Alternative metrics, or “altmetrics” as they are more commonly known, are redefining how the research community measures impact. Plum Analytics is a pioneer in this field and has become the most comprehensive source of altmetrics available. And now that we’re joining Elsevier, more researchers and institutions will be able to use them!
My friend Mike Buschman and I founded Plum Analytics in 2012 while working together on library search and discovery. We started asking questions about the most important research to put at the top of a result list. Should it be the most recent or the one with the most citations? Those two were in conflict because accumulating significant citations to research can take years. That got us thinking about the problem of determining the “best” research and what that even means.
We quit our jobs to form a new company together. At about the same time, the article-level metrics and the altmetrics movements were forming and gaining recognition.
While our vision had many things in common with these movements, we also had some significant differences. First, we always thought of research output as more comprehensive than just articles. For example, from the beginning, we have had a focus on books and have built robust research metrics to help tell the story.
Second, we always felt that it was important to display different kinds of research metrics together, including usage and citations, along with newer indicators such as social media.
Third, we felt that long-term success in changing how researchers could tell their story was dependent upon building a sustainable business model for Plum Analytics. We wanted to make sure we could provide solutions and support to our future customers for the long term.
Mostly though, we were dedicated to the idea of helping researchers and research institutions tell their stories so they could continue making important research discoveries.
One of the first things we tackled in defining this new space was to create the five categories of metrics. When we started gathering data that is created when people interact with research online, we quickly realized that we needed a way to provide meaningful information and analysis. So we created five categories, each of which tells a different story: Usage, Captures, Mentions, Social Media and Citations.
Fast-forward to today and we have customers in over 52 countries worldwide. We now track 67 types of research output, from articles to books and book chapters, videos and many others. We track research metrics on more than 52 million different research artifacts, making PlumX by far the largest collection of altmetrics available. We created the Plum Print, which is an at-a-glance metrics visualization tool that can be embedded into institutional repositories, publishing platforms, discovery services and researchers’ online CVs.
A new chapter
Combining with Elsevier means we can take our approach to measuring research impact to a wider audience. We will benefit from greater development resources and access to a global network. Our founding vision was to bring modern ways of measuring research impact to individuals and organizations that use and analyze research. I’m incredibly proud that we achieved this, and I’m looking forward to this exciting new chapter with Elsevier.
For current Plum Analytics customers and users, moving over from EBSCO to Elsevier will just be business as usual. The Plum Analytics support team will continue to be available to answer questions, help with implementations, etc. We look forward to working with our customers on how they can use the growing set of metrics to support their researchers and answer some of the questions around research. You can reach the support team by emailing Support@plumanalytics.com.
I will continue as Managing Director of Plum Analytics but will now also work with Elsevier’s CiteScore basket of metrics and research analytics products to provide a rich environment to analyze, understand and measure research impact.
I believe combining with Elsevier will help our customers and the adoption of altmetrics industry-wide in important ways. We will be sharing our plans in more detail over the coming months, but we anticipate leveraging the rich data from Elsevier as well as continuing to tell a more complete story of how research is being engaged with. PlumX already includes Capture metrics from Mendeley and Citation metrics from Scopus. You can expect the level of integration to go up, and PlumX metrics to also be included in both these products. Plus we’ll integrate Plum Analytics’ altmetrics into Elsevier’s institutional research products SciVal and Pure.
I’m thankful for the great team at Plum Analytics, our customers who have helped shape which metrics they want to see and how they want to use them – and all the support we’ve been given to continue our mission of telling the story of research.
Chronology of Plum Analytics
- January 2012: Plum Analytics was founded by Andrea Michalek and Mike Buschman, MLIS.
- December 2013: PlumX was named Library Journal’s Most Ambitious Database of 2013.
- January 2014: EBSCO Information Services acquired Plum Analytics. This allowed them to grow their startup and proceed on their mission of telling the story of the world’s research.
- August 2015: Plum Analytics extended its use of research metrics to create a suite of products, from tracking the impact of grants (PlumX +Grants), to benchmarking (PlumX Benchmarks), to including metrics in Institutional Repositories (PlumX Metrics).
- February 2017: Plum Analytics is acquired by Elsevier.