Basic information

  • URL:
  • Cost: Varies: includes both free and institutional version offered with subscription to Digital Commons or Pure.
  • Open source: No

How to use this tool for use/reuse assessment

PlumX is an altmetrics service that allows automatic monitoring and reporting of online activity surrounding scholarly digital objects. While largely targeted at universities looking to measure impact of faculty research, it can be used to track impact of other digital library resources with DOIs, Handles, and other kinds of persistent identifiers.

Though PlumX is best known for its flagship PlumX Metrics dashboard product, the service is now offered through a PlumX integration into existing dashboards within Digital Commons institutional repository software and the research information management system, Pure. These integrated metrics are viewable, sortable, and exportable in a manner similar to the legacy PlumX Metrics dashboard product. A Digital Commons platform subscription is required for digital libraries interested in using PlumX data to assess their collections at scale; collections would need to be hosted on the Digital Commons platform.

Users interested in gathering “one-off” PlumX data for a digital object that has a DOI can use the free PlumX Metrics artifact widget1. The PlumX Metrics artifact widget is also freely available for objects that have a DOI and can be integrated into item record pages for digital objects, quickly and concisely showing the amount and type of attention a digital object has received.

PlumX metrics include news, blogs, social media, and Wikipedia mentions, citations, and usage statistics. Several PlumX metrics data sources are historical (e.g., EBSCO or CiteULike metrics) and/or offered only to past subscribers of the PlumX Metrics dashboard that had previously reported their data to PlumX (e.g., ePrints usage statistics).

There are 67 different types of digital objects that PlumX can gather metrics about including traditional scholarly outputs (articles, books, datasets) to audio files, images, maps, and much more.

PlumX requires that an output has three things:

  • A digital presence (i.e. item record page)

  • A persistent identifier (e.g. a Handle)

  • A link or mention of the scholarly object in a source that PlumX tracks (e.g. a link to the photograph on Twitter).

For most data sources, PlumX 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 PlumX data source, PlumX follows the link and looks for specific meta tags on the webpage. In some cases, PlumX attempts to match persistent identifiers found in an item record page to other known identifiers in their database, or perform string matching to identify persistent identifiers URLs that have been shared in a post. If the webpage meta tags include a persistent identifier like a Handle (among other metadata), PlumX can verify that the page shared contains a scholarly object. PlumX then indexes the mention of the scholarly object, associating it with other mentions to the same scholarly object.

Digital libraries interested in using PlumX Metrics artifact widgets to track engagement with their online content should have two key technologies in place for the service to work: persistent identifiers (ideally DOIs) minted for each item record to be tracked, and properly formatted site meta tags that  share basic item record metadata in Dublin Core format. These requirements allow PlumX to accurately track engagement for online scholarly resources in a manner that is relatively immune to link rot and misattribution.

Ethical guidelines

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.

Additional guidelines for responsible practice

According to Plum Analytics’ parent company (Elsevier) they can collect a wide range of user data based on direct user input, third-party sources, and through automated technologies. This data includes a) personally identifiable data about users such as name, email address, postal address, phone number, social media handle, usernames and passwords, password hints and similar security information, b) device and usage data, and c) profile information, such as “educational, professional and other background information, such as your field of study, current position, practice area and areas of interests, gender, ORCID ID and photo.” and d) payment information such as credit or debit card numbers and government-issued ID numbers.

Plum Analytics’ privacy policy also states that they may use and share personal information with a user’s institution, all of Elsevier’s companies and service providers, and to legal entities as necessary. Additionally, personal information “may be stored and processed in your region or another country where Elsevier companies and their service providers maintain servers and facilities, including Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.” 2



  • Free PlumX Metrics artifact widgets can be installed for repositories and digital collections with DOIs
  • Because it is owned by Elsevier it has a wider array of data sources than other altmetric aggregators such as Altmetric.
  • Can assess a wide variety of digital object types.
  • Fully integrated into Digital Commons, a widely used institutional repository platform.
  • Provides reliable user support.
  • Users can track PlumX altmetrics for digital library content in a Digital Commons collection using the Digital Commons reporting dashboard, allowing for reporting at scale.
  • Plum Analytics platform integration includes 1Finder, Digital Commons, Engineering Village, Mendeley, Pure, Science Direct, Scopus and SSRN to increase the visibility of alternative metrics.

  Citation analysis

  • PlumX uses APIs and data downloads to access all the metrics data to allow for analysis at many levels.
  • Citation counts measure how many times the research has been cited by others alongside other modern metrics to allow for a side-by-side comparison.
  • Citation analysis also includes patent citations, clinical citations, and policy citations to help indicate societal impact of the object.
  • PlumX tracks multiple versions of the same article such as pre-print, open access, and publisher copies.
  • Plum Analytics platform integration includes 1Finder, Digital Commons, Engineering Village, Mendeley, Pure, Science Direct, Scopus, and SSRN to increase the visibility of alternative metrics.



  • Requires certain types of identifiers to track impact, and the required identifiers are less likely to be available for cultural heritage-based digital objects and collections.
  • Common digital library platforms like ContentDM typically do not use website meta tags that allow PlumX to index digital objects. However, this is not an issue for digital objects that are issued a DOI; PlumX gathers metadata for those objects from other sources like Crossref.
  • Changes to digital library websites that alter the base URL or meta tags can cause problems for PlumX’s ability to track mentions.
  • Requires a Digital Commons subscription to assess digital library engagement at scale.
  • While use of the PlumX Metrics widget to retrieve altmetrics for a single scholarly work can be convenient, we do not recommend using the widget to collect data at the collection or digital library level, given the amount of work required for manual data collection.PlumX is owned by Elsevier and users do not have full control over how their data is managed or used.

  Citation analysis

  • PlumX searches fewer sources for citation analysis compared to dedicated citation analysis tools like Mendeley or Google Scholar.
  • The citation analysis process is not as immediately user-friendly compared to Mendeley or Google Scholar.

Real world examples

  • Wright State University Special Collections and Archives
    Example of a Digital Commons-hosted special collection with integrated PlumX Metrics artifact widgets on item record pages.

    Wright State University. (2021). Special Collections and Archives.

  • Alternative assessment tools and techniques for digital collections
    Whitepaper outlining alternatives to citation metrics, including altmetrics, and how they can be used to assess use/reuse of digitized special collections and institutional repositories. Includes an overview of Google Alerts and Mention.

    Konkiel, Stacy; Dalmau, Michelle; Scherer, David. “Altmetrics and Analytics for Digital Special Collections and Institutional Repositories.” Figshare (2015). 

  • “The Metrics Toolkit is a resource for researchers and evaluators that provides guidance for demonstrating and evaluating claims of research impact.  With the Toolkit you can quickly understand what a metric means, how it is calculated, and if it’s good match for your impact question.” Not specific to digital objects or collections, but may have some applicability.

    Metrics Toolkit. (2021).

  • PlumX: a tool to showcase academic profile and distinction
    “This paper outlines how altmetrics can be used to measure and share impact of faculty research at a liberal arts, teaching-focused college in ways reflective of the unique intellectual contributions.”

    Wong, E. Y., & Vital, S. M. (2017). PlumX: A tool to showcase academic profile and distinctionDigital Library Perspectives33(4), 305–313.

  • PlumX for Monograph Assessment
    Case study detailing the efficacy of PlumX for assessing the impact of a large monograph collection.

    Torres-Salinas, D., Gumpenberger, C., & Gorraiz, J. (2017). PlumX As a Potential Tool to Assess the Macroscopic Multidimensional Impact of BooksFrontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics2

Additional resources

Elsevier privacy principles. (2021). Elsevier. 

Jobmann, A., Hoffmann, C. P., Künne, S., Peters, I., Schmitz, J., & Wollnik-Korn, G. (2014). Altmetrics for large, multidisciplinary research groups: Comparison of current toolsBibliometrie – Praxis und Forschung3(1), 1-19. 

1 A widget can be created for any digital product with a DOI by appending the identifier to the following URL:
2 Elsevier privacy principles. (2021). Retrieved December 10, 2021, from
Skip to content