In the previous module, we looked at traditional citation metrics and their databases. These can give us some helpful insights into the standards and history of journals, and may be an important factor in guiding your submission. However, we are now capable of tracking many more means of science communication than just citations.
These metrics monitor mentions of individual articles and research outputs across a wide range of sources including traditional citations, but extending to public policy documents, mainstream media newspapers, blogs and websites, online reference managers, post-publication review sites, Wikipedia, and of course social media platforms.
These metrics can work in two key ways for you as an author and researcher:
When identifying a suitable journal to submit to, the altmetric information can work alongside the aims and scope to help you understand the journal’s audience, who they are reaching, and how immediately people are engaging with papers.
By investigating the altmetrics, you may also be able to determine whether the publisher or journal provide and perform any marketing and promotion of articles. Does the journal have a lot of news media mentions, or blog entries? Does it have its own Twitter account to post about the articles it publishes? Does the account have an audience?
Beyond journal selection, altmetrics are a powerful tool for helping you know who is discussing your research and what they are saying about it. You can use the altmetric information from a subject area to identify audiences that may be interested in reading your work, and help you enhance, increase and further the impact and presence of your paper.
Altmetric information can help you demonstrate different forms of impact to funders and review panels. Being able to show comments from prominent subject area figures, or application of your work in social discourse or public policy could add a valuable complement to more traditional citation metrics.
Some publishers offer additional author services, or will help guide you through altmetrics and get set up with accounts in platforms such as Kudos or Impact Story, which can help you manage your promotional activity of your work. The more support the journal offers their authors, the better, and assisting with promotion of articles may be a valuable criterion for you in deciding where to submit your work.