Altassess – The applicability of altmetrics for research assessment (2020-2024)

Project funded by the Academy of Finland, 2020-2024.

Research group

Senior Research Fellow Kim Holmberg (team leader)
Senior Researcher Ashraf Maleki
Senior Researcher Sanna Malinen
Research Assistant Jenni Virtanen


Assistant Professor Timothy D. Bowman
Dr. Fereshteh Didegah


Scholarly communication is currently undergoing a dramatic change, as scholars are increasingly using social media to discover, consume, disseminate, and discuss research information. In addition to scholars,
the public can also take part in the online discussions and share the research documents they discover to their online networks. These online events around scientific outputs (e.g., articles, datasets, code), whether
generated through the actions of researchers or the public, leave digital traces that can be tracked, harvested, and analyzed. These traces, and the research field analyzing them, are called altmetrics.

The research field of altmetrics analyzes these mentions of scientific outputs from various online sources, such as various social media sites, blogs, and news sites, with the purpose of gaining new insights into how this activity might be used to enhance research assessment, support open science, and demonstrate some form of societal impact. Understanding who consumes, disseminates, or discusses scientific documents online and for what reason has a profound influence on the applicability of altmetrics for research assessment. This project will analyze an extensive set of data aggregated from different online data sources and use a mixed methods approach with a combination of advanced statistics, social network analysis, and content analysis methods to examine the data.

The results of this project will help researchers, research administrators, funders, and science policy makers to better understand why and by whom their research (or the research they have funded) is being shared and discussed in different contexts and with that, give a more comprehensive and contextualized understanding of the applicability of altmetrics for research assessment. The results of this project can, besides advance altmetrics research, inform and reform the major contexts where research is being assessed by demonstrating how altmetrics can (or cannot) complement existing assessment methods and metrics. The results of this project can also have a positive impact on the society as scholars will have a greater understanding of the online visibility and the attention their work attracts, thus incentivizing them to communicate their research findings and openly share their work to wider audiences beyond academia.