Impact Challenge Day 29: Discover when your work is discussed & shared online

You’re engaging other scholars online; they’re discussing your open access work with you and other scientists; and you’ve minted identifiers that’ll let you track your work’s reach on the Web.

Now comes the fun part: measuring your research’s many impacts.

In today’s challenge, we’ll explore how the services you’ve signed up for–, Slideshare, Figshare, and so on–and others can be used to track the impacts of all of your research outputs.

Then tomorrow, we’ll cover our webapp, Impactstory, which brings together many of these metrics into a single, comprehensive impact profile.

Let’s dig in!


Citations are the “coin of the realm” to track scholarly impact, not only for your articles but also your research data, too. You can get citation alerts in three main ways: from Google Scholar, from traditional citation indices, and from newer databases like the Data Citation Index.

Google Scholar Citations alerts

Your Google Scholar profile can be used to alert you whenever your articles receive new citations online. It tracks any citations to your publications that occur on the scholarly web.

If you haven’t already signed up for citation alerts, visit your profile page and click the blue “Follow” button at the top of your profile. Select “Follow new citations” link and enter your preferred email address, then click “Create alert.” Notifications will arrive in your inbox when you receive new citations.

If you want to explore who has already cited you, visit your profile page, and click on the number of citations to the right of the article you want to track citations for:

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On the next page, you’ll see a list of all the papers that have cited you, some of which you’ll be able to click-through and read:

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Remember: Google Scholar indexes citations it finds in a wide range of scholarly document (white papers, slide decks, and of course journal articles are all fair game) and in documents of any language. The data pool is also mixed with respect to peer-review status; some of these citations will be in the peer reviewed literature, some will not. This means that your citation count on Google Scholar may be larger than on other citation services.

Web of Knowledge

Traditional citation indices like Scopus and Web of Knowledge are another good way to get citation alerts delivered to your inbox. These services are more selective in scope, so you’ll be notified only when your work is cited by vetted, peer-reviewed publications.

However, they only track citations for select journal articles and book chapters–a far cry from the diverse citations that are available from Google Scholar. Another drawback: your institution must have a subscription for you to set alerts.

Web of Knowledge offers article-level citation alerts. To create an alert, you first have to register with Web of Knowledge by clicking the “Sign In” button at the top right of the screen, then selecting “Register”.


Then, set your preferred database to the Web of Science Core Collection (alerts cannot be set up across all databases at once). To do that, click the orange arrow next to “All Databases” to the right of “Search” in the top-left corner. You’ll get a drop-down list of databases, from which you should select “Web of Science Core Collection.”

Now you’re ready to create an alert. On the Basic Search screen, search for your article by its title. Click on the appropriate title to get to the article page. In the upper right hand corner of the record, you’ll find the Citation Network box. Click “Create citation alert.” Let Web of Knowledge know your preferred email address, then save your alert.


In Scopus, you can set up alerts for both articles and authors. To create an alert for an article, search for it and then and click on the title in your search results. Once you’re on the Article Abstract screen, you will see a list of papers that cite your article on the right-hand side. To set your alert, click “Set alert” under “Inform me when this document is cited in Scopus.”

To set an author-level alert, click the Author Search tab on the Scopus homepage and run a search for your name. If multiple results are returned, check the author affiliation and subjects listed to find your correct author profile. Next, click on your author profile link. On your author details page, follow the “Get citation alerts” link, and list your saved alert, set an email address, and select your preferred frequency of alerts. Once you’re finished, save your alert.

With alerts set for all three of these services, you’ll now be notified when your work is cited in virtually any publication in the world! But citations only capture a very specific form of scholarly impact. How do we learn about other uses of your articles?

Data Citation Index

If you’ve deposited your data into a repository that assigns a DOI, the Data Citation Index (DCI) is often the best way to learn if your dataset has been cited in the literature.

To create an alert, you’ll need a subscription to the service, so check with your institution to see if you have access. If you do, you can set up an alert by first creating a personal registration with the Data Citation Index; click the “Sign In” button at the top right of the screen, then select “Register”. (If you’re already registered with Web of Knowledge to get citation alerts for your articles, there’s no need to set up a separate registration.)

Then, set your preferred database to the Data Citation Index by clicking the orange arrow next to “All Databases” to the right of “Search” in the top-left corner. You’ll get a drop-down list of databases; select “Data Citation Index.”

Now you’re ready to create an alert. On the Basic Search screen, search for your dataset by its title. Click on the appropriate title to get to the dataset’s item record. In the upper right hand corner of the record, you’ll find the Citation Network box. Click “Create citation alert.” Let the Data Citation Index know your preferred email address, then save your alert.

Pageviews & downloads

How many people are reading your work? While you can’t be certain that article pageviews and full-text downloads mean people are reading your articles, many scientists still find these measures to be a good proxy. And some repositories like Dryad and Figshare provide this information, too, so you can track the interest in the datasets, slides, and other content you upload.

Publisher websites

Publishers like PLOS display pageview and download information for individual articles on their website, alongside other data like citations and altmetrics.

Let’s take a closer look at PLOS’s pageview & download metrics. PLOS combines pageviews that happen on their website with pageviews and downloads the article receives on PubMed Central in a single view on the top of the article’s page:

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If you click on the metrics tab of the article page, you get more useful information: total views and download numbers by source, over time; a basic impact graph; and a graph of the relative popularity of this article, compared to articles in the same discipline that are published in PLOS:

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Here’s a closer look at the views and downloads grid and graph:

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On articles’ Metrics pages, PLOS also provides other data, including citations from a variety of sources, social media and scholarly bookmarking services.

For PLOS and many other publishers, these metrics are only available on their websites. Some pioneering publishers go one step further, sending you an email when you’ve got new pageviews and downloads on their site.

Publisher notifications

In addition to displaying pageviews and downloads on their websites, publishers like PeerJ and Frontiers send notification emails as a service to their authors.

If you’re a PeerJ author, you should receive notification emails by default once your article is published. But if you want to check if your notifications are enabled, sign into, and click your name in the upper right hand corner. Select “Settings.” Choose “Notification Settings” on the left nav bar, and then select the “Summary” tab. You can then choose to receive daily or weekly summary emails for articles you’re following.

In Frontiers journals, it works like this: once logged in, click the arrow next to your name on the upper left-hand side and select “Settings.” On the left-hand nav bar, choose “Messages,” and under the “Other emails” section, check the box next to “Frontiers monthly impact digest.”

Both publishers aggregate activity for all of the publications you’ve published with them, so no need to worry about multiple emails crowding your inbox at once.

Not a PeerJ or Frontiers author? Contact your publisher to find out if they offer notifications for metrics related to articles you’ve published.

Impactstory also offers alerts that include this data for PLOS articles, so you’re notified any time your articles get new metrics, including pageviews and downloads. (We’ll talk more about all the data we provide in tomorrow’s challenge.)

ResearchGate &


Both ResearchGate and will report how many people have viewed and downloaded your paper on their site.

You can turn on email notifications for pageviews and downloads by visiting “Settings” (on both sites, click the triangle in the upper right-hand corner of your screen). Then, click on the “Notifications” tab in the sidebar menu, and check off the types of emails you want to receive.

On, the option to receive pageview & download notifications are described as “There’s new activity in my analytics (includes “Analytics Snapshot”)”; on Researchgate, it’s under Scheduled Emails > “Weekly update about my personal stats and RG Score.”

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Dryad data repository and Figshare both display page view and download information on their web sites, but they don’t send notification emails when new downloads happen. You can import your Dryad and Figshare-hosted metrics to Impactstory to get notification emails; more on that tomorrow.

Post-publication peer review

Some articles garner comments as a form of post-publication peer review.


PeerJ authors are notified any time their articles get a comment. To make sure you’re notified when you receive new PeerJ comments, login to PeerJ and go to “Settings” > “Notification Settings”  and then click on the “Email” tab. There, check the box next to “Someone posts feedback on an article I wrote” and select all the options under the “Activity on my articles” section, too.


Any work that’s uploaded to ResearchGate can be commented upon. To set your ResearchGate notifications, login to the site and navigate to “Settings” > “Notifications.” Check the boxes next to “Someone reviews one of my publications” and “Someone bookmarks or comments on my publication.” (While you’re there, you can also check off “One of my publications was cited”–it’ll alert you any time another ResearchGate document cites one of your papers that’s on ResearchGate.)

Reviews can also be tracked via alerts. Post-publication peer reviews from Publons and PubPeer are included in reports and notification emails. Instructions for signing up for notifications can be found below.


Article recommendation platform PubChase can also be used to set up notifications for PubPeer comments and reviews that your articles receive. To set it up, first add your articles to your PubChase library (either by searching and adding papers one-by-one, or by syncing PubChase with your Mendeley account). Then, hover over the Account icon in the upper-right hand corner, and select “My Account.” Click “Email Settings” on the left-hand navigation bar, and then check the box next to “PubPeer comments” to get your alerts.

Social media metrics via

What are other researchers saying about your articles around the water cooler? It used to be that we couldn’t track these informal conversations, but now we’re able to listen in using social media sites like Twitter and on blogs. Here’s how. allows you to track altmetrics and receive notifications for any article that you have published that’s got a DOI, PubMed ID, ArXiv ID, or Handle. It’s a type of altmetrics aggregator, very similar to Impactstory and PlumX.


First, install the browser bookmarklet (visit this page and drag the “Altmetric It!” button into your browser menu bar). Then, find your article on the publisher’s website and click the “Altmetric it!” button. The altmetrics for your article will appear in the upper right-hand side of your browser window, in a pop-up box similar to the one at right.

Next, follow the “Click for more details” link in the Altmetric pop-up. You’ll be taken to a detailed report of your metrics and the underlying qualitative data.

This report (seen below) shows you not only the numbers, but also lets you read the individual blogs, policy documents, newspapers, and other online outlets that mention your article. The donut visualization at the top-left of the report includes a single, weighted score that attempts to sum up the attention that your work has received. Below the visualization is contextual information that shows you how the article’s metrics compare to those of articles published in the same year, journal, and so on.

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At the bottom left-hand corner of the page, you can sign up to receive notifications whenever someone mentions your article online.

The only drawback of’s notification emails is that you have to sign up for a new notification for each article. This can cause inbox mayhem if you are tracking many publications.

Social media metrics via Impactstory

Impactstory provides many of the same metrics as, rolled up into a single profile. (In fact, Altmetric’s such an ace data source that we use some of their data to in our reports.) More on that tomorrow!

Software metrics via GitHub

If you use the collaborative coding website GitHub to store and work with research data or software, you can see metrics and enable email alerts for certain types of activities.

As we discussed in our GitHub challenge, GitHub has some good metrics that can tell you how your code is being reused, commented upon, and so on–in real time. Some GitHub metrics that you’ll find on individual repository pages include:

  • Stars: some GitHub users “star” repositories as a means of showing appreciation for your work; others use them as a bookmark, so they can find and revisit your code more easily.
  • Forks: a “fork” is created when another user copies one of your repositories so they can explore and experiment without affecting your original code. It’s a good signal of reuse.
  • Pull requests: When a user wants to suggest changes to your code, they’ll issue a pull request. The number of pull request and identities of contributors can be good indicators of how collaborative your work is and who your high-profile collaborators are.

To enable notifications for your stars and forks, you’ll need to connect your GitHub account to Impactstory–GitHub itself doesn’t report on that just yet.



Though Slideshare is best known for allowing users to view and share slide decks, some researchers also use it to share conference posters. The platform sends users detailed weekly alert emails about new metrics their slide decks and posters have received, including the number of total views, downloads, comments, favorites, tweets, and likes.

Here’s how to view your Slideshare metrics on the Web: on your slide deck’s page, scroll down to find the “Statistics” tab under the description section, then click on it. Here you’ll find all the metrics related to others’ interest in your slides.

Some metrics you might accumulate include:

  • Views on both Slideshare and other websites
  • Embeds, which can tell you how many times and where others have shared your slides
  • Downloads, which can tell you if others have liked your slides enough to save them to their computer
  • Comments, which themselves can tell you what others think about your slides
  • Likes, which as you might guess can tell you if others like your work

To receive notification emails, go to and click the profile icon in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Then, click “Email” in the left-hand navigation bar, and check the “With the statistics of my content” box to start receiving your weekly notification emails.

Vimeo and Youtube metrics

Vimeo and Youtube both provide a solid suite of statistics for videos hosted on their sites, and you can use those metrics to track the impact of your video research outputs (like your video abstracts).

Vimeo tracks likes, comments, and plays for videos hosted on their platform; Youtube reports the same, plus dislikes and favorites. You can view these metrics beneath the your videos on each platform.

To get metrics notifications for your videos hosted on either of these sites, you’ll need to add links to your videos to your Impactstory profile. More on that tomorrow!


There are so many ways to collect metrics for your work, it’s hard to keep up. And even aggregators that attempt to collect these metrics for you into a single place–like Impactstory,, and PlumX–don’t collect everything.

We recommend taking a hybrid approach to staying on top of your impacts: sign up for an aggregator that can collect Twitter, blog, Slideshare, Figshare, etc metrics into one place for you, then supplement any metrics they can’t track (for example, Web of Knowledge or Data Citation Index citations) with email notifications from specific services.


Do some serious thinking about what metrics mean the most to you. And with those metrics in mind, sign up for the appropriate notification emails that’ll keep you up-to-date on your impacts.

Tomorrow is the final day of the Impact Challenge, and we’re covering the subject we know the best: Impactstory! See you then!

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