Category Archives: sepsis

Altmetrics for my sepsis deaths paper

BMJ Open published a paper I wrote in August.

In preparation for a talk about the paper for my department, I had a look at the paper on the website. BMJ Open has a page of usage statistics for each paper, which shows that there are no citations of the paper. This is not unsurprising as its only four months since it was published. But then I saw that on the main papers page there is a section at the bottom called ‘Altmetric’.

I’ve reproduced the diagram here (by looking at the altmetric instructions for embedding badges):

This tells me that the paper has an altemtric score of 32 and, if you click on the diagram, will take you to altmetric’s website with further information. My paper is in the 98th centile of all articles tracked by altmetric. Is this a good thing? Surely being in the 98th centile is good?

Altmetric claims to make article level metrics easy and to track the impact of your papers beyond just citations. This is a good idea, since citations are not the only, or maybe even the main, purpose of research. I did this research in order to influence policy. Most policy makers would read papers, and may be influenced by them, but probably won’t write another research paper citing them. But what does altmetric track? It tracks tweets, newspaper articles, blogs etc. It does this by crawling the web looking for links to articles it tracks. So, the altmetric score can only ever reflect things that are written on the internet, and even then, only if they include a direct hyperlink to the source of the paper. Most policy doesn’t get made on the internet though.

Altmetric have at least done something to help produce actual data about the other impacts of research beyond citations, which is great. There is more to be done though, but I’m not quite sure how. And, I can’t help feeling pretty chuffed to be in the 98th centile of anything.

What do you think about Altmetrics? Are the numbers useful? What other alternative metrics should I look at for my paper?