It’s basically about assessing the quality of journal articles, or, in more general terms, academic research.

When the world was young(er) it was pretty straightforward to know when a high-quality journal article appeared. There were probably only a couple of journals you needed to monitor in your subject area, and when a hot paper came out the buzz would alert you. Now there’s so much stuff being published, partly because of the growth of the academic industry, and partly because of the splitting of disciplines into more and more separate disciplines and sub-disciplines. As a consequence finding out what among the crowd is worth looking at has become hard. The assessing of the quality of academic research has become a topic of academic research itself!

Knowing what’s good and what’s not is also important for hiring decisions as well as for researchers. Just counting citations — the number of times your article has been referenced — is a fairly crude weapon.

“Altmetrics are non-traditional, article-level metrics that can include journal comments, blog mentions, Wikipedia mentions, Tweets, Facebook posts, Mendeley and CiteULike social bookmarkings, and many other items. Aside from articles, altmetrics can also measure videos, individuals, books, journals, and a host of other content types.” Thus John Bond in his Publishing Executive article.

If you don’t see video here, please click on the title of this post in order to view it in your browser.

Altmetrics is a website too, and brings us news of the top 100 articles of 2019. The most fascinating (to me anyway) is Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma when jumping from aircraft: randomized controlled trial from the British Medical Journal. The paper was published on 13 December 2018, though one is inclined to believe that the authors were hoping for a delay of about three and a half months until early April. Here’s a photo of one of their research subjects taking the leap — this one without parachute.

Presumably the point this paper is making is about research methodology and design rather than parachute use! The authors have surely got their point across, as it was the eighth most discussed article of the year.