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Altmetric Explorer – Tracking Your Altmetrics

Altmetrics are new measures of impact by capturing online mentioning of research outputs such as papers and datasets. Altmetric Explorer, Plum Analytics and Impactstory are some popular altmetrics tools, and the Library has recently started a subscription to Altmetric Explorer. In this post, you will learn more about Altmetric Explorer.

What is Altmetric Explorer?

Altmetric Explorer is an online tool that searches the web for “online attention” of research outputs. Unlike citation tracking databases (e.g. Web of Science and Scopus) which provide research metrics on scholarly publications, Altmetric Explorer captures the attention for all types of research outputs including theses and dissertations, dataset, software and code, media files, etc. Also, Altmetric Explorer pulls data from:

  • Public policy documents
  • Mainstream media
  • Online reference managers (Mendeley)
  • Post-publication peer-review platforms (Pubpeer and Publons)
  • Wikipedia
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, Google+, etc)
  • Multimedia platforms (YouTube, Reddit, etc)
  • Patents
  • Open Syllabus Project
  • Blogs & Research Highlights (Faculty Opinions)

Figure 1 – Altmetric attention breakdown for HKUST (All time)

By combining traditional research metrics and Altmetrics, researchers can build a more complete and timely picture of impact and engagement of their research outputs.


What are the Benefits of Altmetric Explorer?

As more and more research information is being accessed and disseminated online, using conventional metrics such as citation counts to measure research impact is not sufficient anymore. In fact, Altmetric Explorer can complement with traditional citation tools and offer several advantages to researchers.

  • Coverage – Most of the citation tracking databases like Web of Science and Scopus have focus on English language publications. In many cases, citation-based metrics cannot be obtained for non-English work but Altmetric Explorer can track the research impact of these kind of work.
  • Currency – Altmetrics provide real-time, immediate feedback on attention to scholarly content; compared with traditional citations that accumulate slowly.
  • Diversity – Altmetric Explorer captures data from various sources, not just the traditional academic publishing setting, and thus may reflect the broader impact of research beyond the scholarly community. For instance, altmetrics data can help researchers understand how their research is being interacted with public, government and policy makers.


How does Altmetric Explorer Capture Online Attention?

Altmetric monitors a range of online sources, searching for links and references to research outputs. To be able to track the online attention, Altmetric Explorer will look at:

  • An output (e.g. a research paper or dataset)
  • An identifier (e.g. DOI, ISBN, or handle number)
  • Mentions (e.g. Tweets, Facebook posts, etc)

Figure 2 – How Altmetric Explorer captures online attention (source:


What is Altmetric Attention Score?

The attention score is a unique feature in Altmetric Explorer which represents a weighted approximation of all the online attention. The score is derived from an algorithm and basically calculated according to three factors:

  • Volume of the mentions
  • Source of the mentions
  • Author of the mentions

Figure 3 – Altmetric donut (source:

It is important to remember that attention score does not tell anything about the quality of the research output; it is merely an indicator of online attention. To learn more about attention score, read this post. The Altmetric badge (as known as “donut”) visualizes which online sources are discussing the research output. For instance, if the donut is mostly light blue, it means the research output has attracted lot of Twitter or LinkedIn attention.


What can Researchers do with Altmetrics/Altmetric Explorer?

Altmetrics can be useful to researchers who are interested to build their online presence and demonstrate the social impact of their work. To make most of the data from the research outputs on Altmetric Explorer, researchers can:

  • Embed Altmetric badges on website (how? try “Altmetric badge generator“)
  • Use altmetrics to showcase the wider influence of their work. Do keep in mind that context is very important for making the Altmetric Attention Score meaningful. Looking at the “Attention Score in Context” section can tell how highly the research output has scored (percentile) compared to other outputs in the same source (e.g. journal) and published within the same time period. Read this post to learn about more how to use altmetrics to communicate the impact of your work.
  • Uncover conservation and identify impacts about their research from news media and policy documents.

Figure 4 – An example of Altmetric Details Page


Getting Started with Altmetric Explorer

To access Altmetric Explorer, go to Library Homepage ( > Databases > A > Altmetric Explorer. Sign up for an individual account with your HKUST email to enable functionality including saved searches and email alerts. also offers a range of free tools for researchers, so give them a try now!

– by Kevin Ho, Library

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published May 12, 2021