How can journal editors use Altmetric data?

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Thu Aug 27 2015

Author: Guest contributor

About this series: Through August and September we are publishing a series of posts authored by some of the team at Altmetric, a data science company who provide such attention data to authors, publishers, institutions and funders. The posts will discuss, amongst other topics, using altmetrics within your C.V.s and grant applications, and how journal editors can make use of the tools. Learn more about the series by starting with the first post here. This particular post is authored by guest blogger Fran Davies. 

See/monitor the online conversations surrounding your published articles

Citation counts and the journal Impact Factor (JIF) are useful ways of seeing how an article has been received in the academic community; altmetrics can be a useful way of seeing how that same article has been received beyond the academic sphere. An Altmetric details page allows you to see who has been talking about an article, what they’ve been saying about it, and where the attention came from. The quickest way to view the full details pages for a Springer article is to install the Altmetric bookmarklet on your bookmarks bar. Simply click the bookmarklet when visiting pages like this.

BookMarklet_8.27_1-1024x683 © ©SpringerNature

One of the big advantages of the data is that you can see how conversations around research develop in real time; the majority of the online attention we see for an article is posted in the first couple of weeks after publication. For example, the information on the left hand side of this details page tells us that this article (about the benefits of green tea) has been mentioned in a wide range of sources, including mainstream news sources, blogs, Twitter, Sina Weibo, Youtube and Reddit. The article also has 51 Mendeley readers, which suggests it has proved popular amongst users of academic reference managers, as well as users of general social media platforms. You can click through to the original mentions to read the news stories and blog posts about an article, view the profiles of people who have shared the article on social media, and potentially engage with them.

Using the interactive maps on the Summary Tab, you can view and monitor the global reach of an article. For example, you can see that this article has accumulated Mendeley readers from the US, the UK and Germany. If you wanted to delve even further into this data, you could view counts of the readers by professional status and by discipline (see screenshot below).

Demographics_8.27_2 © ©SpringerNature

Having this real-time insight into how the research published in your journal has been received enables you to more easily and accurately monitor the online dissemination and interpretation of your content, and can be helpful for correcting any misconceptions or misinterpretations, should they occur.

View the data at journal level

The “score in context” data can help you see the attention levels for an article, within the context of the journal it was published in. The contextual data for this article tells you that the article is ranked 6th in a list of all articles with Altmetric scores published in that journal, and that it has the highest score of a list of 15 articles published in that journal at around the same time. You can also see how highly an article has scored in relation to all research outputs with Altmetric scores; this article is in the “top 5% of all articles tracked by Altmetric”. This data can be useful for benchmarking against other journals or within a journal, but it’s worth remembering that the score isn’t a measure of the quality of a paper; it’s simply a weighted count of the amount of attention we’ve picked up for a research output.

Discover new and interesting content and authors

You can use the bookmarklet to view the details pages for publications outside your journal discipline, to try and gauge which research topics get a lot of media attention, and which topics are trending. This data could be useful if you’re looking to expand your list and thinking about which areas to start publishing into. Looking at the headlines of the news stories associated with an article can be useful when determining what information and/or “message” has been extracted from a piece of research, and how that message has been communicated to the general public.

You can also use the social media and blog data to get a better idea of which academic disciplines have active online communities, and to identify high profile authors who you might like to invite to submit an article to your publication.

Use the data to inform promotional strategies

  • If an article from one of the journals you manage has attracted a lot of attention, or attention from an unexpected place, why not include this in an editorial report, or highlight it in a board meeting?
  • If lots of articles from the same journal show (for example) lots of Twitter mentions but little Facebook or Youtube data, if might be worth talking to marketing colleagues about setting up a Facebook page or YouTube channel for that journal, to promote the articles across a wider audience.
  • If you’re launching a new journal, you can use the Altmetric data for existing journals in the same field to work out which online channels you’d like to use to communicate the research, and how to engage the right audience for that content.
  • Why not consider creating some topical online special issues featuring the most popular articles from across your archive based on specific themes? For example, you could time the publication of this to coincide with a national day or an evolving news story.

We hope this post has provided some useful ideas for how journal editors can use the data. As always, feedback and suggestions are welcome. Thanks for reading!


Author: Guest contributor

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