Altmetric provides a suite of tools for collecting data that can show the impact of digital resources. Products include Altmetric Explorer, Altmetrics Badges, and the Altmetric Details Page API.
Altmetric Explorer, a subscription service, allows automatic monitoring and reporting of online activity surrounding digital objects. While largely targeted at universities looking to measure the impact of faculty research, it can be used to track impact of other digital library resources with canonical links, Handles, and other kinds of persistent identifiers.
Altmetric requires four things to be able to track engagement with a scholarly resource:
For most data sources, Altmetric works by monitoring the source for links to a specified domain name like a digital library website. Any time a link to said domain is shared in an Altmetric data source, Altmetric follows the link and looks for specific meta tags on the webpage. If the webpage meta tags include a persistent identifier like a Handle (among other metadata), Altmetric can verify that the page shared contains a scholarly object. Altmetric then indexes the mention of the scholarly object, associating it with other mentions to the same scholarly object. Note that Altmetric data sources like news and public policy mentions that require text mining cannot be used to detect mentions for digital library content, because the algorithms used to detect mentions of scholarly content do not accommodate textual features typical of citations to digital library records.
Altmetric Badges include the Altmetric Attention Score and donut, a visual badge attached to digital objects, quickly and concisely shows the amount and type of attention a digital object has received. Sources of “attention” include news, blogs, social media, Wikipedia, and citations. Current research outputs assessed include books, book chapters, journal articles, presentations, theses/dissertations, reports, conference proceedings, reviews, data sets, working papers, gray literature, clinical trials, and more. Some free tools are also available, such as Institutional Repository badges, Altmetric Explorer for academic librarians, and Altmetrics API.
Altmetric Badges can be used on item record pages for digital library content to quickly and concisely show the amount and sources of online attention a digital object has received. Sources of “attention” include news, blogs, social media, Wikipedia, and more. Current research outputs assessed include any scholarly object with a persistent identifier, including books, book chapters, journal articles, presentations, theses/dissertations, reports, conference proceedings, reviews, data sets, working papers, grey literature, clinical trials, and more.
Digital libraries interested in using Altmetric Explorer to track engagement with their online content should have two key technologies in place for the service to work: persistent identifiers minted for each item record to be tracked, and properly formatted site meta tags that share basic item record metadata. These requirements allow Altmetric to accurately track engagement for online scholarly resources in a manner that is relatively immune to link rot and misattribution.
Practitioners should follow the practices laid out in the “Ethical considerations and guidelines for the assessment of use and reuse of digital content.” The Guidelines are meant both to inform practitioners in their decision-making, and to model for users what they can expect from those who steward digital collections.