Making the Mission Visible: Altmetrics and Nontraditional Publishing

Authors : Jennifer L. Bonnet, Marisa Méndez-Brady


Whereas traditional book and journal publishing remain the gold standard for many post-secondary institutions, nontraditional publishing is just as prolific at the flagship university in Maine. The university has strong land and sea grant missions that drive a broad research agenda, with an emphasis on community outreach and engagement.

However, the impact of researchers’ contributions outside of academe is unlikely to be accurately reflected in promotion, tenure or review processes. Thus, the authors designed a series of altmetrics workshops aimed at seeding conversations around novel ways to track the impact of researchers’ diverse scholarly and creative outputs.


This paper presents a case study of the instructional approach taken at the University of Maine library to facilitate discussions of alternative impact assessments that reach beyond traditional publications.


Evaluations revealed an increased awareness of, and interest in, impact tracking tools that capture both traditional scholarship, like journal articles, and nontraditional scholarly and creative outputs, such as videos, podcasts and newsletters.

The authors learned that altmetrics provides an entry point into a broader conversation about scholarly impact, and was best received by those whose scholarly output is not always captured by traditional metrics.

Practical implications

Scholars are equipped with novel methods for describing the value of their work and discovering a broader audience for their research. Future initiatives will target the needs identified through initial conversations around altmetrics.


Altmetrics workshops provide spaces to explore the potential for new tools that capture a range of previously unconsidered measures of impact, and to discuss the implications of those measures.