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News : Five tips to help authors understand and improve their Altmetric score

11 May 2016
Altmetric is an ‘alternative metrics’ service that measures the attention that scholarly articles receive online. Altmetric tracks three main sources: social media like Twitter, Facebook and blogs; traditional media, such as newspapers or science magazine websites; and online reference managers like Mendeley. Once it has this information, Altmetric calculates a total score for an article based on the quantity and quality of attention it has received.

All Microbiology Society journals have been integrated with Altmetric, with each paper’s score shown in a coloured ‘donut’ that can be seen to the right of both abstracts and full-text pages. The donut uses different colours to help our authors and readers quickly visualise the ways in which a research paper is being discussed online, with blue representing Twitter mentions, red a traditional news source, or purple for a reference in a policy document, for example. Clicking on the donut allows users to find out more details about each mention. Read our top five tips for authors on how to get the most out of Altmetric and raise the profile of their research.

1. Promote your paper on social media If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, be sure to post a link to your article for others to see. By promoting the paper there is a greater chance that others who work in the area will also discuss it online, or perhaps share it with others in their network. With Altmetric, a tweet from a scientist will increase your paper’s score more than one from a publisher’s social media account.

2. Encourage others Encourage your contributing authors and funding body to promote your article on their social media accounts as well. Speak to your institution’s communications department to see if they can promote the article on news websites, blogs or social media. All of these will increase the number of people who may want to read your research.

3. Use it as an opportunity to expand your network Authors are increasingly looking for instant feedback on their papers, and a benefit of Altmetric is that it enables you to stay up-to-date with the latest activity surrounding your work (you can sign up for email alerts to be notified when it gets new mentions). You can check your article’s Altmetric score and see who is discussing your work, allowing you to expand your network by sharing or replying. You can respond to any questions or comments in a much more immediate way, or just thank people for taking the time to read your paper.

4. Drill down into the score Be sure to drill down into your Altmetric score and find out who is talking about your article, on what research outputs or social media platforms it is being shared, and where it is geographically most popular. The results may surprise you.

5. Make sure to mention the Society Be sure to mention the Microbiology Society (@MicrobioSoc) when you tweet about your article. This will alert us to your tweet so that we can retweet you and share your work with others in the microbiology community, which may boost the Altmetric score of the article.

Finally, it is important to remember that numbers aren’t everything. It’s hard to say what a good Altmetric score is as every article and audience is different. Although the Altmetric score is useful to help track your article’s profile, what is also important is the context in which a paper is being spoken about, so authors should consider who is talking about their work, where, and what they are saying.

To find out how the research published by the Microbiology Society is being discussed online, click on the Altmetric donut beside each article. Please note that the donut will only be visible if one or more of the activities tracked by Altmetric has taken place. To learn more about Altmetric, please visit their website.
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