PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Altmetrics as a guide for an effective multi-channel strategy

Catherine Williams  

Ensuring scientific research reaches the right audiences at the right time, and that it is communicated in the right way, is of increasing importance for academics and the organisations that support them in their work. Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, are a valuable tool for tracking and analysing this activity. But what are they, and how can they be applied? First conceived in 2010, altmetrics draw on a range of non-traditional online sources to help capture the bigger picture of the dissemination and reception of published research. By tracking mentions and shares of research outputs in the mainstream media, public policy documents, post-publication peer-review forums, online reference managers, social media, blogs, and other online platforms such as Wikipedia and YouTube, altmetrics present a collated record that be used as an indicator and evidence of the type and volume of broader attention a piece of research has achieved. Used by researchers and others involved in driving public engagement and awareness of science, altmetrics can help identify best practice, measure success against objectives, and provide a basis for formulating effective future strategy. By exploring beyond the counts of the mentions and shares from each source, a closer look at what is being said about the research, and by whom, can provide the opportunity for more effective, real time, reputation management, and help identify new channels through which to grow outreach. In this session we'll explore some case studies of researchers and science communication professionals who have begun to use altmetrics as a way of tracking and evaluating the success of their existing efforts. We'll also look at some examples to identify how they can be used to encourage increased researcher participation in outreach activity, and discuss how new strategies can be determined through their use.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.