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Bibliometrics & Research Impact: Article Level Metrics

Introduction to Article Level Metrics

Article-level metrics (ALMs) refer to a whole range of measures that can provide insights into the “impact” or “reach” of an individual article. 

Whereas the well-known Impact Factor measures citations at the journal level, ALMs aim to measure the research impact of an article in a transparent and comprehensive manner. They not only look at citations and usage but also include article coverage and discussions in the social web.

A growing number of journals and publishing platforms are making article-level metrics available. These metrics are valuable as they combine data held by the publishers on downloads etc with external metrics providers to give a more comprehensive picture of an article's impact.

Main article level metrics

  • Citation counts indicate that other researchers have referred to your publication in their publications. .
  • Altmetrics is a “broad term that encapsulates the collection of multiple digital indicators related to scholarly work”. They can include usage statistics, mentions on social media, captures by reference management software and are generally seen as a measure of the attention that a publication has received.
  • Outputs in top percentiles indicates the extent to which your publications are present in the most-cited thresholds of a data source (e.g. Scopus) per publication year. It is used for a group of journal articles and normalizes for the area you publish in.

Citation counts

Citation counts can be tracked in a number of different resources but the key multidisciplinary databases are Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science. The citation count for each article tracked in these databases will more than likely differ across all three because each include different publications in their databases. 


Alternative metrics or altmetrics “is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship.” Altmetrics include article downloads and views, bookmarks, saves, favourites, readers, blog posts, tweets, Wikipedia articles, news stories, likes, shares and ratings. Altmetrics provides impact of just-published work and includes all types of scholarly output.

Altmetrics is a relatively new and emerging field and may have potential in:

  • Providing real-time indicators of impact
  • Capturing ‘practitioner’ impact of those who may never publish
  • Showing evidence of industry and public engagement
  • Being an indicator for future citations. is a service that allows you to see how much attention any article with a DOI (digital object identifier) has received online by using a bookmarklet tool. They also have another subscription product called Altmetric Explorer for Institutions that the University of Limerick has access to.

Impactstory is an open-source website that helps researchers explore and share the the online impact of their research. You can create an Impactstory profile with your ORCID credentials in just a minute.

Plum Analytics is an altmetrics service that tracks more than 20 different types of artifacts, including journal articles, books, videos, presentations, conference proceedings, datasets, source code, cases, and more. Plum Analytics collect impact metrics in 5 major categories: usage, captures, mentions, social media, and citations.

Outputs in top citation percentiles

Outputs in top percentiles is a metric calculated by research analytics tools such as SciVal or InCites. UL has a subscription to both databases and these can be found on the library's list of A-Z databases