Beyond the Impact Factor: altmetric and open access articles
The impact of academic research has long been measured using citations, mainly with the Journal Impact Factor being used to assess individual publications within it, it has been observed. However, the Impact Factor is a journal level – not an article level – metric and, as academic publishing and the surrounding discussion move increasingly onto the web, new tools to track and assess the impact of individual scientific publications have emerged.
These web-based approaches are starting to offer an article-level perspective of the way research is disseminated, discussed and integrated across the web. The hope is that a broader set of metrics to complement citations will eventually give a more comprehensive view of article impact, and help to make the most relevant and important publications discoverable to individuals, based on their interests.
Altmetric.com is seen as one of a growing number of web-based tools taking a novel approach to the assessment of scholarly impact – it aggregates the mentions on Twitter and social media sites, and coverage in online reference managers, mainstream news sources and blogs to present an overview of the interest a published article is receiving online.
To take impact factor to the article level, open access publisher BioMed Central has reportedly added the Altmetic.com ‘donut’ to the about page of published articles. The donut will display for articles receiving coverage which has been tracked by Altmetric.com, along with an article score.
BioMed plans to keep adding to this range of metrics and indicators as they continue to expose a fuller image of research impact.