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Alternative Metrics

Alternative metrics (also referred to as altmetrics) are new metrics based on the social web and can be used for analyzing and informing the reach of your scholarship.


  • include social media activity, coverage in media outlets, and inclusion in policy documents or scholarly commentary 
  • are data tracked from discussions happening online
  • can be gathered from any online forum where research is being discussed, including social media, research blogs, public policy documents, news articles and more
  • measure the impact of scholarly and social use of research in a way that can be applicable to a wide variety of fields
  • measure how research is having an impact outside of the academy
  • are another methods of establishing the impact of your work and compliment established methods such as citation counts and impact factor
  • offer a greater sense of immediacy


Altmetrics are generated more quickly than traditional metrics, such as the impact factor, which permits the impact of your publications to be assessed much sooner. They provide broader and deeper insights into the impact of scholarly articles, researchers, universities, and other such things that lie outside the scope of traditional metrics. They can reveal how an article or piece of research affects diverse groups such as practitioners, educators and the general public

However, it can be difficult to use altmetrics comparatively between different disciplines, or even in the same discipline. Some disciplines are more active than others online, and some may favor particular social media tools that are used less often in other areas of scholarship. Fluctuations in the popularity of social media tools can reduce the reliability of altmetrics scores.


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Richard Hayman
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