Insights from the Altmetric Top 100 2016

Altmetric Top 100 2016 Affiliations. via Altmetric

The Altmetric Top 100 2016 was published yesterday. If you click on the green ‘read more about this list’ button, you’ll see useful analysis of the data.

[I also wrote about the Altmetric Top 100 2014, here and here.]

It’s very welcome that this year Altmetric has deposited the article and affiliation data as two datasets as a collection on figshare:

Engineering, Altmetric (2016): Altmetric Top 100 2016. figshare. Retrieved: 11 24, Dec 14, 2016 (GMT)

This time the source data provides greater insights, particularly the article’s access type  (Open Access, ‘Free’ or paywalled), type of content (article, letter, etc.) and subject.

Altmetric has already provided an analysis of this data (percentage of OA outputs in the list; countries of affiliations, institutions etc.) but having access to the source data means their analysis, visualisations and findings are actually reproducible (reproducibility was identified as a topic gaining interest; see Cat Williams’ post here). By providing access to the source data openly, other types of analysis are not only possible but encouraged (for example text and content analysis of the top 100 output titles).

One insight for me is that this list again demonstrates the dominance of the usual countries of affiliation, and up to a certain extent of the same journals (considering that Altmetric tracks a selection of publications, not all publications that exist).

I was interested in finding out whether the Top 100 would include any articles authored or coauthored by researchers with a Mexican institution as affiliation. There are two:

  1. A genome-wide association scan in admixed Latin Americans identifies loci influencing facial and scalp hair features. Nature Communications 7, Article number: 10815 (2016) doi:10.1038/ncomms10815 (Published online:01 March 2016)
  2. Beverage purchases from stores in Mexico under the excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages: observational study. BMJ 2016;352:h6704 doi: (Published 06 January 2016)

It is notable that both articles are the result of international coauthorship; the Nature Communications article including authors from other Latin American countries (Argenitna, Chile, Colombia); the BMJ one from Mexico and the United States. Importantly, both articles are open access.

I was also interested in seeing whether any Information Science or Computer Science research had made it into the list. There is only one article whose subject was categorised as “Information and Computer Sciences”:

Mastering the game of Go with deep neural networks and tree search. Nature 529,484–489 (28 January 2016) doi:10.1038/nature16961

This is a paywalled article authored by a team of 21 authors with Google DeepMind (London, UK) as affiliation.

I believe access to this data is useful to understand the evolving landscape of scholarly communications. It can also help us authors to gain insights into what kind of research is receiving attention online.

For example, the data seems to contribute to a body of encdotal and bibliometric evidence indicating that, for researchers with affiliations in ‘developing’ nations,  open access and international collaboration remains key to greater visibility.

This year’s data also shows, again, that some countries (in the case of Africa, a whole continent), fields, and journals, remain under-represented or not present at all. It should also be noted that the only Computer Science article in the list is not by researchers affiliated to universities but to Google.

Yesterday I tweeted some quick thoughts after checking out the datasets, and compiled them using the new-ish ‘Moments’ feature on Twitter, which, for what it’s worth, I have embedded below.

[I also wrote about the Altmetric Top 100 2014, here and here.]


Engineering, Altmetric (2016): Altmetric Top 100 2016. figshare. Retrieved: 11 24, Dec 14, 2016 (GMT)

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