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Journal Metrics: Alternative Scholarly Metrics

This guide describes what the journal impact factor (JIF or IF) is, criticisms of IF, how to use IF responsibly, and other journal IFs being developed by other organizations.

Alternative Scholarly Metrics and Measuring Scholarly Impact

Alternative Scholarly Metrics and Measuring Scholarly Impact

Around the year 2010, complaints with the traditional scholarly metrics of citation analysis bore fruit with the release of the Altimetrics tool for complementing citation analysis with other measures, including blog, Facebook and Twitter posts readership among other things to measure scholarly impact. While neither traditional citation analysis nor Altimetrics are perfect measures of impact, the idea caught on, and a number of other alternative measures were introduced, some of which are available to subscribers of particular database packages such as EBSCOHost. The following is an annotated list of some of the available alternative means of measuring scholarly impact.

  • – Article-level metrics based on social media (e.g., Twitter posts, Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, etc.), mainstream media, professional online sources such as LinkedIn and F1000, and post-publication peer reviews. Altimetric is a proprietary resource, which is currently not licensed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. However, there is a free Bookmarklet tool available for researchers at, which provides Altimetric scores for individual papers indexed in PubMed and other online databases.
  • Plum Analytics – PlumX Metrics allows article-level insights including social media likes and tweets, mentions in blogs, reviews and other posts, bookmarks and downloads, as well as traditional citations. PlumXMetrics are available for recent EBSCOHost  and other indexed references.

  • – Impactstory Profiles are freely available on the site, linking to the ORCID author profiles and providing measures of downloads, online mentions and views of publications.

These are just a few of the resources available to help scholars assess the impact of their research beyond traditional citation metrics. There are many more technologies and resources, with new ones appearing rapidly. A terrific resource for exploring and choosing metrics to fit the type of research product, impact type and discipline is the Metrics Toolkit, available from Oregon Health & Science University, IUPUI and Altmetrics.

Metrics toolkit homepage

Also, to keep up with advances in this area, check out blogs such as the Impactstory blog ( or figshare blog ( or see “101 innovations in Scholarly Communication – the Changing Research Workflow” 



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