CWTS Research Line in Altmetrics

Altmetrics is the study of the mentions (i.e. likes, shares, comments, tweets, blog posts, bookmarks, saves, recommendations, etc.) of scientific outputs in social web tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, blogs, news media, and reference management tools.


The term altmetrics coined by Jason Priem in 2010 as an alternative way of measuring impact in the social web aims at enhancing and complementing the more traditional ways of impact assessment by expanding the idea of impact. This development of the concept of altmetrics has been accompanied by a growth in the diversity of tools that aim to track ‘real-time’ impact of scientific outputs. These new web based tools intend to capture and track a wide range of researcher’s outputs by aggregating altmetrics data across a wide variety of sources are being currently developed (e.g. Impact StoryPLOS ALM, Plum Analytics,, F1000, Mendeley, etc.). The evidence of impact provided by these tools allows both real-time and a broader analysis of impact of research outputs and offers new opportunities for research assessment. The actual meaning of these types of real-time analysis also requires further investigation. This line has a transversal perspective and is part of the working group SURe, where the contribution of altmetrics in assessing societal use of research is assessed.

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Our Line of Research

The aim of the Altmetrics research line at CWTS is to investigate the different altmetrics tools in order to study the potential and feasibility of altmetrics as a new data source for research assessment purposes and to explore what types of impact (scientific, societal, cultural...) can be supported by them. Some topics of research are the following:

  • The study and analysis of the features and possibilities of the different altmetrics data sources and the metrics that they provide.
  • Developing and conceptualizing systematic ways of measuring online activity around scholarly outputs.
  • Developing and testing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in extracting altmetrics data.
  • Assessing the validity and reliability of altmetrics data sources, tools and indicators and their comparison with bibliometric methodologies.
  • Developing new impact assessment indicators based on altmetrics and study of their feasibility for research assessment purposes.


Rodrigo Costas

Researcher. Rodrigo's research focuses mostly on the development and application of new bibliometric tools and the new field of 'altmetrics'.

Ingeborg Meijer

Researcher and coordinator of the Society Using Research (SURe) working group. Ingeborg focuses on the development of proxies, tools, and indicators to assess the uses of research in society; in public, professional, and private domains.

Paul Wouters

Director of CWTS and professor of Scientometrics. Paul is interested in how evaluation systems have developed and are creating new constraints for the development of knowledge. He is also interested in the history of science in general and the role of information systems in these histories in particular.

Zohreh Zahedi

PhD candidate. Zohreh is doing research on altmetrics (alternative metrics and tools) and investigating potential of using altmetrics for measuring research performance.

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