The world of academia is booming. Advancements in digital technology make it possible to research more efficiently and share work with ease. The result is a massive volume of published articles and reports. There is not enough time in the day to even open all the links in your twitter feed, much less to read even a small portion of new scholarly publications.

Bibliometrics is a tool used by the academic community to measure the number of times an article is cited within academic journals. The implication is that the more a paper is cited the more impact it has. It’s kind of like the front page of the newspaper or a website. The highlights are presented up front so the reader doesn’t have to spend time combing through the rest of the paper to find articles of interest.

Metrics are a useful tool for navigating the massive volume of scholarly research being published. Alternative metrics (Altmetrics) are used to count to the number of citations an article has in non-traditional scholarly outputs. Also termed ‘grey literature’, non-traditional outputs include but are not limited to blog posts, presentations, academic posters, websites, social media, news articles.

One specific company offering an altmetric service is appropriately named Altmetric. While experimenting with the Explorer during this week’s lab session, I noticed a few similarities between it and the TAGS app I wrote about last week.

One obvious difference is that Altmetric sells its service while the TAGS app is available to anyone with a Twitter account and Google Sheets. The reason for that difference is technology based. Calculating altmertics requires a professional standard computing power, thus the client is paying for that service. TAGS is an API mashup of code offered for free by Twitter and Google. Running one simple search at a time is manageable on an individual computer. Altmetric has an advantage that by searching an article and not just a search phrase

Altmetric is still in its early stages, only a 0.1 product. There is room for more development to improve accuracy and reliability. One example of its limitations is the bias toward journals in the scientific community and not the humanities or social sciences. In the future we hope to see further expansion  into other fields.