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Advanced Information Research Skills

Other indicators of use, value, or popularity

This section outlines a number of alternative methods and tools for establishing a publications use influence, value or popularity. A number of tools provide metrics made possible by online social networks. Non-traditional metrics based around social media are known as Altmetrics (alternative metrics) and propose an additional or alternative way to describe the use or activity around a piece of information. Consider various measures to determine use, influence or value including library holdings, downloads, and popularity in social media.


The number of Libraries that hold a book is a general indicator of value proving there is a wide audience for the publication.


Use WorldCat to find the number of international libraries that hold a book:

  1.  In the ‘Advanced Search', perform an Author and Title search. In the results, click on the title of the book to open the entry.
  2. Scroll down, and under Find a copy in the Library'. Enter your location as 'Australia' and click: ‘Find Libraries’.
  3. The total count of the libraries displayed will now be found directly underneath the location entry box.


Use Trove to find the number of Australian libraries that hold a book:

  1. Select the ‘Books & Libraries’ tab, enter the book title and the first author family name, and click ‘Search’.
  2. Identify the book in the results, and find the number and location of holding libraries at the bottom of the entry, under: ‘Borrow’.

Altmetrics are generally article-level metrics based on metrics from the social web for analysing and informing scholarship. Altmetrics measure the number of times a research output gets cited, tweeted about, liked, shared, bookmarked, viewed, downloaded, mentioned, favourited, reviewed, or discussed. It harvests these numbers from a wide variety of open source web services that count such instances, including open access journal platforms, scholarly citation databases, web-based research sharing services, and social media. For example: 

  • viewed: HTML views or PDF downloads of articles and papers, such as in PLOS One
  • cited: used in mashups, forked on GitHub, cited in CrossRef or by Wikipedia
  • saved: by scholars in Mendeley or Zotero; bookmarked in Diigo
  • discussed: Twitter, ResearchBlogging, NatureBlogs
  • recommenced: liked in Facebook or LinkedIn, reviewed positively in a journal or by an expert 
  • online attention: aggregation of mentions and number of sources.

Plum X Metrics

PlumX Metrics are used within the NDA digital research repository, ResearchOnline@ND. They are intended to "provide insights into the ways people interact with individual pieces of research output (articles, conference proceedings, book chapters, and many more) in the online environment (Plum Analytics, 2023). Research metrics are distributed between the five categories of citations, usage, captures, mentions and social media.

Downloads, page views

Article PDF download or article view data can indicate interest or popularity. Tools that provide download information might be databases, repositories or a journal's website and include ResearchOnline@ND and PLOS journals.

Benefits of Altmetrics

  • Immediate response to output – did you know that a research output is mentioned online every 1.8 seconds?
  • Gather evidence of interest and engagement with the public, broader society.
  • Interest outside of formal publishing.
  • Altmetric aggregators provide contextual information about online attention.
  • Altmetrics can improve the visibility of your work and your research profile.

Limitations of altmetrics

  • Acceptance amongst members of the academic community is split and its use can be controversial.
  • Measures attention not quality.
  • Misuse of metrics has been raised as a concern by some.
  • The value of metrics generated varies and is dependent on the user groups, measures, and fields of research.

Activity - Use ResearchOnline@ND to find downloads, article and researcher statistics

To find the number of article or paper downloads:
1.    Type the journal article title in quotation marks and click 'Search'.
2.    In the results, find the number of downloads next to the green arrow under the reference. 

To find other article levels statistics, including altmetrics:
1.    Type the journal article title in quotation marks and click 'Search'.
2.    In the results, click on the article title to open the article description.
3.    Under the abstract, from bottom left of the 'Impact and interest' bar, click 'More statistics'.

For a download statistics overview of specific researchers:
1.    From the menu on the left, click on 'Person', browse alphabetically, and click the entry.
2.    At the top right of the resulting publications list, click: 'Statistics dashboard'

The statistics dashboard gives a graphical overview, key figures, and most popular works. From the bottom of the page there are full reports.