23 Research Data Things – Thing 8: Citation Metrics for Data

Alternative metrics or altmetrics count the number of views, number of downloads, social media “likes” and recommendations associated with a dataset. Because of their immediacy, altmetrics can be an early indicator of the impact or reach of a dataset; long before formal citation metrics can be assessed.”

Do you think altmetrics for data have value in academic settings?  Why?

Altmetrics measure popularity, which is not necessarily the same as “impact” for research. Sometimes a research article will gain a lot of attention outside academic circles. A mainstream newspaper or website may write about it if it’s something likely to capture the interest of the general public. But this is more likely to happen to articles that are controversial, so it doesn’t necessarily measure their impact or importance in the research literature.

However, it’s still a valuable thing to measure, especially for data. Altmetrics are a good match for data sharing in open access repositories and online because they measure web-based engagement. In the current research climate there are very important interactions taking place on social media, and these shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed as something flippant.


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