Types of alternative metrics

Alternative metrics are an attempt to quantify the attention paid to research papers from outside the academic literature. Different providers supply data on Alternative Metrics.

Altmetric (Supplied by Digital Science)

Altmetric collects data from a range of sources (e.g., Policy documents, news, blogs, social media, Wikipedia etc.)  It presents this data in a coloured donut with an Altmetric score in the middle.  The colours indicate the source of the ‘mention’, the score is a weighted aggregate of the ‘mention’ a publication received from the sources.

You can access Altmetric data from publishers who will often have a license for this data.  A preview is also available on ORO, full data is available from ORDO (ORDO is based on Digital Science infrastructure).  Altmetric data is reliant on there being a persistent identifier (in effect a Digital Object Identifier - DOI) for the publication and it being referenced in the ‘mention’.

Health Warning: The Altmetric score is not normalised and mentions may accrue for negative reasons (just like citations!)  Altmetric advise scrutinising the underlying data rather than taking the score as an indicator of the value or quality of any research output

PlumX (Supplied by Elsevier)

PlumX is a service exclusive to content published or indexed by Elsevier services e.g., journal titles on ScienceDirect, Scopus, Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN) & Mendeley. The service collects ‘mentions’ from similar sources to Altmetrics but presents them alongside traditional bibliometrics.


Overton is a service that specifically indexes documents from government agencies, Think Tanks and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that have cited scholarly articles and other policies from all over the world.  It may well be most useful when tracing ‘pathways to research impact’. Overton indexes: Government documents; White papers; Hearing transcripts; Committee reports; Position Statements; Policy briefs; Educational materials; Clinical guidelines & Blog posts (LSE Impact blogs).

Overton’s data is licensed by PlumX and is the most comprehensive coverage of policy. Introduction to Overton:  https://vimeo.com/713204496

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