January 24, 2022

Research Article: “The Insoluble Problems of Books: What Does Altmetric.com Have to Offer” (Preprint)

The article listed below has been accepted for publication the ASLIB Journal of Information Management.


The Insoluble Problems of Books: What Does Altmetric.com Have to Offer


Daniel Torres-Salinas
Universidad de Granada

Juan Gorraiz
Vienna University Library

Nicolas Robinson-Garcia
Universitat Politècnica de València


via arXiv
September 26, 2018
Accepted for Publication the ASLIB Journal of Information Management


Purpose: Analyze the capabilities, functionalities and appropriateness of Altmetric.com as a data source for the bibliometric analysis of books in comparison to PlumX.

Methodology: We perform an exploratory analysis on the metrics the Altmetric Explorer for Institutions platform offers for books. We use two distinct datasets of books. On the one hand, we analyze the Book Collection included in Altmetric.com. On the other, we use Clarivate’s Master Book List, to analyze Altmetric.com’s capabilities to download and merge data with external databases. Finally, we compare our findings with those obtained in a previous study performed in PlumX.

Findings: Altmetric.com combines and orderly tracks a set of data sources combined by DOI identifiers to retrieve metadata from books, being Google Books its main provider. It also retrieves information from commercial publishers and from some Open Access initiatives, including those led by university libraries such as Harvard Library. We find issues with linkages between records and mentions or ISBN discrepancies. Furthermore, we find that automatic bots affect greatly Wikipedia mentions to books. Our comparison with PlumX suggests that none of these tools provide a complete picture of the social attention generated by books and are rather complementary than comparable tools.

Practical Implications: This study targets different audiences which can benefit from our findings. First, bibliometricians and researchers who seek for alternative sources to develop bibliometric analyses of books, with a special focus on the Social Sciences and Humanities fields. Second, librarians and research managers who are the main clients to which these tools are directed. Third, Altmetric.com itself as well as other altmetric providers who might get a better understanding of the limitations users encounter and improve this promising tool.

Originality/Value: This is the first study to analyze Altmetric.com’s functionalities and capabilities for providing metric data for books and to compare results from this platform, with those obtained via PlumX.

Direct to Full Text Article
19 pages; PDF.

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.