Altmetrics – support for science communication

For a long time, an important measure of quality and success within academic research has been how much a scientific article is quoted in other scientific works. In recent years, however, new target groups and other ways of reaching out to old target groups have become increasingly important. Altmetrics were developed as a supplement to classic bibliometrics in order to measure the impact of research beyond the strictly scientific sphere.

Within altmetrics it is not only citations in scientific articles that count; in principle all digital traces that an article leaves behind may be relevant. This could be the number of full-text views of scientific articles on the web, downloads to reference management systems, references in policy documents, as well as attention in social media, news articles in public media etc.

Altmetrics is still young and has its limitations, but it can serve as a source of inspiration for researchers to interact with the surrounding community and test new ways of spreading their research to the outside world. Altmetrics can therefore be seen as part of the concept of open science.

A little further down on this page we have collected tips on how you can disseminate information about your research – and thus increase your altmetric impact.

Introductory film on altmetrics

Background and application

Altmetrics appeared about 10 years ago as a way of conducting alternative analyses and monitoring how new research findings are disseminated and discussed on the web. There are currently two main suppliers of altmetric data: Altmetric (Holtzbrinck Publishing Group) and Plum Analytics (Elsevier). Most of the major scientific publishers offer participating writers and readers information about the impact of altmetrics for journals as well as individual scientific articles.

Credit: iStock.

One advantage of altmetric analysis compared to standard bibliometrics is that it provides a faster picture of the impact of a specific study or journal. Altmetric and Plum Analytics also present their analyses using various educational colour coding and symbols.

Certain research funders have started asking for communication plans in their calls for proposals and expect feedback on how research results have been shared with journalists and the general public. Altmetrics can be a simple and tangible way to view the results of the dissemination of knowledge and interaction with the surrounding community.

One possible development is that altmetric analysis may affect international university rankings in future. Also, some people believe that altmetric analysis can help researchers to find partners in their own or adjacent areas of research.

Tools for checking your own and others’ altmetric impact

PlumX Metrics – educational symbols

Altmetrics doughnut – explanation of the different colours

Make your work searchable and shareable

Instead of citations in peer-reviewed journals, altmetrics uses other digital traces that scientific publications leave behind. Today, more and more interactions concerning scientific results take place online – and the options for monitoring and measuring these are almost infinite.

Woman with binoculars.
Credit: CC0.

Step one of reaching out in such a way as to make an altmetric impact is to ensure that the different search engines used in altmetrics pick up digital citations of your scientific work. You can do this by linking to a page where the work’s unique ID, such as DOI, PMID or ISBN, is specified. For this to work, the link must be directly in the body of the text, for example in a blog post or tweet. Of course, it does no harm to write the ID in a reference on a web page, as long as it does not take the focus away from what you want to say or discuss.

Consider the possibility of allowing open access to your scientific articles. If people have the opportunity to read the whole articles, the chances are greater that they will comment on and share them with others on the web.

More about open access on the KI Library website

Share research on social media

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – there are many platforms for social media where researchers can share links to their latest scientific work with both colleagues and contacts outside of research. Write a short and interesting introduction in just a few sentences. Preferably do this in such a way that it is accessible to lay persons as well as colleagues in your field of research. On social media it is often a good idea to use a nice picture to draw attention to the content.

Also remember that most social media platforms favour personal accounts, dialogue and real social relationships over organisational accounts and push-information. To improve your reach and impact it could be a good idea to collaborate with your colleagues and share information about each other’s studies, for example. Feel free to inform about your affiliation to Karolinska Institutet and tag us in your posts. Another way to build relationships with followers is to become active in groups on various topics in social media.

Karolinska Institutet has specific guidelines for how to use social media for your work.

More about social media at KI

Specialised platforms for researchers

There are also a large number of online platforms which are more focused on sharing scientific articles, conference abstracts, presentations, research posts etc. It is not certain that every publication will set an immediate altmetric trace. Altmetric search engines monitor tens of thousands of sources but still have their limits.

However, the more people who come into contact with your research in one way or another, the greater the chance that more people will read, discuss and share your articles. Specialised platforms can also be a good way to monitor trends and come into contact with exciting ideas and new partners. Choose one or two that you like and can learn properly. Make sure to update your personal information on a regular basis.

Some common specialised platforms:

Mendeley – tool for scientific writing and networking with other researchers.

Figshare – repository for the storage and dissemination of research data and results. – social network service for sharing and discussing research.

ResearchGate – international meeting place for sharing and discussing research.

Slideshare – service within the framework of LinkedIn that stores and shares presentations/lectures.

Reach out through blogs

If you want to go a step further than Twitter or ResearchGate and tell us more about your research, a blog can be a good idea. The same guidelines apply as for other social platforms if you want to blog as part of your research communication at KI. Also note that it may take a lot of work to bring readers to your blog and retain their interest.

There are many sites on the internet about how to start blogging, here are a few:

Lifehack – The newbie guide to blogging

Nature – Why science blogging still matters

Bloggskolan from Stockholms skrivbyrå (in Swedish)

An alternative to blogging yourself can be to make contact with other research bloggers in your area who are already established – start a dialogue and tell them about your own work. Google “science blogs” and start browsing.

List of Swedish science bloggers


Wikipedia globe.
Credit: Wikipedia.

Is your own research topic described on Wikipedia? It is possible to update or create entirely new articles. Do not forget to enter a scientific reference, preferably one of your own articles and a link. Wikipedia also has a number of sister projects for different aspects of open knowledge.

More about contributing to Wikipedia

About altmetrics on Wikipedia

Video and other moving material

Some journals offer researchers to publish a supplement to their scientific article in the form of a video abstract. Embrace the opportunity! It is possible to accomplish a great deal with a standard camera phone and free film-editing software. Take a look at what other video abstracts look like – what is good and what could be done better? Do not forget to link back to a website with the publication's ID number if you share the video through social media, for example. 

Find out more about video communication at KI

The Conversation

The Conversation is a politically unaffiliated international online platform for journalistic popular science articles. The platform is based on the principle that academic researchers write their own new articles, analyses and op-eds within their own fields of expertise – with the help of The Conversation’s own professional journalists and editors. As a member organisation in The Conversation, Karolinska Institutet offers extra support for our researchers to publish in this forum.

More about writing for The Conversation

Profile page on

Karolinska Institutet offers all employees a personal profile page on This allows you to log in with your KI ID and publish a summary about your research. On the profile page, it is also possible to link to scientific articles in PubMed, for example.

More about the KI profile page

KI News and press releases

The Communications and Public Relations Office is dedicated to sharing information about KI’s research, for example by publishing news articles on KI News and sending press releases to journalists.

An alternative to sending out press releases via the Communications Office is to make personal contact with one or a couple of journalists who you think is doing a good job and may be interested in what you have to say. Guidelines and tips for media relations at KI can be found on the staff portal. Ask our press officers if you are unsure.

General information on media relations at KI

Press releases and news on scientific publications