Study of Altmetrics and Traditional Metrics Tries to Capture Impact of Books

The Levy Library of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, a PlumX customer, recently participated in authoring an article, “The Complexity of Measuring the Impact of Books,” published online in June and in print in Publishing Research Quarterly, September 2016. The authors also wrote a blog post about it in the Levy Library Research Insider.

The article authors, Gali Halevi, MLS, PhD, Barnaby Nicolas, MSIS and Judit Bar-Ilan, PhD set out to determine if there are scholarly evaluation metrics that can help measure the impact of books across a wide range of book types and contents. This study took into effect citation counts and altmetric data.

Can a study by Levy Library measure the impact of books in a collection? The authors use traditional and altmetrics to determine the answer.

The authors analyzed more than 70,000 books and collected various metrics per each title including traditional and altmetrics measures. They used PlumX Dashboards to gather the altmetrics for the study, which examined books with the highest rates of citations, reviews, readership, downloads, Twitter engagement and other indicators. The authors made these points about using altmetrics to take a multifaceted approach to books evaluation:

  • Literature readership (e.g. Abstract views, Article PDF downloads, Library Holdings)
  • Bookmarking (exporting citations to social and/or collaborative reference managers)
  • Popular mentions (Wikipedia, blogging, reviews sites)
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook likes and shares)
  • Multimedia content sharing applications (number of clicks on multi-media profiles such as YouTube or SlideShare)

The study concluded that there is no single measure that universally captures the impact of books. The authors wrote:

Our results show that books display different impact in each of the measurements and vary by types and content. There isn’t one measure that captures the impact of books across the board.

Furthermore, in light of our analysis, we recommend using both traditional metrics such as citations and reviews as well as altmetrics such as social media mentions, downloads, reads and views. Using platforms such as PlumX can assist in capturing such metrics.

If you wrestle with questions of measuring the value of books, this could be a helpful guide. One recommendation of the study is to examine smaller, topic- and type-focused data sets and compare them against each other.

Find out how books display differing impact as they vary by types and content by reading the blog post or the full article. Note: This title is behind a paywall.



Halevi, G., Nichols, B., & Bar-Ilan, J. (2016, September). The Complexity of Measuring the Impact of Books. Publishing Research Quarterly, 32(3), 187-200. doi:10.1007/s12109-016-9464-5