Citations, altmetrics, and the impact factor

Metrics, metrics, everywhere. Not a day goes by in academia without some new metric being designed to measure research assessment, or a complaint about how crap another metric is. There are soooo many studies out there that look at things like how open access influences citation rates or altmetrics, or what the relationship between altmetrics and citations is.

But most of these are large-scale, so don’t really mean anything to the individual researcher. So I decided to have a look at the impact factors, citations, and Altmetric scores for each of my papers (not that many..) just to see what sort of relationships existed between them for any on a personal level.

Where’s the data from? Well, that part’s easy. The Internet.

  • Altmetric scores can be obtained from any paper using the Altmetric bookmarklet, providing it has a DOI.
  • Citations can be pulled from Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, or Google Scholar. I used the latter.
  • The impact factor for journals? Google it.

I published the results here as I saw no reason not to make this open in the hopes that others (you) would also have a look at your own data. It doesn’t take long, and is quite a nice exercise for procrastinating with. I included articles from The Winnower, as these have quite nice Altmetric scores in my experience.

Some ‘results’

Massive caveat: n is so small here, this data is pretty much meaningless. I could divide it up by year, but the data are just too few. Here are some pretty plots instead.

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So yeah, pretty basic. As you can see, just with these super simple plots and few data, there is pretty much no relationship between impact factors, citations, or Altmetric scores for my publications. Most of my publications are super recent though (I’ve only just submitted my thesis!), and so the time to accumulate citations is extremely low for many publications.

I’ll add to this dataset through time and see how the relationships evolve. In the mean time, if anyone else wants to do this for their papers and see what they come up with that would be a great little experiment!

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