The ultimate guide to staying up-to-date on your articles’ impact

You published a paper–congrats!  Has anyone read it?  Cited it?  Talked about it on Twitter?  How can you find out–as it happens?

Automated alerts!  Email updates that matter come right to you.

We’ve compiled a two-part primer on the services that deliver essential research impact metrics straight to your inbox, so you can stay up to date without having to do a lot of work.

In this post, we’ll share tips for how to automagically track citations, altmetrics and downloads for your publications; in our next post, we’ll share strategies for tracking similar metrics for your data, code, slides, and social media outreach.


Let’s start with citations: the “coin of the realm” to track scholarly impact. You can get citation alerts in two main ways: from Google Scholar or from traditional citation indices.

Google Scholar Citations alerts

Google Scholar citations track any citations to your work that occur on the scholarly web. These citations can appear in any type of scholarly document (white papers, slide decks, and of course journal articles are all fair game) and in documents of any language. Naturally, this means that your citation count on Google Scholar may be larger than on other citation services.

To get Google Scholar alerts, first sign up for a Google Scholar Citations account and add all the documents you want to track citations for. Then, visit your profile page and click the blue “Follow” button at the top of your profile. You’ll see a drop-down like this:

Screenshot of a Google Scholar profile, showing the blue

Enter your preferred email address in the box that appears, then click “Create alert.” You’ll now get an alert anytime you’ve received a citation.

Citation alerts via Scopus & 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: you have to have subscription access to set alerts.

Web of Knowledge

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?

Tracking article 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. A number of services can send you this information via email notifications for content hosted on their sites. Impactstory can send you pageview and download information for some content hosted elsewhere.

Publisher notifications

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. If they do, let us know by leaving a comment below, and we’ll update this guide!

ResearchGate &


Some places where you upload free-to-read versions of your papers, like ResearchGate and, will report how many people have viewed your paper on their site.

You can turn on email notifications for pageviews, downloads, comments, bookmarks, and citations by other papers on ResearchGate 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 new metrics notifications for pageviews, downloads, and bookmarks are under “Analytics” and “Papers”; on Researchgate, it’s under “Your publications” and “Scheduled updates”.

PLOS article metrics via Impactstory

Impactstory now offers alerts, so you’re notified any time your articles get new metrics, including pageviews and downloads. However, we currently only offer these metrics for articles published in PLOS journals. (If you’d like to see us add similar notifications for other publishers, submit an idea to our Feedback site!) We describe how to get Impactstory notifications for the articles that matter to you in the Social Media section below.

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, and any work that’s uploaded to ResearchGate can be commented upon, too. Reviews can also be tracked via alerts.


To make sure you’re notified with 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.”


To set your ResearchGate notifications, login to the site and navigate to “Settings” > “Notifications.” Check the boxes next to “One of my publications is rated, bookmarked or commented on” and “Someone reviews my publication”.

Post-publication peer reviews from Publons and PubPeer are included in notification emails, and will be included in Impactstory emails in the near future. Instructions for signing up for Altmetric and Impactstory 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

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.

Social media metrics via allows you to track altmetrics and receive notifications for any article that you have published, no matter the publisher.


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 drill-down view of the metrics. 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 these notification emails is that you have to sign up to track each of your articles individually, which can cause inbox mayhem if you are tracking many publications.

Social media metrics via Impactstory


Here at Impactstory, we recently launched similar notification emails. Our emails differ in that they alert you to new social media metrics, bookmarks, and citations for all of your articles, aggregated into a single report.

To get started, create an Impactstory profile and connect your profile to ORCID, Google Scholar, and other third-party services. This will allow you to auto-import your articles. If a few of your articles are missing, you can add them one by one by clicking the “Import stuff” icon, clicking the “Import individual products” link on the next page, and then providing links and DOIs. Once your profile is set up, you’ll start to receive your notification emails once every 1-2 weeks.

When you get your first email, take a look at your “cards”. Each card highlights something unique about your new metrics for that week or month: if you’re in a top percentile related to other papers published that year or if your PLOS paper has topped 1000 views or gotten new Mendeley readers. You’ll get a card for each type of new metric one of your articles receives.

Note that Impactstory notification emails also contain alerts for metrics that your other types of outputs–including data, code and slide decks–receive, but we’ll cover that in more detail in our next post.

Now you’ve got more time for the things that matter

No more wasting your days scouring 10+ websites for evidence of your articles’ impact; it’s now delivered to your inbox, as new impacts accumulate.

Do you have more types of research outputs, beyond journal articles? In our next post, we’ll tell you how to set up similar notifications to track the impact of your data, software, and more.

Updates to describe the revamped Impactstory interface and new notification options for ResearchGate and
5/27/2014: Added information about PubChase notification emails.

14 thoughts on “The ultimate guide to staying up-to-date on your articles’ impact

  1. Your Impactstory notification emails are nice. In my case, though, they are dominated by the “new YouTube views” and I don’t get metrics on any other objects. Because I have a collection of educational videos on YouTube that often get more than 100 new views in a week, all my “cards” report on these videos. I assume it’s because your notification emails pick the high-value metric changes.

    Are the notifications customizable in any way? Or could you perhaps pick the top-performers from each object type? Or always include the top articles (even if they have just a handful of views, compared with the other objects).

    • Hi Lorena,

      Thanks for the kind words on the new alert emails!

      Right now, the emails include up to 10 cards. They are lightly sorted to give priority to round-number milestones and other relatively rare events, so these are more likely to be near the top and included in the 10 cards (for people who might otherwise have more than 10 events).

      There’s currently no way to customize the notifications, but we are tweaking the emails based on user feedback. So, we’ll take your excellent suggestions into account.


  2. Willem Jongman says:

    I am a firm believer in the relevance of such metrics, and of the value of WoS in particular. However, in the humanities books are also important, and so are articles in niche journals. These can generate large nmbers of important citations in WoS journals. Contrary to what many claim, these can indeed be made visible in Web of Science, by using cited reference search. However, that is a manual procedure and cumbersome if yours is a common name. The only automated option is to do this for citations in WoS journals to articles in WoS journals. Which is precisely the way to miss many citations to important publications like your books.
    Are there means to make this easier?

    • Hi Willem!

      If your institution’s subscription to Web of Knowledge includes the Book Citation Index (often included as part of the Web of Science “core collection”), you can set up citation alerts in that service. You might also try creating a search alert for a cited reference search, using an author identifier (rather than a name) if yours is a common name. (Though I should warn you that ORCID searching on WoK is currently broken, so I wasn’t able to test the latter use case to be sure that it actually works.)

      That said, at Impactstory we deal much less with books and niche humanities pubs, so I may be missing some suggestions. I encourage others to share other ideas here.

    • Hi Alan,

      Thanks for the reminder! Kudos is indeed a great service for authors.

      They differ from Impactstory in that Kudos is more about providing scientists with the tools necessary to promote papers, whereas our site collects and publicly reports impacts for papers plus other research outputs. Their metrics are good–they track how others use your paper on their site, as well as the Altmetric score for your paper–but I’m not sure they email you your statistics. (I could be wrong on that, having only recently signed up for Kudos.)

      Do you have experience with using Kudos to track the impact of your articles, Alan? If so, do you use it to receive impact alerts for your work?

  3. Reporting two months later on my Impactstory notification emails — they are still rather useless to me, I’m afraid. Each and every one of them lists report cards for my YouTube videos only. These get a lot of views, and it’s nice that students are using them, but Impactstory notifications would be useful to me if they reported on other objects.

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