Thursday, August 22, 2013

Altmetric rankings

Humble brag: our group had two papers published in Angewandte Chemie recently! Both of them are about making different kinds of brilliantly iridescent polymer films through the self-assembly of nanocrystalline cellulose [1].


 In the first paper, we showed that we can make hydrogel composites using hydrophilic polymers such as polyacrylamide, which can swell when placed in water and change their color as a result. This can be used to make a coloured pattern (shown in the above image on the right), where one part of the film swells faster than the rest and changes its color as a result.

In the second paper, we made thermoset resin composites, and showed that we could remove the nanocrystalline cellulose to generate mesoporous plastics. These samples also have very interesting tunable optical properties!

(Unfortunately, you'll need a journal subscription to read the full text of those articles- if you are interested in learning more about them, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do to help!)

These were the first articles that I've published in Angewandte (a fairly prestigious journal for chemists), so I was very interested to see their Altmetric rankings- Altmetric is a new system that tracks "article level metrics as a way to measure the social impact of scholarly literature"- in other words, the audience each article receives on Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

I tweeted about each article (here and here) and was gratified to see that the Altmetric score for each paper increase (Angewandte also has a twitter account that tweets a link to each article). Surprisingly, this action alone was enough to raise the resulting Altmetric scores into the ~75th percentile of all articles ever tracked by Altmetric!

Then, a blog called Nanowerk wrote a post about our research, linking to both articles. This additional step was enough to raise the Altmetric scores into the 92nd and 95th percentile for all articles ever tracked by Altmetric! The articles are currently ranked 346th and 400th out of all Angewandte articles ever tracked by Altmetric, simply by a single tweet and a blog post. This tells me two things:

a) I'm a sucker for gamification of publication metrics (to be honest, I'm curious to see how this post might change my Altmetric scores; I'll update if there's any change see below!) , and

b) It doesn't really look like the Altmetric system is catching on yet, at least for chemistry journals. I don't know if Altmetric is being taken seriously as an additional way to evaluate scholarly research. I'd be very curious to see how Altmetric scores work for other disciplines, or for anyone else who has published in an Altmetric-tracked journal.

The ACS recently released their own article-level metrics platform, although those stats aren't public (yet?)- they will tell you the number of times each of your articles have been downloaded. I'm curious to see if there's any correlation between number of downloads and citations!

Update: Altmetric located this post within a day, and the scores went up by ~4 (reaching into the 96th percentile)- less than the effect of the Nanowerk post, but more than my tweets. I guess it might be possible that Nanowerk is recognized as more influential than my blog post, given that they actually post more than twice a year.

1. Nanocrystalline cellulose (or NCC) is also referred to as cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) or a bunch of other closely-related terms depending on who you talk to. It's super confusing, so recently the ISO decreed that cellulose nanocrystals was the term to use, which was after our hydrogel paper was submitted (and after I had spent a bunch of time making samples for the pretty pictures!), but before the resin paper was submitted. So that's why the papers have different titles.


Egon Willighagen said...

Do you think you would have found the NanoWork blog post without altmetrics?

Joel Kelly said...

Hi Egon! Yes, the blogger emailed my supervisor ahead of time to interview us.

davin said...

You have changed so much between the last time I saw you, and the photo on reddit for this story! lol