beyond citation counts that contribute to more commonly used metrics like citation counts, Journal Impact Factor, or author H-index. Alternative metrics are a way to discover a more complete picture of how a given scholarly work is used, as well as where, why, and by whom. Additionally, alternative metrics may be the only way to evaluate the impact of non-traditional scholarly outputs, such as data, tools, software, websites, blogs, and videos.
In particular, alternative metrics take advantage of the internet's ability to track interactions with online items in order to measure how many times they are accessed, used, and shared.
Alternative metrics can answer questions such as:
Usage counts show interest in a work even though the reader may never end up citing the article. On the other hand, the usage count only reflects the usage that item has received via that specific database or website; consequently, the usage count may not reflect the full level of interest.
An increasing number of researchers are using alternative metrics to help document the varied impacts of their work in their CVs, tenure & promotion dossiers, and grant and job applications. When using alternative metrics to document your research’s influence, keep in mind that context is very important for making the numbers you list meaningful. Provide contextual information like percentiles and maps that communicates to your viewer how your paper or other research output has performed relative to others’ papers/outputs.
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