Altmetrics – measure and manage the ‘buzz’ around your articles

Have you been seeing ‘donuts’ everywhere?   Two Doughnuts on a Plate

Not this kind of donut – I unfortunately can’t legitimately use an Altmetric donut graphic here – but you may well have seen the multi-coloured circles (‘donuts’) created by Altmetric appearing on journal websites, on citation databases such as Web of Science, and on researchers’ websites. If you don’t already know what altmetrics and the donuts are here is a brief guide.

Altmetrics are basically alternative metrics to the impact factor, and measure the impact of researchers’ publications beyond citations. This kind of impact is becoming increasingly important for researchers to demonstrate. In fact there is currently a government review (Independent review of the role of metrics in research assessment) taking place that is evaluating to what extent, if any, to include metrics in the next REF.

The company Altmetric for example has servers that watch social media sites, newspapers, and many other sources for mentions of scholarly articles and bring them together to compile article level metrics. They calculate an Altmetric ‘score’ and put this number in the centre of the donut. The colours reflect the mix of sources mentioning that score e.g. blue for Twitter, yellow for blogs, red for mainstream media sources etc. Altmetric does this on behalf of publishers, institutions, and researchers. Hence the donuts’ appearance on journal websites, databases and researchers’ websites.

Ways you can use the donut

For researchers, Altmetric provides a free bookmarklet, and free embeddable badges.

Once installed, the bookmarklet allows you to navigate to the desired journal article and hit “Altmetric it” in your browser’s bookmarks bar, and you’ll see the Altmetric donut, score, and metrics.

You can enhance your CV and publication lists on your personal website by adding Altmetric badges, including the donut. You just need the article’s identifier (e.g., a DOI, arXiv ID, etc.) and some simple lines of code. Clicking on the badge will take visitors to your website to a landing page hosted by Altmetric where they can see a score breakdown, the context and Twitter demographics for that article.

You can also use altmetrics to track articles and to receive email alerts when they receive new attention so you can keep up to date with who is mentioning your article and where.


Altmetric donuts are now displayed beside the citation counts on Symplectic (via Altmetric for Institutions).

Metrics, Kudos and the RSC

Altmetric donuts already appear on RSC journal websites.


You may also be interested in Kudos. According to their website:

Kudos is a free service for researchers through which you can explain, enrich, and share links to your publications to help increase readership and citations.

Kudos operates across publishers. Kudos can be used for any publication for which a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) has been registered with CrossRef and so articles, books, and book chapters can be uploaded.

The RSC is currently working with Kudos; find out more on this Chemistry Library blog post:

You can of course sign up to Kudos now for free, independently, to try it out; it might be useful to you as a one-stop shop for managing the buzz around your articles.

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