2

Alternative metrics for a paper, include not just the citations in other academic journals, but also all Twitter mentions, citations in Wikipedia, citations across the Stack Exchange network, etc.

The company Altmetric is one of the companies that shows the altmetrics for papers, and it has been mentioned in the answer to this Academia.SE question: Finding all communication related to any research paper.

It used to be as simple as installing the Altmetric extension for your web browser, which creates a bookmarklet (a tiny icon at the top of the web browser) on which you can click to get all the altmetrics. I used this for many years and find out extremely useful. However what if I'm using a browser at, for example a library computer where a network administrator has blocked me from installing custom extensions? Is there a place where I can just copy and paste the URL for the paper's DOI and get the altmetric data, just like Google Scholar allows you to see which papers have cited your paper without installing any browser extension?

It seems that while Altmetric still offers this bookmarklet for free it's still just a bookmarklet that has to be installed, rather than just a place where you can copy and paste a URL of the paper. Furthermore they now seem to want the user's email address, which I'm sure many people will not be delighted to do, as they would certainly find themselves automatically subscribed to get emails which they may not desire.

How can altmetrics for a paper be found without installing anything and without giving away your email address?

3

Yes, you can use Altmetric's API to do that.

The URL is https://api.altmetric.com/v1/doi/ + DOI.

For example: https://api.altmetric.com/v1/doi/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102194. However, the API is designed to be machine-readable (and not primarily human-readable), so you will only see a (possibly confusing) JSON-document which you may want to "beautify" using a JSON-Beautifier.

At the bottom of that JSON-document you see the element "details-url" which links to the actual page you probably want to see, i.e. http://www.altmetric.com/details.php?citation_id=93559766.

(For large-scale use of that API, you may need to request a key. See the Altmetric's API Documentation.)

1

tl;dr the main premise of my answer is wrong (see @anpami's answer). I still think there's some useful information here, so I won't delete it unless it starts attracting more downvotes ...


It looks like what you want is impossible; that is, I don't think there's any way to do this through Altmetric, and I don't see similar metrics being offered for free by any other provider. Altmetric's free tools page lists a variety of different ways to access their database, but they all require registration of some sort.

  • you could pretend to be an academic librarian (probably not ethical) and use the "Altmetric explorer"
  • you could come up with a convincing-sounding research project and email Altmetric "with a detailed description of your project" to get access to their API. update: I was wrong, @anpami's answer points out that the API appears to be registration-free for limited/interactive use: this wasn't clear to me from the description on the "free tools" page

My guess would be that the advantage of the bookmarklet over a simple web look-up (other than the fact that it's already implemented, so they don't have to do any extra work to provide an additional interface) is that it might track cookies (I can't find any information on this in the support pages, and haven't tried to install it to see if it pops up an opt-in clause of this sort ...) which would allow them to gather information on usage. It also allows a natural way to request your e-mail/institutional information, get you to sign up for e-mail lists, etc. (The e-mail list checkboxes appear to be "opt-in" rather than "opt-out", FWIW ...)

Altmetric is supported by Digital Science, which is owned by the same parent company as Nature, so I wouldn't expect them to be giving away their information for free. Remember, "If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold."1

FWIW it looks like Wiley provides Altmetric info for "many" journals in its collection, but I doubt they provide a central lookup/API.

You could look for altmetrics other than the ones computed and aggregated by Altmetric:

For example, the data repositories Dryad and figshare track download statistics (figshare is supported by Digital Science, which is owned by the same parent company as Nature). Some repositories, such as the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, provide anonymous demographic breakdowns of usage.

This ResearchGate article makes some more suggestions including PLoS metrics (which are only available for PLoS articles, of course), Mendeley/Scopus (also non-free), ...


1 Google Scholar might be a counterexample, but Google can probably afford a few freebies — and academics who add information by filling out their Scholar profiles are adding more information that Google can use (personally I find this a fair trade).

10
  • +1. Thank you so much. The "free tools page" to which you linked, was already linked in my question, and while what you're saying about it being rare for information to be given for free, I'm quite sure that the process for getting Altmetric data on a paper was tremedously easier not too long ago. It seems that they've just tightened up and now required us to provide our email address, which I can maybe accept (reluctantly), but they won't let me just type the URL of the paper's DOI in a search box, rather than downloading and installing their browser extension? That seems a bit unreasonable. – user1271772 Nov 16 '20 at 0:31
  • It's exactly the way that 'free' services that aren't supported by some kind of grant funding, or by voluntary labour from the community, must operate: they can give away their product for free for some period of time, in order to promote it and get users used to its value. At some point they have to monetize in some way: registration, ads, subscription, premium content ... – Ben Bolker Nov 16 '20 at 0:39
  • It's their intellectual property - they put a lot of effort into scraping media (and may pay for access to some of it). They would say you're being "unreasonable" by not being willing to give them your e-mail address in return for the information. – Ben Bolker Nov 16 '20 at 0:41
  • I see that the free-tools link was in your question: my point is that it does offer a choice of other tools other than the bookmarklet, which was the only one you mentioned. – Ben Bolker Nov 16 '20 at 0:42
  • What you're saying is making sense, but I ask you to try to tone things down a bit. I don't think what I'm asking is "impossible" since there might be competitors to Altmetric that provide such a service with a freemium model, and I don't think that anyone would call what I'm asking for "unreasonable" since Altmetric gets a tonne of money anyway from selling information that isn't easily accessible for free, and from premium subscriptions from institutions, and because I can just put a fake email address anyway, so they gain very little by requiring it. – user1271772 Nov 16 '20 at 2:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.