OK, so by this stage I’m blogging and tweeting, and looking up research papers pretty regularly, but how do I measure where my words go once I’ve released them into the wild of the internet?
Alternative metrics, or alt-metrics, can provide some insight here, and pick up on impact not noticed by traditional academic metrics.
This was quite a fun Thing to investigate, and the results were surprising. Looking at Twitter Analytics is something I haven’t done before, but was an interesting exercise. My top tweets are generally ones where I use an existing hashtag, like for a conference for example, as they get picked up and retweeted by other people using the same hashtag, which shows how hashtags can build your Twitter presence and also connect you to a wider community discussing the same topic.
Other than that, tweets with pictures did better than those without, which confirms what was said in an earlier Thing about pictorial superiority.
Tweetreach is a really cool way of getting snapshots of how many times a particular bit of content has been interacted with. You can go into much deeper analytics with an account, but helpfully you can get a quick “Snapshot” without needing to sign up at all.
You can search for hashtags, accounts or by keyword and Tweetreach will generate a nicely-presented bit of data for you. Here’s the snapshot for my own Twitter account @wrycrow, which has some utterly bonkers numbers on it! Not sure how I feel about that.
And finally, onto Altmetric itself. The “Altmetric it!” bookmark tool was so easy to get, just click and drag it onto your bookmark toolbar, no need even to download anything. Like some other participants, I had some issues with it not recognising some papers from smaller journals (hey, everyone, get a DOI for your paper or Altmetric won’t be able to see it!) but for the most part, it worked fine and gives some great info about how many times a paper was picked up by the news media, blogged about, tweeted, shared on Facebook etc.
Altmetric seems to be an excellent way of getting figures for impact that go beyond the standard REF model, and show that academic research has real impact in the wider world beyond specialist publications. Indeed, for several papers, the highest category of people interacting with them was “members of the public”.
All great tools, all really easy to use, and all of which demonstrate that we’re doing more than just shouting into the void when we use social media.