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Databases that track citations: measuring research impact

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Alternative metrics - measuring impact

Alternative metrics are statistics sourced from the social web that can be used to help you understand the many ways that your work has had an impact with other scholars, the public, policy makers, practitioners, and more. 

Altmetrics can answer questions such as:

  • How many times was it downloaded?
  • Who is reading my work? (on Mendeley, bookmarking sites, etc.)
  • Was it covered by any news agencies?
  • Are other researchers commenting on it?
  • How many times was it shared? (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Which countries are looking at my research?

Pros and cons identified about these emerging metrics:


  • Fast
  • Allow assessment directly at the article level (rather than the journal)
  • Accommodate other products: posters, datasets, blog posts, etc.
  • Measure "hidden impact" (impact without citations)
  • Provide evidence of impact for CVs, tenure packages, & grant applications
  • Provide context and meaning for download counts
  • Provide evidence of public impact and engagement for funders & other stakeholders
  • Complementary to traditional citation-based metrics


  • Impact can be exaggerated through data manipulation ("gaming")
  • Can be difficult to interpret
  • Rely on 3rd-party data souces
  • Metrics can only be accurate if name and object information is accurate

Alternative Metrics Tools

TRU Library system is configured to provide alternative metrics for scholarly work through the library's search system - Discover and other Ebsco hosted databases.