Any frequent readers of this blog will be aware I am interested in article level metrics. I am particularly interested in the work done by Altmetric. Last week they published their annual top 100 list. I wrote this post about it.

 The Altmetric Explorer is a tool for measuring the attention that scholarly articles receive online, and its intuitive user interface works as a live searchable database that allows users to browse the journals and repositories Altmetric tracks and obtain detailed reports.

On a weekly basis Altmetric captures hundreds of thousands of tweets, blog posts, news stories, Facebook walls and other content that mentions scholarly articles on the Web. The Explorer can browse, search and filter this data. The data can be exported by the user as ‘reports’ as simple text or spreadsheets, which can be then analysed in different forms. For example, The Explorer provides demographic data of the Twitter users found mentioning specific outputs, and thus works as a mechanism for the study of academic users of social media.

In the past few years I have often suggested, online, in talks, workshops and lectures, that the Altmetric Explorer can be useful to researchers as well. Librarians with access to the tool can help students and researchers get new views of recent articles that are receiving attention online. People often focus on ‘altmetrics’ as indicators of online activity around published outputs, but I often insist the Altmetric Explorer is useful as well as a tool for searching, discovering, collecting, creating, archiving, sharing and analysing bibliographic reference collections as datasets including not just bibliographic data including identifiers and/or URLs but also historical data of any metrics the service has tracked and quantified at the time of the data query/collection.

Inspired by Altmetric’s annual Top 100 list I used the Altmetric Explorer to search for the top articles with keyword ‘comics’ mentioned in the past 1 year. I did this particular search on the morning of Tuesday 20 December 2016. Dating the collection (and indicating the specific query) is always important as social media metrics are hopefully dynamic and not static (i.e. we expect an output’s altmetrics to change over time).

After my query I saved as usual my search as  a ‘workspace’ on the app and then exported the dataset as a CSV file. I then manually cleaned and refined the data to obtain a file listing the top 100 references specifically on comics including their altmetrics. Data refining was needed to ensure the list included articles about comics, eliminating any non-relevant outputs (i.e. they were not about comics) and to correct text rendering errors, add missing data (like output titles when missing from the initial export) and limit the set to only 100 items by deleting the extra outputs.*

I have deposited and shared the dataset as

Priego, Ernesto (2016): The 2016 Altmetric Top 100 Outputs with ‘Comics’ as Keyword Mentioned in the Past 1 Year. figshare. Retrieved: 17 06, Dec 21, 2016 (GMT)

Hopefully it will be of interest to some of you out there. For comparison here’s these other datasets I have deposited on figshare in previous years:

Priego, Ernesto (2015): Almetrics of articles from the comics journals mentioned at least once in the past 1 year as tracked by Altmetric (20 August 2015). figshare. Retrieved: 17 21, Dec 21, 2016 (GMT)


Priego, Ernesto (2014): Comics Journals Articles Tracked by Altmetric in the last year (Dec 2013-Dec 2014). figshare. Retrieved: 17 23, Dec 21, 2016 (GMT)


Though the two datasets above are outputs from different search queries (focusing on specific comics journals tracked by Altmetric rather than in any articles with keyword ‘comics’) we should we able to continue collecting data for future transversal studies.

Having yearly datasets obtained from the same queries, over a series of years, would provide evidence of comics scholarship’s presence online, and of the field’s (and Altmetric’s)  evolving practices.

*It is possible the degree of relevance varies. Some outputs do not have ‘comics’ in their title but do discuss comics, for example ‘A randomized study of multimedia informational aids for research on medical practices: Implications for informed consent’ (Kraft et al 2016). It is possible however that a non-comics article or two remained, if you spot one do please let me know or leave a comment on the figshare output and I will correct and create a new version. It might also be noted that various outputs included are from The Conversation, which is not an academic journal, but it is tracked by Altmetric as it focuses on academic research news written by academics. For information and context about how Altmetric sources the data please read this.