Other indicators of use, value or popularity

This section outlines a number of alternative methods and tools for establishing a publications use influence, value or popularity. A number of tools provide metrics made possible by online social networks. Non-traditional metrics based around social media are known as Altmetrics and propose an additional or alternative way to describe the use or activity around a piece of information. Consider various measures to determine use, influence or value including library holdings, downloads, and popularity in social media.

Library holdings of a book

The number of Libraries that hold a book is a general indicator of value proving there is a wide audience for the publication.

Use WorldCat to find the number of international libraries that hold a book:

  1. In the 'Advanced Search', perform an Author and Title search. In the results, click on the title of the book to open the entry.
  2. Scroll down, and under 'Find a copy in the library' Enter your location as 'Australia' and click: 'Find Libraries'.
  3. The total count of the libraries displayed will now be found directly underneath the location entry box.
    E.g. 1-6 out of 44 means that 44 Libraries in Australia hold the book. Found in the first row of the table of results.

Use Trove to find the number of Australian libraries that hold a book:

  1. Select the 'Books' tab, enter the book title and the first author family name, and click 'Search'.
  2. Identify the book in the results, and find the number of libraries at the bottom right of the entry, in the format: 'At ## Libraries'.


Altmetrics are generally article-level metrics based on metrics from the social web for analysing and informing scholarship. Altmetrics measure the number of times a research output gets cited, tweeted about, liked, shared, bookmarked, viewed, downloaded, mentioned, favourited, reviewed, or discussed. It harvests these numbers from a wide variety of open source web services that count such instances, including open access journal platforms, scholarly citation databases, web-based research sharing services, and social media. For example:

  • viewed: HTML views or PDF downloads of articles and papers, such as in PLOS one
  • cited: used in mashups, forked on GitHub, cited in CrossRef or by Wikipedia
  • saved: by scholars in Mendeley, or Zotero; bookmarked in Diigo
  • discussed: Twitter, NatureBlogs
  • recommenced: liked in Facebook, reviewed positively in a journal or by an expert
  • online attention: aggregation of mentions and number of sources.

New to QUT in 2017 - Altmetric Explorer. QUT researchers can now see who is talking about their research, and where. Altmetric Explorer aggregates mentions of their works in a number of sources, including news outlets, blogs, policy documents, social media and Wikipedia, to calculate an 'Attention Score'. This is represented by a multi-coloured 'doughnut', where each colour corresponds to a type of source; the more colourful the doughnut the wider the reach.

Downloads, page views

Article PDF Download or article view data can indicate interest or popularity. Tools that provide download information might be databases, repositories or a journal's website and include QUT ePrints and PLOS Journals.

Activity – Use QUT ePrints to find downloads, article and researcher statistics

To find the number of article or paper downloads:

  1. Type the journal article title in quotation marks and click 'Search'.
  2. In the results, find the number of downloads next to the green arrow under the reference.

To find other article levels statistics, including altmetrics:

  1. Type the journal article title in quotation marks and click 'Search'.
  2. In the results, click on the article title to open the article description.
  3. Under the abstract, from bottom left of the 'Impact and interest' bar, click 'More statistics'.

For a download statistics overview of specific researchers:

  1. From the menu on the left, click on 'Person', browse alphabetically, and click the entry.
  2. At the top right of the resulting publications list, click: 'Statistics dashboard'.

The statistics dashboard gives a graphical overview, key figures, and most popular works. From the bottom of the page there are full reports.

Example: Here is a screen capture image from February 15, 2015 of downloads for QUT researcher Marcus Foth.

Graph showing steadily rising monthly download stats

Further information is available for downloads by country or downloads from Downloads from QUT vs from elsewhere.

Activity – Use PLOS Journals to find article PDF downloads and more.

  1. Enter the journal article title in quotation marks in Google Scholar or the search box in the specific PLOS Journal's site.
  2. In the results, click on the article title.
  3. In the article record, above the article title, click: 'Metrics'.

Example: This is a screen capture image from February 26, 2015, of key statistics for this article in PLOS one.

Shows total article views and related PDF and XML downloads.

Benefits of altmetrics

  • Immediate response to output – did you know that a research output is mentioned online every 1.8 seconds?
  • Gather evidence of interest and engagement with the public, broader society.
  • Interest outside of formal publishing.
  • Altmetric aggregators provide contextual information about online attention.
  • Altmetrics can improve the visibility of your work and your research profile.

Limitations of altmetrics

  • Acceptance amongst members of the academic community is split and its use can be controversial.
  • Measures attention not quality.
  • Misuse of metrics has been raised as a concern by some.
  • The value of metrics generated varies and is dependent on the user groups, measures, and fields of research.