Altmetrics (short for alternative metrics) are an alternative way of measuring research impact. These are available from a number of providers and may include views, downloads, bookmarks and social media mentions. These indicators have emerged in response to the limitations of traditional citation metrics such as Impact Factor. They are particularly useful for measuring social impact or engagement from outside of academia
Research Impact & Visibility: Traditional and Altmetrics (Utrecht University Library) covers traditional and altmetrics, providing further details and tools for measuring impact factors. Similarly, the Metrics Toolkit contains information on various altmetrics, including appropriate and inappropriate use cases.
Because altmetrics are gathered in near real-time, they allow researchers to gain insight into how people are engaging with their work much earlier than traditional metrics, and some research indicates that altmetric attention is a predictor of future citations.
Examples of Altmetrics
Altmetric is a commercial provider that tracks a range of activity around scholarly content, including Mendeley readership, social media and policy mentions. They also provide the Altmetric bookmarklet, a free tool which allows access to the attention data for any research output with a DOI.
ResearchGate and Academia.edu both have their own analytics, which take a number of factors into account. However these metrics are limited in scope and have been criticised for their lack of transparency.