Skip to Main Content

Research Metrics

This guide will help you understand research metrics about authors, articles/books, and journals.

General Information

Although citation count has been the most traditional article metric, more recently, authors and universities are using other metrics that complement this information. These are sometimes termed “altmetrics” (an abbreviation of “article-level metrics or alternate metrics) but to avoid confusion with the product Altmetrics, we will refer to them as alternative article metrics. 

The following list highlights what can be captured by alternative article metrics:

  • Number of times viewed
  • Number of times downloaded
  • Number of times shared on various social media sites
    • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
    • Podcasts
  • Number of times covered by news outlets
    • Print
    • Online
    • Interviews


Tools that Provide Additional Article Metrics:

The following are three common tools that provide alternative article metrics.

Some databases (e.g., Scopus) and journals (e.g., those published by Elsevier) display PlumX Metrics with each article. BYU's institutional repository, linked below, also displays PlumX Metrics.

The following boxes provide screenshots of what alternative article metrics are displayed when using Altmetrics, PlumX Metrics, Mendeley, and BYU ScholarsArchive.

Altmetrics for Researchers

Altmetrics provides various tools to view article metrics. Some tools require a subscription (e.g., Explorer for Institutions), while others (i.e., Altmetric Bookmarklet, Altmetric badges, and Altmetric API) are free to use.

The following example shows screenshots from the Bookmarklet tool. First, fill out and submit the form (shown below). Note that you will need to use an educational email (e.g., when filling out the form.

Altmetrics Form

Once the form is submitted, the screen will change and show a new blue button as seen in the picture below. You do not simply click this button, but instead should click and drag the button to the bookmark bar of your browser as indicated by the black arrow. This will add the “Altmetric it!” button to the bookmark bar, which is how you will access the article information.

Altmetrics Bookmark Button

When you access a research article from a database or general internet search, press the “Altmetric it!” bookmark button. This will open up a small box in the top right corner of the browser, which will display alternative metrics for the article such as shares on different social media networks, citations, and more.

The Altmetrics website gives the following warning “The Bookmarklet only works on PubMed, arXiv or pages containing a DOI with Google Scholar friendly citation metadata”. In other words, this method works only if you are browsing on PubMed/arXiv or if there is a visible DOI address on the page for the article. If the article data still doesn’t appear, Altmetrics suggests refreshing the page, then highlighting the DOI address with your cursor before pressing the “Altmetric it!” button.

Here is a sample image of the the popup box:

Altmetric Booklet Example

If you click on the popup box, a more detailed page will load with information about where the article is being mentioned in the news, blogs, policy documents, Twitter, and Wikipedia. The number inside the circle (in this case, 38), is the Altmetric Attention Score, or "a weighted count of the amount of attention" the research output has received. Read more about the algorithm for this metric here.

Detailed View of Altmetrics Bookmarklet Data


PlumX Metrics

PlumX is an article metrics provider that works in conjunction with databases such as Scopus and other Elsevier published databases. PlumX provides information about an article divided into five categories: citations, usage, captures, mentions, and social media. Examples and descriptions of these categories can be found here.

When an article is selected from a database, you will either see a button labeled “PlumX Metrics” or the information will appear as part of the page. 

This following example shows PlumX metrics in Scopus. When you have clicked into an article record after conducting a search, there is a box on the right labeled “Metrics.” Click on the PlumX Metrics drop down button to expand the box view.
PlumX in Scopus

If you click on the “see details” button at the bottom, the page will show graphic visualizations and a more detailed breakdown of the article's metrics. 

PlumX Details on Scopus

If you click on "see details" on this page, you see expanded details and links to news articles, twitter mentions, etc.:

PlumX Full Detail


Mendeley Readers

Mendeley is best known as a reference manager. When you open an article record within Mendeley, a "readers" statistic is shown. This refers to the number of individuals who have added a particular article to their Mendeley reference library.

Mendeley Readers


BYU ScholarsArchive

BYU faculty can upload copyright compliant versions of their publications to BYU's institutional repository ScholarsArchive. ScholarsArchive shows article-level metrics through PlumX. These can be easily accessed from the details page of an article by rolling your cursor over the PlumX Metrics box on the right hand side of the page. This will cause a box to appear to the left containing the article metrics for your viewing. An example is given in the picture below. You can click "see details" to see a more comprehensive view (as shown in the PlumX box on this page).

PlumX Metrics on ScholarsArchive

When logged in, faculty can view their author dashboard and see readership and download metrics related to any publications uploaded to ScholarsArchive.

Here is a screenshot of downloads over time:

ScholarsArchive Downloads View

And here is a screenshot of readership distribution:

ScholarsArchive Reader Distribution