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Measuring Research Impact 4: Altmetric

Altmetric is a prevailing alternative metric that captures the “online mentioning” of research output from different sources (e.g. news, social media, patents, policy documents, multimedia platforms, blogs, etc.), thus providing “evidence” to demonstrate “Research Impact” beyond the academia. The “evidence” is both “quantitative” through the Altmetric Scores and “qualitative” through the links to the mentioning sources that enable researchers to identify “who”, “what”, “why” and “where” about the mentioning to trace the breadth and depth of their impact.

CityU Scholars offers article-level Altmetric (Guide).

CityU users can also access Altmetric Explorer for CityU, a library-subscribed tool that utilizes Altmetric data. Altmetric Explorer has been integrated with CityU Scholars, which provides verified authors, departments, and research output records. Altmetric Explorer enables users to explore and analyze data at various levels (Guide).

Read more: What is Altmetric and what does it provide?

A 3-min video on "What are altmetrics?"

How Does Altmetric Track Online Attention

To track the online attention surrounding a specific research piece, Altmetric requires three key elements:

  • An output
    • Books | Datasets | Journal articles | Presentations | Reports | More
  • An identifier attached to the output
    • arXiv ID | DOIs | identifiers | ISBNs | PubMedID | More
  • Mentions
    • Blogs | Media | Patents | Policy documents | Social media | More

Read more: How does it work? | Missed mentions & Reporting missed mentions

A 4-minute video on "How to ensure attention is tracked by Altmetric?"

After identifying a mention of the research, Altmetric gathers it with all other online attention and displays it via the Altmetric Details Page together with the Donut and Attention Score.

Altmetric Badge, Attention Score and Colors

The Altmetric Badge (Donut) provides an at-a-glance summary of the volume and type of attention a research output has received. The donut's different colors represent the sources from which the mentions of the research output originated.

The Altmetric Attention Score, positioned at the center of the badge, provides an indicator of the amount of attention that it has received. The score is a weighted count derived from an automated algorithm. Only the FIRST mention from a source counts towards the score.

Read more: Introduction to the badge | How are outputs scored?How is the Altmetric Attention Score calculated? | Attention sources tracked by Altmetric 


A 1-min video explains Altmetric Badge and Attention Score Each color in the Badge represents a different source of attention

Understanding Altmetric Scores, Mentions and Citations

By understanding Altmetric attention scores and mentions/citations across various platforms, researchers can assess the diverse influence and engagement of their research output.

  • Attention Score – The attention score is a quantitative indicator to show the volume of attention that a research output has received from various sources. However, the score does not indicate the quality of the output itself; it simply tracks attention, which can be positive or negative, where negative mentions can also contribute to a high score. The scores generally increase over time but may decline if posts or profiles are deleted.
  • Patents ^ – Citations in patents suggest that the research output has been referenced or cited in patent documents. This indicates potential applications or innovations resulting from the research and highlights its relevance to technological advancements and intellectual property.

^ For patent search and analysis, you can also use Patents, a free tool by, a platform dedicated to patent records and scholarly works.
   Patent SearchPatent Structured SearchPatent Search Analysis | Patent Cited By Patents Tabs | More Guides on Lens Knowledge Base - Patents

  • Policy Documents * – Citations in policy documents indicate that the research output has the potential to influence or inform policy discussions, decisions, or recommendations. Policy documents often draw upon scientific research to shape evidence-based policies and strategies.

* Different tools and platforms may have different coverage. To ensure a more comprehensive tracking of cited policy documents, please also use Overton which is a database dedicated to policy citations.

  • Mainstream Media – Mentions in news articles signify media attention and broad dissemination of the research findings.
  • Social Media – Engagement, discussions and mentions on platforms like X, Facebook and Reddit provide insights into the public perception and reactions surrounding the research output.
  • Blogs – Mentions in blogs contribute to public understanding and engagement with the research topic. Through blogs, researchers will be able to gain valuable feedback, understand different viewpoints, and explore potential collaborations or future research directions.
  • Other Online Sources – Mentions on Wikipedia pages, Q&A platforms, Faculty Opinions, and YouTube, etc. provide additional credibility, knowledge sharing, expert evaluations, and visual communication of the research output and findings.

Retrieving Altmetric Details from CityU Scholars

A sample record: The chemistry of two-dimensional layered transition metal dichalcogenide nanosheets 

CityU Scholars Link | Altmetric Link

In CityU Scholars, the Altmetric badge , if available, appears next to the research output record on the result list. Hovering over the badge reveals a summary box displaying the number of mentions or readers for each type of attention received by the research output. Clicking on the badge directs you to the record page on the Altmetric website.


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Clicking on the research output title within CityU Scholars opens up the record page. Similar to the Altmetric badge, hovering over the Altmetric button  triggers the display of a summary box. If you click through the button, you will be taken to the record page on the Altmetric website for more detailed information.


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On the Altmetric website, you can view sources that mention the research output by clicking on the different-colored buttons in the left panel. Alternatively, you can use the tabs for the same purpose.


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Below is an example to illustrate how it appears when you click on the "Patents" tab. By clicking through the patent titles, you can access each of the 41 patents that have cited this research output.


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Altmetric Explorer for CityU

Altmetric Explorer tracks mentions of research outputs across various platforms including social media, news media, blogs, Wikipedia, scholarly platforms, as well as citations in patents and policy documents. Its integration with CityU Scholars enables users to generate analytical reports on its dashboard for research outputs, authors, and departments at the CityU level and the entire Altmetric database.

Altmetric Explorer can be accessed via the Library's subscription to the research analysis & benchmarking tools (link) or via If you are connected to the CityU network, you will be directed to the dashboard automatically. Otherwise, you will need to register for a personal login using your CityU email address. We recommend creating an account so that you can save searches, set up email alerts, create sharable reports, etc.

There is a range of search and analytical features on the Altmetric Explorer dashboard.

  • Explorer Tabs: Browse and analyze data from different dimensions through tabs such as Highlights, Research Outputs, Timeline, etc.
  • Edit Search & Quick Search: Utilize various options to limit your search for authors, departments, subjects, etc.
  • Saved Searches: Available in the login mode for easy retrieval of search queries
  • My Institution: Browse verified CityU authors and departments
  • Help: Explore user guides for Altmetric and Altmetric Explorer
  • Sign in & Create an Account: Register for an account using CityU email to save searches and create sharable reports
  • Account Settings: Set the default search scope (full Altmetric database or CityU only) and manage the login password

Watch a 1-minute video by Altmetric that introduces how Altmetric Explorer works.

A 1-min video on Altmetric Explorer

Quick Search

Click on the "Quick Search" box in the top right corner to open a search box where you can enter a simple search query such as author name, department name, keyword, publication title, journal name, research output type, etc. to search the database. The search scope can be "Full Altmetric database" by default, or within CityU's research outputs if you choose "My institution only".

Advanced Search

Click on the blue "Edit Search" button to open an "Advanced search" menu and refine the search queries at different levels. Like the quick search, you can run the searches in the full Altmetric database or within CityU, where the default scope can be set in "Account Settings" in the upper-right corner. To execute your search, utilize the "Run Search" button, and if needed, clear any applied filters by using the "Clear Filter" button at the bottom right corner of the page.

My institution

  • Verified Author: Search for CityU authors from CityU Scholars.
    • You can also browse CityU authors by navigating to the My Institution page in the left-hand sidebar. Search and select an author name from the list, and click to view all the associated research outputs and Altmetric data (click to enlarge the image).

  • Verified Department: Search for CityU departments from CityU Scholars.
    • Like the verified authors, you can also browse CityU departments by navigating to the My Institution page. Click on Departments, search and select a department or group to view all the associated research outputs and Altmetric data (click to enlarge the image).

 Publishers, journals, and collections

  • Publisher Name: Enter a publisher name to search for journals, books or other outputs by the publisher.
  • DOI Prefix: Enter a full DOI prefix (e.g. 10.1371) to search for all outputs from a particular publisher or journal.
  • Journal or Collection: Enter journal names, ISSNs or collections (e.g. arXiv) to search for publications from the given sources.
  • Funder Name: Enter a funder's name (e.g. University Grants Committee) or GRID ID (e.g. grid.452948.6) to search for all outputs associated with the funder.
  • Handle Prefix: Enter a Handle prefix (e.g. 10986) to search for all outputs from a given institution's repository.

 Research outputs

  • Keywords: Enter a keyword to search for matched publication titles, author names, editor names and journal titles. Boolean operators are not supported.
  • Subjects (FoR Classification): The Fields of Research (FoR) classification is a component of the 2020 Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) system. Enter the name (e.g. Commercial Law) or code (e.g. 4801) of a FoR subject area to search for related outputs.
  • Affiliation (GRID): Enter an affiliation's name (e.g. Harvard University) or GRID ID (e.g. grid.38142.3c) to search for outputs authored by individuals affiliated with the institution.
  • Title of Output: Enter the full or partial publication title to return matched publications.
  • Sustainable Development Goals: Enter the SDG name (e.g. Quality Education) or its assigned number (e.g. 4) to retrieve related publications.
  • Type of Output: Select one or more output types, such as Articles and Books, to narrow down the results. The default setting is "All outputs".
  • Type of Open Access: Select one or more open access types, such as Gold and Green, to narrow down the results. The default setting is "All outputs".
  • Scholarly Identifiers: Click "Add Scholarly Identifiers" to enter a list of up to 25,000 scholarly identifiers, including DOIs, ISBNs, PubMed IDs, arXiv IDs and other identifiers. Alternatively, if you only have a single scholarly identifier, you can use the quick search option for a faster search of a specific research output.
  • ORCID: Enter one ORCID iD at a time to search for publications from an author.
  • PubMed Query: Enter a PubMed Query (e.g. (Kahneman D[Author]) AND Happiness[MeSH Terms]) to return a maximum of 10,000 matching research outputs with Altmetric attention.


  • Publication Date: Enter the start and end date to search for outputs published within a specific timeframe.
  • Altmetric Mentions During: Select a timeframe to retrieve publications that have received mentions within the past day(s), week(s), month(s) or year.

More guides

 Quick Search  My Institution: Authors  Verified Research Outputs
 Advanced Search  My Institution: Departments  Institutional and Full Altmetric Database Filters

The Highlights Tab gives an overview of attention received by outputs within the full Altmetric database by default, within CityU or based on your crafted searches. Highlights include the attention breakdown by sources, top outputs and mention sources, latest news highlights and mentions, attention by regions, etc. Each data block is linked to another analysis tab allowing for seamless navigation and deeper investigation.

Watch a 1-minute video by Altmetric that introduces key features of the Highlights Tab.

A 1-min video on Altmetric Explorer Highlights Tab

The Research Outputs Tab displays a list of research outputs based on a search query.

 The search query can be refined by clicking on the "Edit Search" button.

 The research outputs are displayed in a grid view by default. Toggle the buttons to switch to the list view to see more details of an output, including its affiliations, subject areas and SDGs.

 Sort the results by Attention Score, sources and number of mentions.

 Click on the badge to open up the details page for each record.

 Click on "Export this Tab" to export data to a CSV file for additional analysis. This button is also available under other tabs.

 Click on "Save Search" to save the search for easy and future use. This button is also available under other tabs.

The Timeline Tab shows all mentions over time and filter by specific attention source types, e.g. news, blogs, policies and patents. 

 You can select one or multiple attention sources to view related mentions in the bar chart. To select multiple sources, hold down the Command key on Mac computers, or the Control key on Windows computers.

 Click the desired timeframe to view mentions by time.

 Alternatively, you can drag the timeline below the chart to set the period.

 To view specific mentions within a chosen timeframe and attention sources, click on a bar in the chart. This will direct you to the Mentions Tab, where you can explore the mentions within that timeframe and further refine your results using additional parameters.

The Demographics Tab shows heatmaps of geolocations for the attention sources including X, Facebook, News and Policy.

 To view counts for the number of mentions and mention outlets/authors by country, select the attention source (e.g. Policy) and hover your mouse over the country (e.g. Canada) on the map. 

 By clicking on the name of a country in the table (click the blue "Show More" bar for more countries), or directly on the country on the map, you will be redirected to the Mentions Tab. There, you can explore all mentions originating from that country within the selected attention source.

The Mentions Tab shows individual mentions across all attention sources, which can be further refined by source types, mention outlets/authors, time period or regions.

 Click "Add source" to select the attention source type (e.g. policy documents) to refine the results. Alternatively, you can key in a specific mention outlet or author (e.g. Food and Drug Administration) in the search bar, and select from the autocomplete dropdown list of suggestions. Then you can select the appropriate source that you wish to search for in the mentions results. 

 You can set the start and end date to restrict the mention results by specific mention dates.

 You can also key in countries or regions to restrict mention results by locations.

 Click on "Show Highlights Only" to view internationally-recognized mainstream news attention.

More guides

 Mentions Tab: Search by Attention Source in the Explorer

The Mention Sources Tab provides a convenient way to identify the sources and individuals (e.g. specific tweeters, news outlets, policy sources) that have mentioned your research the most.

 Under "Add source", you can select and view mention counts by attention source type that includes News, Blog, Policy, X, Weibo (historic), Facebook, Google+ (historic), and Reddit.

 Like the Mentions Tab, you can refine your search by specifying a time period and country/region.

 The results can be sorted by "Total mention count" or "X follower count". By examining the results, you can explore the organizations that mention you the most, identify the most influential tweeters in a specific field, and more.

The Journals Tab presents the total number of mentions from various Altmetric attention sources based on the search query, aggregated by journal.

 You can narrow down the list by searching names and collections (e.g. Physics Letters, arXiv or figshare) under "Search Journals and Collections".

 You can sort the entire table by clicking on each column header which allows you to sort the journals by total number of mentions and mentions by each source type.

 A click through the journal title (e.g. Combustion & Flame) brings you to the Research Outputs Tab that lists all outputs published in the given journal and their Altmetric details for further analysis.

Once logged in to Altmetric Explorer, the blue "Save Search" button on the right side is available under all tabs. A click through it will add your query to the "Saved Searches" dashboard.

 The "Saved Searches" is available in the left-side panel under login mode.

 Check the box to set one search as your default view when you login.

 Click on any saved search to return to the results under the Highlights Tab.

 Select to receive daily, weekly, and/or monthly email reports of the search.

 Click the blue document to generate a sharable report.

 Edit the search name via the green pencil, send an example email report to your login account via the blue arrow, or delete the saved search via the red X button.

Create a sharable report by clicking on the blue document icon on a saved search.

Click "Edit Report" to enter the edit mode and personalize the report.

 Click the blue buttons to add more report modules.

 Edit or delete any auto-populated modules.

 Check "Make public?" to generate a publicly-accessible version of the report that can be shared with users without access to Altmetric Explorer.

 Click "Save Changes" or "Cancel" to save or disregard the changes.

Watch a 16-minute video by Altmetric that guides you through the Altmetric Explorer platform. Learn how to perform searches and analyze mentions using different tabs.

A 16-min walk-through video about Altmetric Explorer

Source from: Engineering, Altmetric (2020). How to Search Altmetric Explorer: An Introductory Guide for Institutions. Altmetric. Presentation.

More guides

Altmetric Explorer Support Site: