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Research metrics

A guide to identifying and analysing research-related metrics, with support material and further guidance.for related tools


Altmetric is a database of research papers and their mentions or citations in various non-traditional sources. It allows us to measure the impact of research in the wider world outside of academia.

It covers around 46 million research papers, of which 25 million have some form of mention. This includes social media such as Twitter or Facebook, news media, blogs, policy documents, and other sources such as patents or citations on Wikipedia.

It can be used to assess the broader impact of research, or to do a deep dive to look at the details of the response to a paper on social media.

Many publishers and repositories will include an Altmetric "badge" for each paper (example below) - the score is an indicative value of how much attention it has had, and the colours provide a rough demonstration of which sources are most common. You can then click through to see the specific details for that paper without having to look it up on the Altmetric Explorer.

Accessing Altmetric

To access Altmetric you will need an individual user account. You will need to register one using your UCL email address. The first time you do this you may need to be on the UCL network so that you can be authenticated as a valid user.

While you do need to register, access is available for everyone at UCL.

UCL Altmetric data

The "My Institution" tool in Altmetric Explorer allows you access to a curated set of data about papers published at UCL.

When you access the database, it will by default be looking at the full Altmetric database; you can switch to the UCL data using "edit search" and changing the tick-box at the top right.

Using the "Verified author" or "Verified department" field will let you do your search using the internal hierarchy of papers - for example, "papers from Brain Sciences" or "papers from the Institute of Neurology". The departments are hierarchical so that Brain Sciences includes all papers from Neurology, etc.

The underlying data is drawn from RPS and so it reflects only papers known to have been published by UCL authors. Department affiliations are based on the current primary affiliation of the author, and in some cases it may include some "retroactive" papers from people who have moved to UCL and filled their older papers into the system.

Data is provided for papers from 2013 onwards. It is updated roughly monthly, but can be incomplete for recent months as it takes time for papers to be recorded in RPS and to be listed by InCites.

Video guide

This guide to the Altmetric Explorer will walk you through some of the key features. If you would like a more detailed introduction, please do get in touch and we can arrange a training session.