October 6, 2015

A New Working Paper: “Do ‘Altmetrics’ Correlate with Citations?”

The following working paper was recently shared on the Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University (Netherlands) web site.

Full Title

Do Altmetrics Correlate with Citations? Extensive Comparison of Altmetric Indicators with Citations From a Multidisciplinary Perspective (31 pages; PDF)
January 17, 2014


Rodrigo Costas
Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University

Zohreh Zahedi
Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University

Paul Wouters
Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University


Centre for Science and Technology Studies, University of Leiden (Netherlands)
Note: The paper is also available via arXiv.


An extensive analysis of the presence of different altmetric indicators provided by Altmetric.com across scientific fields is presented, particularly focusing on their relationship with citations.

Our results confirm that the presence and density of social media altmetric counts are still very low and not very frequent among scientific publications, with 15%-24% of the publications presenting some altmetric activity and concentrating in the most recent publications, although their presence is increasing over time. Publications from the social sciences, humanities and the medical and life sciences show the highest presence of altmetrics, indicating their potential value and interest for these fields.

The analysis of the relationships between altmetrics and citations confirms previous claims of positive correlations but relatively weak, thus supporting the idea that altmetrics do not reflect the same concept of impact as citations. Also, altmetric counts do not always present a better filtering of highly cited publications than journal citation scores.

Altmetrics scores (particularly mentions in blogs) are able to identify highly cited publications with higher levels of precision than journal citation scores (JCS), but they have a lower level of recall. The value of altmetrics as a complementary tool of citation analysis is highlighted, although more research is suggested to disentangle the potential meaning and value of altmetric indicators for research evaluation.

Direct to Full Text Working Paper

See Also: More Working Papers from the Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University (Netherlands)

Papers Include

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

Craft Exceptional Digital Experiences for Your Users
Digital UX LJ and ER&L present an exceptional roster of library and user experience (UX) experts for our newest online course, Digital UX Workshop: Crafting Exceptional Digital Experiences for the User-Centered Library. During this 5-week online workshop, you will explore why UX matters, and how to sell user-centered design (UCD) to leadership within your organization. Whether you want to redesign your website, revamp your user interface, create a new discovery tool, implement e-resources, or develop a mobile app—you’ll have a tangible product by the end of the course.