Altmetrics: an overview and evaluation

Publication Date12 June 2017
Pages311-317
Date12 June 2017
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-10-2016-0294
AuthorAnn E. Williams
SubjectLibrary & information science,Information behaviour & retrieval,Collection building & management,Bibliometrics,Databases,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet,Records management & preservation,Document management
Altmetrics: an overview
and evaluation
Ann E. Williams
Department of Communication, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview and critique of altmetrics, an understudied
yet increasingly important arena of study for scholars, academics, and professional researchers.
Design/methodology/approach The paper is organized int o six parts: the first defines altmetric s; the
second examines how alt metrics work; the third presents multiple typologies un der which altmetrics can be
classified and studie d; the fourth details th e technological capabi lities of altmetrics ; the fifth presents a
critical evaluation o f the pros and consof altmetrics; and, the sixth o utlines some directions for fut ure and
ongoing research.
Findings The conclusions detail the strengths and limitations of altmetrics and point toward avenues for
continued research and development.
Originality/value This paper is among the first to provide a substantive review and evaluation of
altmetrics for academics to consider when adopting, utilizing, and researching these tools.
Keywords Altmetrics, Research impact, Academic networks
Paper type Research paper
Altmetrics: an overview
The primary purpose of this paper is to provide a description, overview, and evaluation of
altmetrics, an understudied yet increasingly important arena of study for scholars,
academics, and professional researchers. The paper is organized into six parts: the first
defines altmetrics and clarifies the concept of altmetrics in its various forms; the second
examines how altmetrics work; the third presents multiple typologies under which
altmetrics can be classified and studied; the fourth details the technological capabilities of
altmetrics; the fifth presents a critical evaluation of the pros and consof altmetrics; and,
the sixth outlines some directions for future and ongoing research.
What are altmetrics?
Altmetrics are measurements of how people interact with a given scholarly work. They aim
to measure web-driven scholarly interactions, such as how often research is tweeted,
blogged about, or bookmarked (Howard, 2012; Robinson-García et al., 2014). Altmetrics.org
and Altmetric.com are web-based sites that promote the use of altmetrics.
Altmetrics.orgis a site created, developed, and maintained by scholars and appdesigners
who share a commitmentto the creation and studyof new metrics based on the socialweb for
analyzing, and informing scholarship(Priem et al., 2010; http://altmetrics.org/about).
Altmetrics.org is concerned with the promotion of altmetric apps (i.e. ImpactStory,
ReaderMeter, ScienceCard, PLoS Impact Explorer, PaperCritic, and Crowdometer).
Altmeric.com is a commercial website, partnered with major publishers, which functions
as an open tool and data provider to supply qualitative and quantitative data that
complements traditional, citation-based measurements. Altmetric.com is concerned with the
promotion and circulation of its products in connection with major academic publishers,
institutions, and funders (e.g. Taylor & Francis, Wiley, The London School of Economics,
and the Smithsonian). Online Information Review
Vol. 41 No. 3, 2017
pp. 311-317
© Emerald PublishingLimited
1468-4527
DOI 10.1108/OIR-10-2016-0294
Received 5 October 2016
Revised 5 October 2016
Accepted 3 March 2017
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1468-4527.htm
The author would like to thank Seifu Adem for his research assistance.
311
Altmetrics: an
overview and
evaluation

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