Nature Sustainability papers' impact in numbers

Here's a peek into the statistics about citations, online views and Altmetric attention score for all the papers published in the first two years of the journal.
Published in Sustainability
Nature Sustainability papers' impact in numbers

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Numbers show only part of the story about a paper's impact, but they are a good start to understand it*. For each article published at Nature Sustainability, the website counts three measures about the attention the paper receives: number of citations, of online accesses, and Altmetric Attention Score. The number of accesses shows how many times the article has been viewed online. The Altmetric is a synthetic indicator that combines access, citations and mentions in news pieces, blogs and social media.

You can see these indicators for any individual publication at the paper's webpage, and more details in their respective 'Metrics' link. For example, the tweets mentioning the paper above are listed here: , just a few clicks away through 'Metrics'.

For a change, I swapped the reading & editing hat for my dusty coding one, and web-harvested numbers about papers at Nature Sustainability. Here's a snapshot of these three metrics for all the papers we've published since the journal was launched in January 2018 until 31 of December 2019 (I collected the data on 1 May 2020 and excluded all 2020 articlesit often takes papers a while to garner attention).

Similar to a histogram, the panels show the count of papers (y-axis) within each range: for Accesses, each bar shows 0 to 100 accesses, etc. (x-axis); for Altmetric, 0 to 10. For Citations, each bar is a given number of citations. The rightmost bar in each panel shows all papers exceeding the range in the x-axis. n=255 primary research, reviews and opinion papers, excluding News & Views, Q&A etc. (right-click to view larger)

For example, most papers have been viewed at our website somewhere between 400 and 1,100 times (Access panel) and just over ten of them, above 4,000 times. About the same number of papers have been cited more than 50 times already. A bit over a handful papers have an Altmetric attention score over 500 (whatever it means). High attention is sometimes because the papers are controversial, timely or blaze through news outlets. To understand why, one has to look at each paper's metrics page. For instance, these are the top three:

If you enjoy taking a closer look at data, here's more.

These three indicators can be easily decomposed across our types of content: primary research pieces (Article, 98 papers; Analysis, 60 and Brief Communication, 13) and opinion and long pieces (Comment, 34; Perspective, 33 and Review, 17). For example, Review articles might not receive such a strong Altmetric Attention Score, but they tend to be very cited and attract many views.



Altmetric Attention Score

* In case you're wondering about the official Impact Factor, the journal is too young to have one (but it'll come soon). There is also a draft in the drawer for a more exciting post on 'Nature Sustainability papers' impacts in words' ;-)

Both the data collection and figures were done in R.

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Go to the profile of Gao Jianguo
about 4 years ago

Well done, Aiora!

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