Altmetric pilots help Elsevier authors understand the impact of their articles

The colorful donut indicating impact in news and social media is now featured on various journal homepages and ScienceDirect

The academic community has traditionally looked to citation analysis to measure the impact of scientific and medical research. But with journal articles increasingly disseminated via online news and social media channels, new measures are coming to the fore.

Alternative metrics – or altmetrics – represent one of the innovative ways the reach of articles is now being assessed, and Elsevier has just launched two pilots featuring the highly-recognizable altmetric "donut."

The first pilot will feature donuts for a journal's top three rated articles displayed on the homepages of 33 Elsevier titles.

This rating is based on a social media traffic score given by; an article must have received at least one social media mention within the last six months to qualify. By clicking on the "view all" option beneath this list, visitors can review altmetric donuts for the top 10 articles.

An example of the pilot altmetric pod on the homepage of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

In both lists, the article name links to the full-text article on ScienceDirect, while the donut links to a breakdown of the news and social media mentions.

The pilot is led by Hans Zijlstra, Project Manager for Elsevier's STM Journals Project Management department. He said his team will be closely monitoring how much traffic the donuts receive over the coming six months, and depending on up-take, their aim is to make this available to all Elsevier journals.

They are still working on adding to the journal homepage the names of the authors for the top ranked articles. In addition, they plan to include the donuts for participating health and medical titles on their homepages on the Health Advance platform.

A parallel altmetric pilot for 25 journals will run on ScienceDirect, Elsevier's scientific database of journal articles and book chapters. The ScienceDirect pilot will have a greater focus on medical journals but there will be some overlap in titles between the two trials.

Hans ZijlstraFor some time now, Scopus, Elsevier's abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, has been offering donuts on articles for which the relevant metrics are available.

"These additional article metrics are intended to provide authors with extra insight into the various flavors of impact their research may achieve," Zijlstra said. "We believe altmetrics will help them select a journal for article submission by giving a clearer indication of where a journal's strengths and weaknesses lie."

What are altmetrics?

Altmetric bookmarkletThe altmetric algorithm computes an overall score taking into account the number of mentions the article receives and the importance of the sources. For example, news is weighted more than blogs, and blogs are weighted more than tweets. It also factors in the authoritativeness of the authors, so a mention by an expert in the field is worth more than a mention by a lay person. The visual representation — the altmetric donut — shows the proportional distribution of mentions by source type. Each source type displays a different color – blue for Twitter, yellow for blogs, and red for mainstream media sources. Links to the source data are also available.

Euan AdieThe most famous traditional metric, the Impact Factor, averages how often a journal is cited against the number of scholarly articles published in that journal. However, citations can take years to accrue.

One of the advantages of altmetrics is that the impact begins to be assessed from the moment the article is first posted online.

The pilot Altmetric pod for journal homepages has been developed by Elsevier's e-marketing team in cooperation with — a company founded by Euan Adie (@Stew), who won Elsevier's Apps for Science Challenge in 2011.

Download the Altmetric Bookmarklet

For further details on the social media reports, and to see the score for any article containing a DOI, download the Altmetric Bookmarklet from[divider]

Journals in the Altmetric Pilot

American Journal of Medicine
Applied Catalysis B: Environmental
Biological Conservation
Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Journal of Archaeological Science
Computers In Human Behavior
Energy Policy
Evolution and Human Behavior
Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta
Earth and Planetary Science Letters (EPSL)
International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Journal Of Econometrics
Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology
Marine Policy
Public Relations Review
Science of the Total Environment
Social Science & Medicine
Acta Astronautica
European Journal of Cancer
World Neurosurgery
Computers & Education
Journal of Hazardous Materials
Journal of Catalysis
Food Quality and Preference
NeuroImage: Clinical
International Journal of Surgery Case Reports
American Heart Journal


The Author

Linda WillemsAs Senior Researcher Communications Manager for Elsevier, Linda Willems (@willems_linda) oversees the Editors' Update website, a resource center designed to keep editors in touch with the latest developments in journal publishing, policies and initiatives. The site also hosts the quarterly Editors' Update newsletter, for which she is Editor-in-Chief. Willems, who is based in Amsterdam, is also on the team behind the Elsevier Journal Editors' Conferences program.

The image on the homepage includes a photo of Altmetric donuts taken by Euan Adie at the STM Innovations Seminar 2012.

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