Author: Rafael Repiso – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion


What are the Almetrics? They are metrics to measure the scientific activity, which origin is the register of information in digital platforms. Therefore, the first almetrics begin with Internet (number of views and downloads) and develop specially with the apparition of social and academic platforms in the context of the Web 2.0.

Which are the main metrics used nowadays?

The alternative metrics increase in the same way that appears web services that register and spread scientific works. In a recent article, Daniel Torres-Salinas, Álvaro Cabezas and Evaristo Jiménez (2013) proposed a classification of the main almetrics indicators:


We see how the altmetrics are not other thing that an exploitation of the register of information that the scientific articles let in different web platforms.

What should we take into account when interpreting some of the multiple alternative metrics?

The Altmetrics should be studied according to several aspects:

  1. Meaning. What does the indicator mean? What does it mean that an article has a retweet or share for Facebook? A basic problem is that people believes that Altmetrics substitute to the deified Impact Factor, but in fact, the greatest majority are not impact indicators, they contribute information, but over other dimensions.
  2. Diffussion. The greatest part of the Altmetrics tells us about the presence and prevalence in a digital context (Twitter, Facebook, Mendeley, Blogs, etc.). We can say that in general terms the Altmetrics tell about diffusion. The key is to distinguish what is a good or bad diffusion. To have 5 tweets is a good diffusion?
  3. Effort and strength of the indicator. Other basic aspect to evaluate altmetrics is the effort that costs to make registers. Moreover, we should think if there exists other type of filter that regulates its production. For example, to create a tweet about an article is easy and nobody can avoid it. While citing an article is complicated because first you have to make a work since which citing it and second publishing it with the natural filters. It is for that reason that many altmetrics are especially easy to manipulate. Does it have sense to regulate us?

In short the Altmetrics are new indicators that contribute information about different dimensions, which we did not have a way to measure.

Torres, D., Cabezas, Á., & Jiménez, E. (2013). Altmetrics: new indicators for scientific communication in Web 2.0. Comunicar, 21 (41).

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