From the Altmetrics manifesto created by UNC graudate student Jason Priem (see more in the Chronicle of Higher Education interview with Priem):

“In growing numbers, scholars are moving their everyday work to the web. Online reference managers Zotero and Mendeley each claim to store over 40 million articles (making them substantially larger than PubMed); as many as a third of scholars are on Twitter, and a growing number tend scholarly blogs.

These new forms reflect and transmit scholarly impact: that dog-eared (but uncited) article that used to live on a shelf now lives in Mendeley, CiteULike, or Zotero–where we can see and count it. That hallway conversation about a recent finding has moved to blogs and social networks–now, we can listen in. The local genomics dataset has moved to an online repository–now, we can track it. This diverse group of activities forms a composite trace of impact far richer than any available before. We call the elements of this trace altmetrics.

Altmetrics expand our view of what impact looks like, but also of what’s making the impact. This matters because expressions of scholarship are becoming more diverse. Articles are increasingly joined by:

  • The sharing of “raw science” like datasets, code, and experimental designs
  • Semantic publishing or “nanopublication,” where the citeable unit is an argument or passage rather than entire article.
  • Widespread self-publishing via blogging, microblogging, and comments or annotations on existing work.

Because altmetrics are themselves diverse, they’re great for measuring impact in this diverse scholarly ecosystem. In fact, altmetrics will be essential to sift these new forms, since they’re outside the scope of traditional filters. This diversity can also help in measuring the aggregate impact of the research enterprise itself.

Altmetrics are fast, using public APIs to gather data in days or weeks. They’re open–not just the data, but the scripts and algorithms that collect and interpret it. Altmetrics look beyond counting and emphasize semantic content like usernames, timestamps, and tags. Altmetrics aren’t citations, nor are they webometrics; although these latter approaches are related to altmetrics, they are relatively slow, unstructured, and closed.”

From the Almetric Manifesto by Jason Priem, UNC