Scholarly Impact Challenge

This guide contains 10 challenges for scholars to better understand and manage their online scholarly presence, as well as the impact and reach of their research.

Introduction to Altmetrics

Some Background

The term altmetrics, coined in 2010 in altmetrics: a manifesto, is defined as “the creation and study of new metrics based on the social web for analyzing, and informing scholarship.” (Priem, Taraborelli, Groth, and Neylon, 2010).

It’s easy to assume that altmetrics are all about social media (people tend to think of Twitter in particular), but that is only part of what they offer. By tracking links from all kinds of websites back to scholarly research, altmetrics can reveal references to and engagement with scholarship in the news, in policy documents, in syllabi, on scholarly blogs, and beyond.

This challenge introduces you to two tools that can give you insights into references to your work that go beyond citations: Altmetric and PlumX. Both are proprietary tools that search the web for "mentions" of research outputs, such as journal articles or book chapters, to show how readers are engaging with scholarly publications online. Mentions can appear in social media, scholarly blogs, news outlets, Wikipedia, citation managers like Mendeley, and more.

Popular Tools for Tracking Altmetrics

Altmetrics for Alternate Forms of Research

  • GitHub Metrics - GitHub captures metrics on code shared in their repositories, including stars (user bookmarks), forks (user copies), and pull requests (user suggestions for changes to the code).
  • Slideshare - If you have a Slideshare profile, you can access metrics on your uploaded content including views, actions (likes, downloads, comments, emails), and shares to Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Vimeo and YouTube metrics - Both Vimeo and YouTube track the number of views, likes, and comments on content uploaded to the sites.


Choose one of the following exercises to begin to familiarize yourself with altmetrics:

Activity 1 : Explore Begin by downloading the bookmarklet. Then, find an article in your discipline and use the bookmarklet to explore any altmetrics that exist for that article. Does your discipline use altmetrics? If so, how?

Activity 2: Track your own altmetrics. If you are a published author and you want to track your own altmetrics, set up an Impact Story profile--this requires a Twitter account and, ideally, an ORCID ID. Visit and follow the prompts.

License Statement

Content for this challenge of the Scholarly Impact Challenge has been derived from the University of Michigan's Research Impact Challenge and the University of Minnesota's Research Impact Challenge. Both challenges are licensed CC BY 4.0.