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Alternative Metrics of Scholarly Output: The Relationship among Altmetric Score, Mendeley Reader Score, Citations, and Downloads in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Ruan, Qing Zhao M.D.; Chen, Austin D.; Cohen, Justin B. M.D., M.H.S.; Singhal, Dhruv M.D.; Lin, Samuel J. M.D., M.B.A.; Lee, Bernard T. M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: March 2018 - Volume 141 - Issue 3 - p 801-809
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000004128
Plastic Surgery Focus: Special Topics

Background: The impact of scholarly output is typically measured by the number of citations and, more recently, downloads. Newer metrics have been developed to reflect digital dissemination of knowledge such as the Altmetric and Mendeley reader scores. This article examines the relationship among citations, download rates, Altmetric scores, and Mendeley reader scores in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Methods: The authors accessed the 55 most-cited articles published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery from 2014 to 2015. Altmetric scores, download rates, field-weighted citations, and Mendeley reader number were extracted. Correlation matrices were used to identify methodologies positively correlating between scores. The top-ranked articles were then collectively evaluated for central subject themes and unifying scoring methodologies.

Results: The highest Altmetric score obtained was 159, the greatest number of citations was 52, and the greatest number of downloads was 41. There was no apparent correlation between Altmetric scores and Scopus citations (p = 0.58) or article subject themes (p = 0.63). Citation was positively associated with download rates (r = 0.31, p = 0.021) and Mendeley reader number (r = 0.46, p = 0.001). Mendeley reader number demonstrated high precision in identifying top-ranked citation articles (p = 0.044) despite its lack of direct association with Altmetric score (p = 0.83).

Conclusions: With the growing public desire for evidence-based publications, our study quantifies the unique nature of Altmetric score while discouraging its use in isolation. Download rates are a more rapid measure of publication impact compared with citation number. Mendeley readership is also promising as an alternative index.

Boston, Mass.

From the Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School.

Received for publication May 5, 2017; accepted September 15, 2017.

Disclosure:The authors did not receive any funding for this study. They have no financial disclosures and report no conflicts of interest.

Bernard T. Lee, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 110 Francis Street, Suite 5A, Boston, Mass. 02215,

Copyright © 2018 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons