Beyond citations ⁠— Demonstrate your research impact with alternative metrics 

Introduction to Altmetrics 

Alternative metrics (also known as altmetrics) indicate the attention of scientific outputs which are shared, mentioned, and discussed in online environments, which are derived from users’ actions on various social media platforms and other online sources (e.g., Wikipedia) [1]. is a platform to find altmetrics for research outputs by tracking a range of sources to capture and collate the online activity. With the platform, you can find: 

  • The active attention that your articles are receiving, and the comments and reactions on them 
  • Recent research your peers think is interesting 

Figure 1: Altmetric donut for A familial cluster of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus indicating person-to-person transmission: a study of a family cluster 

The Altmetric donut is a graphical representation of the attention towards a research output. The colours of the donut represent the different sources [2]: 

Figure 2: The colours of the Donut 

The Altmetric Attention Score is an automatically calculated, weighted algorithm, based on 3 main factors: 

1. Volume of the mentions (how many are there?) 

2. Sources of the mentions (are they high-profile news stories, re-tweets, or Wikipedia references?)

3. Authors of the mentions (is it by the journal publisher, or an influential scholar?)  

By clicking on the donut, you will be directed to the Altmetric details page, which contains all collated attention. 

Figure 3: Altmetric details page for A familial cluster of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus indicating person-to-person transmission: a study of a family cluster (Screen capture as of 15 May 2023) 

In the page, you will see: 

  1. Altmetric donut and Altmetric Attention Score 
  1. Breakdown of the attentions 
  1. Tabs for relevant mentions from newspapers, policy documents, patents, social media sites, blogs, and other sources. 

Demonstrate impact of your research in a narrative format

Altmetrics can help you present the impact of your research in a narrative format. You can: 

  1. Visit (register for your own account with your HKU email address) and search for details of your research output with article title or DOI (Digital Object Identifier). 
  1. Consider what kind of impact to describe: 

Global impact 

– consider highlighting the number of countries your work has been shared in 

Social impact 

– consider highlighting policy documents referencing the research output

Innovative impact 

– consider highlighting patents 

Public impact 

– consider news, social media, Wikipedia, etc.

3. Describe the impact with context in plain language (avoiding jargons). E.g., include details like which news outlets are sharing your work or what the headlines are.

A narrative impact statement may look like:  

“This work led to sweeping reversals on policy regarding introducing allergens to children. This work has also influenced public discourse on the topic, and the results have been shared widely on Twitter, clinicians’ Facebook pages, and mass media outlets including The New York Times and Washington Post, suggesting public awareness of this topic and translation to practice.”  


My work has influenced 88 policy documents in 8 countries, including government organizations in:  

United Kingdom 

United States 


Australia” [3] 

Display Altmetric badge in your website 

You can display the Altmetric badge in your lab or personal website, CV, or blog. The badges are free to use for individual researchers. 

The embed code can be found at the top of the Altmetric details page. By simply copying the code to your website, you can display altmetrics for your research outputs in real time. 

Figure 4: Embed badge button 

Figure 5: Altmetric badges displayed on a webpage (Screen capture as of 15 May 2023) 

Discover your most influential research output 

If you hope to understand the altmetrics for multiple research outputs written by you, you can try to: 

  1. Use Advanced search 
  1. Search with your ORCID (‘ORCID’ section)  
    with a list of DOIs (Digital Object Identifier) of your works (‘Scholarly Identifiers’ section) 
  1. Run search to see summary of the outputs and understand which outputs are most influential 

Figure 6: Search by ORCID 

Figure 7: Example list of top outputs written by an author 

Altmetrics can help researchers understand the impact of their works in addition to traditional research metrics. Currently the HKU Libraries subscribes to Eligible users can access by registering their own accounts with HKU email address ( OR 

Extended reading 

For more details on the sources and the algorithm, please check the blog post: 


[1] K. Nuredini, Altmetrics for Digital Libraries: Concepts, Applications, Evaluation, and Recommendations. Berlin: Logos Verlag Berlin, 2021. 

[2] F. Davies, “Numbers behind Numbers: The Altmetric Attention Score and Sources Explained,” in Altmetric Blog vol. 2023, ed, 2015. 

[3] P. Smith, “How to: Write impact statements with Altmetric data,” in Altmetric Blog vol. 2023, ed, 2022.