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Altmetrics: an overview and evaluation

Ann E. Williams (Department of Communication, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview and critique of altmetrics, an understudied yet increasingly important arena of study for scholars, academics, and professional researchers.


The paper is organized into six parts: the first defines altmetrics; the second examines how altmetrics work; the third presents multiple typologies under which altmetrics can be classified and studied; the fourth details the technological capabilities of altmetrics; the fifth presents a critical evaluation of the “pros and cons” of altmetrics; and, the sixth outlines some directions for future and ongoing research.


The conclusions detail the strengths and limitations of altmetrics and point toward avenues for continued research and development.


This paper is among the first to provide a substantive review and evaluation of altmetrics for academics to consider when adopting, utilizing, and researching these tools.



The author would like to thank Seifu Adem for his research assistance.


Williams, A.E. (2017), "Altmetrics: an overview and evaluation", Online Information Review, Vol. 41 No. 3, pp. 311-317.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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