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Digital Research Report: Altmetric ‘mentions’ and the Identification of Research Impact

24th February 2015
By Katy Alexander

Today we publish our latest Digital Research Report, a series of publications about research data and analytical possibilities in a practical, applied context.

FuNESTA-logonded by Nesta, the report is authored by Jonathan Adams, Digital Science’s Chief Scientist and Tamar Loach, Digital Science’s Research Metrics Analyst.

The report looks at whether data emerging from media ‘mentions’ of research provide timely indicators of outcomes linked to social and technical innovation for stakeholders in networks beyond academia.

Altmetric has collated mentions pointing at 2.5 million scholarly documents. Articles from high impact journals have a high average mention count, but those with more mentions do not always have more citations. There are professional, academic and social motivations for mentions: the challenge is to discern patterns and concentrations that capture these factors. Do mentions have innovative value in communicating impact beyond the academic world?

What are the report findings? 

Impact in communities of practice. Rapid and accessible communication of innovative research outcomes relevant to practitioners and professionals in the health sector is also of value to research users and managers. We interviewed a range of experts but found no clear characteristics of research publications with economic, social or professional – rather than academic – impact. Analysis confirmed many motivations for research mentions and highlighted their communication potential, but found no consistent view as to why some articles get mentioned frequently.

Impact in communities of interest. Patients, carers and supporters of disease charities represent a network that wants to look at, understand and communicate research about new treatments. Statistical analysis showed more mentions were given to papers associated with diseases tackled by charities with larger research funds. Cardiovascular disease receives more attention than its charitable research spend suggests, however, whereas spend on Immune and Musculo-skeletal diseases is high but media mentions are relatively low.

Health/clinical networks can enable timely, rapid and ‘serious’ media communication of innovative research with non-academic social and professional stakeholder benefits, but they may need key people as active nodes to engage them.

If you want to find out more you can view the report via Figshare below:

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