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Learn how to use altmetrics or alternative metrics

Types of altmetrics

There are many types of altmetrics. Some provide a count of document views or downloads, others provide ‘citation like’ metrics and some databases aggregate altmetrics to offer graphical representations of attention or mentions. Examples of these are aggregations are the PlumX Metrics ‘splat’ and the Altmetrics ‘donut’.

PlumX Metrics 'splat' Altmetrics 'donut'


These are graphical representations of altmetrics for the article by VUW researcher, Carolyn E. Wilshire and others, “Rethinking the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome – a reanalysis and evaluation of findings from a recent major trial of graded exercise and CBT” BMC Psychology, 6(1), Dec 2018.

Many Internet sites that host publications, such as publisher web sites and repositories, provide a raw count of the number of times a document is viewed or downloaded. These counts can be higher – and accumulate more quickly - than the number of citations a publication receives.


  • For articles indexed in the Scopus database, the altmetric PlumX Metrics (aka ‘the splat’ graphic), provides information about citations, usage (including views) and captures. PlumX Metrics is also used in the pre-print service SSRN, owned by Elsevier.

  • In SciVal, a researchers’ Scopus profile can be imported and analysed. The Overview module offers the following metrics for an individual researcher: views count, outputs in top views percentiles, views per publication and field-weighted views impact. These relate only to Scopus indexed publications but provide a weighted metric rather than a straight count.

A ‘mention’ is an instance of attention that is tracked on the Internet. For this to occur research outputs need to have an associated DOI and that DOI needs to be included in the text of the communication.

Open access publishing allows direct access to research via a hyperlinked DOI. Mentions can occur in social media such as twitter and facebook, news media or policy documents. When collated, the source of the mention or a discussion about research may be graphically presented as the ‘splat’ (PlumX) or ‘donut’ (Altmetrics).

Open access publishing allows direct access to research via a hyperlinked DOI.


  • Atmetric Explorer for Instititions – subscription database that defaults to VUW information, tracks research outputs mentioned in social media, news and blogs, policy and patents, academic sources. Each article has an Altmetric donut badge made up of differently weighted sources. The ‘Attention score in context’ tab provides measures of an article’s altmetrics in comparison with others. Use an ORCiD to search for an individual researcher in Altmetrics and analyse the results. There is a capacity to generate reports and set up alerts.
  • PlumX Metrics – used in the Scopus and SSRN databases for individual publications. In Scopus search for an article, click on ‘View all Metrics’. The mentions panel lists a count of attention. Click on the number or see details for further information.
  • ImpactStory Profiles - an open source tool that highlights altmetrics and non-traditional scholarly products. One of the ‘Our Research’ open source suite of products. It provides context to altmetrics to demonstrate impact.
  • Kudos Pro – a database specifically designed to increase reach and impact of research. There is free access for researchers. It provides an attractive platform to promote and monitor metrics and the platform includes a dashboard that tracks and collates views.

A measure of the number of times a document is saved or captured by researchers into the large searchable bibliographic site Mendeley (Elsevier).


  • The Altmetrics database displays the number of Mendeley users who have saved a research output to their library and provides a geographical and statistical breakdown. This information does not contribute to the Altmetric donut.
  • The PlumX Metrics used in Scopus provides a count of Mendeley readers. Click on the number to view further information in Mendeley.