The Altmetric Attention Score is influenced by two factors:

  1. The quantity of posts mentioning an output

  2. The quality of the post's source


The quantity is relatively straightforward: the more posts mentioning an output the higher its attention score. We measure quality in a few different ways. In general:

  • Higher profile posts are worth more than lower profile ones. An article in the Washington Post contributes more, in score terms, than a blog post. A blog post contributes more than a tweet.

  • Who authored each post is important. For posts on social media sites we typically fetch an author's list of followers, a list of their past posts and information about how often those posts were liked, retweeted or reshared. A tweet from a doctor followed by other doctors will contribute more than an automated tweet from a journal's press office.

A more detailed explanation of how the scoring algorithm works can be found here.


Important things to remember:

  • Altmetric measures attention, not quality. People pay attention to papers for all sorts of reasons, not all of them positive.

  • Altmetric only tracks public attention. Papers are discussed in private forums, offline in journal clubs and by email but we cannot track this.

  • Altmetric tracks direct attention, that is to say attention focused on a specific research paper or dataset. More specifically for a newspaper article or blog post etc. to be counted by Altmetric it must either contain a link to the publication (journal article, DOI, PMID, or institutional repository) or reach our text mining criteria. We have more information here about how we do English-language text mining for news stories and policy documents. 

  • Altmetric provides you with a single metric per output so that you can quickly compare relative levels of attention but it only makes sense to use this when comparing apples with apples (e.g. within a single discipline). The norms for attention are very different for different scientific disciplines, just as the norms for citations are.