Indian Journal of Dental Research

: 2019  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 125--126

Altmetrics: A new paradigm for scholarly communication

Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat1, Arunima Chauhan2,  
1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Century International Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre, Kasaragod, Kerala, India
2 Department of Oral Biology, Faculty of Dentistry, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Arunima Chauhan
Department of Oral Biology, Faculty of Dentistry, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal - 576 104, Karnataka


Counting citations have been the usual norm to determine the impact of any research and/or scholar. However, with majority of the scholarly activities happening on the World Wide Web, traditional counting of citations is now being termed “slower.” The recent explosion of online data storage for many articles may serve as a pool which uses social media sites to navigate. Altmetrics has been proposed as the new entity which aims to change the focus of the scholarly reward system to value and encourage web-native scholarship. This paper makes an attempt to understand altmetrics.

How to cite this article:
Shekhawat KS, Chauhan A. Altmetrics: A new paradigm for scholarly communication.Indian J Dent Res 2019;30:125-126

How to cite this URL:
Shekhawat KS, Chauhan A. Altmetrics: A new paradigm for scholarly communication. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Sep 27 ];30:125-126
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Full Text


“No one can read everything, we rely on filters to make sense of scholarly literature, but the narrow traditional filters are being swamped… we call for more tools and research based on altmetrics.”[1]

The above quote signaled the emergence of altmetrics to investigate the use of social media in research evaluation. Although altmetrics does not have a widely accepted definition, the idea with altmetrics is that the mentions and other indicators of visibility and awareness of a research article and other research products get in social media could tell something about the impact or influence of that research.[2]

 Concept of Altmetrics

There is an apparent shift in scholarly communication as researchers are inclining toward social media for various research activities. Researchers are using social media for various purposes such as collaborative authoring, instant messaging, and scheduling meetings, as well as for discovering new research ideas and sharing their own or others' research results.[3] This informal scholarly communication over social media leaves a sort of trails or traces[2] in the virtual world which can be automatically collected and mined to identify any new knowledge, determine the importance of any research work, or harness the collective interest of the scientific community or general population toward a particular topic. Simply put, the ways in which research scholars share, discover, and interpret others' research can be studied to track impact of any research.

 Data Source for Altmetrics

Online reference managers Zotero and Mendeley each claim to store over 40 million articles and as many as one-third of scholars are on Twitter and a growing number on scholarly blogs.[1] The visibility and acknowledgement of a research/researcher receive on various social networking sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Mendeley, Pinterest, Facebook, and many more[4] only catalyze the success of altmetrics, as large-scale data can be automatically harnessed through application programming interfaces (APIs). Across diverse social media, Facebook and Twitter, have been suggested to promote information sharing[5] whereas social bookmarking sites such as Mendeley have been suggested to be potential data sources for altmetrics.[6] Earlier research has shown that articles that are mentioned in Wikipedia have higher citation counts, scholarly blogs have also been found to have an important role in disseminating research, and so-called blog citations have been suggested as an altmetric measure.[7],[8],[9]

 How Does it Work?

The usage of social web services by scholars provides raw data in the form of activities that might be reflected by altmetrics. For example, Mendeley is presumably used to store academic references which users might have already read or may plan to read in the future. The counts of article “readers” in Mendeley might, therefore, be similar to citation counts representing the impact of an article.

In comparison to Mendeley, Twitter has a wider user base; Twitter seems to be particularly suited for research information sharing as it provides an easy way to share information to one's followers, who in their turn can forward the information to their followers. Twitter also makes an excellent object for the study as researchers can to some extent download and filter tweets through the Twitter API.[2]

 Evidence for Altmetrics

The most practical way to demonstrate the value of altmetrics is to show that it can be used to predict the number of future citations to articles. Altmetrics also provides more timely data. Tweets and mentions on Facebook can be shared immediately after the publication of a research product. In fact, earlier research has shown a connection between the number of tweets about research articles on Twitter and the numbers of citations those articles later receive.

Another way of providing evidence for altmetrics is to emphasize that their values correlate with citation counts. Thelwall et al. in 2013 investigated 11 altmetrics and up to 208,739 PubMed articles for 18 months and found that most altmetrics had a statistically significant positive correlation with citations, but one that was too small to be of practical significance.[10]


It seems that altmetrics may prove to be a valuable indicator of impact and hence altmetrics needs to be standardized, calibrated, and refined over time which can permit valid comparisons or permit comparisons at the same time. There are studies which do not approve of altmetrics alone, as the only metric system.[11] Still in infancy, altmetrics are not perfect[12] and hence needs to be researched extensively before one can conclusively label altmetrics as a new entity in measuring the impact of research or researcher.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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