Pros and cons of altmetrics


  • Don't just apply to journals and books. They can be used to gather information on presentations, data sets, software and other research outputs too
  • Allow measurement of early reaction to papers because social media, for example, can provide feedback on research in less time than citations in journal articles
  • Can demonstrate broader impact because they allow you to show how people from outside of academia have engaged with your work
  • You can follow the trail of who has mentioned or used your research in order to discover new papers, peers or collaborators


  • Alternative metrics look at how many times research is used or mentioned but not at the context. As a result, a simple count cannot be used to demonstrate the value of research alone
  • A piece could be blogged about many times due to negative feedback
  • Some people feel that articles get mentioned on social media because they relate to popular topics, not because they are examples of good research
  • Alternative metrics can be abused by individuals who want to artificially increase their altmetric scores
  • Some people question the significance of the processes altmetrics measure, arguing that Twitter, for example, is too brief a place for “serious” academic conversations and that tweets are not a useful measure of the value of a paper. For example, see Colquhoun, D. Why you should ignore altmetrics and other bibliometric nightmares. If so many articles are behind paywalls – how can people outside academia re-tweeting articles read the full article in order to verify its content and quality?

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