Altmetrics for Journal Publishers: Practical tips for demonstrating impact and engaging with Open Research

22 August 2019

by Elizabeth Brophy, Senior Journals Publishing Manager, Wiley

Last year I wrote a post for Altmetric entitled ‘Using Altmetric for reporting and strategizing for journal publishers'. Here I want to move on from this and talk about how altmetrics can help engage with two growing areas of importance for my journals; demonstrating impact and engaging with Open Research.

Demonstrating Impact

Being able to demonstrate article impact is a key aim for authors; online promotion and impact outside of the academy has become an important research measure. For a journal, being able to support, develop, and show research impact is a key goal. My previous post talks about how altmetrics can be used to identify popular articles or target groups and develop strategic actions around this. But undertaking campaigns is pointless unless we track them and learn from the data.

Being able to compare attention levels before and after marketing or promotional activity has taken place is really important here. The timeline that can be found in the Altmetric Explorer (just one Altmetric tool, which Wiley subscribes to) works perfectly for this. Using the timeline, an example of which is shown below, we can link peaks in activity to planned promotion.

Of course, it can also show us if that activity failed to lead to mentions online as well. It can also provide contextual information in relation to comparable journals and help to set KPIs to create real achievable targets.

In the example above a key journal issue was published and promoted via social media in September. The subsequent large peak in September demonstrates the impact that such activities can have in raising the visibility of an article; the graph shows that this received a high level of attention and provides a goal for future campaigns.

Journals increasingly need to be able to show that an article is also having an impact – not least to attract new authors, editorial board members, and of course, readers. Altmetrics on article pages are a good first step, as are regular reports for editorial, but these do not always highlight insights across journals or help stakeholders identify what has really changed.

A simple way to achieve this is something that Wiley has now adopted for a lot of its titles: to create a Trending Articles section on the journal homepage. By creating a weekly report or summary of these data, and embedding the link to this information in the journal homepage, we’ve found a great way of promoting the most talked about articles, and delivered an easy way for publishers and editors to check in on what has been getting attention.

An example of this can be found down on the right of JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, as shown in the image below. This link can also be posted on any website, such as the journal blog (, providing another audience to the articles and another avenue of promotion.

Demonstrating impact figure 2.png
Demonstrating impact figure 3.png

Engaging with Open Research

2019 has been the year of Open Access (OA), and to an increasing extent the entire Open Research agenda (Open Data, Transparent Peer Review etc). The need to engage fully with Open Research has become pivotal to journal sustainability.

A key element of this is digging further into altmetrics to check on the performance of OA content and how that content compares to subscription articles.

Making altmetrics data interoperable with other scholarly initiatives is also vital for supporting open research workflows, and being able to query altmetrics data (from any source) by an author’s ORCID plays an important part in driving the adoption of better research practices.

It’s not just articles that are becoming increasingly open: publishers and providers of altmetrics should be giving consideration to the underlying datasets, too. As authors make these more widely available it will be useful and interesting to further of understanding of how these outputs are also shared, discussed and used by both scholarly audiences and the more general public.

To take this a step further, linking those datasets and their associated altmetrics data to that of the publication they belong to will provide even more insights into the connections and publishing approaches that drive engagement, influence, and innovation.

Thanks to JCMS; Journal of Common Market Studies and UACES for agreeing to have their journal content featured in this post.