Taking the Measure of Your Data, Software, Posters, Etc.

This piece by Stacy Konkiel originally appeared on the Impactstory blog and is reposted under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Impactstory is an open-source, web-based tool that helps scientists explore and share the diverse impacts of all their research products.

This is the second of two “ultimate guides” on practical tips for measuring the impact of academic output. The first examined strategies for journal articles.


Getting impact alerts for your papers was pretty simple to set up, but what about tracking real-time citations, downloads, and social media activity for your other research outputs?

There are so many types of outputs to track–datasets, software, slide decks, and more. Plus, there seems to be dozens of websites for hosting them! How can you easily keep track of your diverse impacts, as they happen?

Don’t worry–it’s literally our job to stay on top of this stuff! Below, we’ve compiled the very best services that send impact alerts for your research data, software, slide decks, conference posters, technical reports, and white papers.

Research data

Specific data repositories gather and display metrics on use. Here, we go into details on metrics offered by GitHub, Figshare, and Dryad, and then talk about how you can track citations via the Data Citation Index.


If you use the collaborative coding website GitHub to store and work with research data, you can enable email alerts for certain types of activities. That way, you’re notified any time someone comments on your data or wants to modify it using a “pull request.”

To enable notifications, log into GitHub and click the “Account Settings” icon in the upper right-hand corner. Then, go to “Notification center” on the left-hand navigation bar. Under “Watching,” make sure the “Email” box is ticked.

Other GitHub metrics are also useful researchers: “stars” tell you if others have bookmarked your repository and “forks”–a precursor to a pull request–indicate if others have adapted some of your code for their own uses. Impactstory notification emails (covered in more detail below) include both of these metrics.

GitHub, Dryad and Figshare metrics via Impactstory

Dryad data repository and Figshare both display download information on their web sites, but they don’t send notification emails when new downloads happen. And GitHub tracks stars and forks, but doesn’t include them in their alert emails. Luckily, Impactstory alerts notify you when your data stored on these sites receives the following types of new metrics:












stars (bookmarks)


forks (adaptations)


Types of data metrics reported by Impactstory

To set up alerts, create an Impactstory profile and connect your profile to ORCID, Figshare, and GitHub using the “Import from accounts” button. (If you already have an Impactstory profile, this button will appear as a “Connect more accounts” button instead.) This will allow you to auto-import many of your datasets. If any of your datasets are missing, you can add them one by one by clicking the “Import individual products” icon and providing links and DOIs. Once your profile is set up, you’ll start to receive a notification email once every 1-2 weeks.

Data Citation Index

If you’ve deposited your data into a repository that assigns a DOI, the Data Citation Index (DCI) is often the best way to learn if your dataset has been cited in the literature.

To create an alert, you’ll need a subscription to the service, so check with your institution to see if you have access. If you do, you can set up an alert by first creating a personal registration with the Data Citation Index; click the “Sign In” button at the top right of the screen, then select “Register”. (If you’re already registered with Web of Knowledge to get citation alerts for your articles, there’s no need to set up a separate registration.)

Then, set your preferred database to the Data Citation Index by clicking the orange arrow next to “All Databases” to the right of “Search” in the top-left corner. You’ll get a drop-down list of databases; select “Data Citation Index.”

Now you’re ready to create an alert. On the Basic Search screen, search for your dataset by its title. Click on the appropriate title to get to the dataset’s item record. In the upper right hand corner of the record, you’ll find the Citation Network box. Click “Create citation alert.” Let the Data Citation Index know your preferred email address, then save your alert.


The same GitHub metrics you can track for data can be used to track software impact, too. To receive alerts about comments on your code and pull requests, follow the notification sign-up instructions outlined under Research Data > GitHub, above. To receive alerts when your software gets stars or forks, sign up for Impactstory alerts according to the instructions under Research Data > GitHub, Dryad, and Figshare.

Impactstory and others are working on ways to track software impact better–stay tuned!

Technical reports, working papers, conference slides & posters

Slideshare sends alerts for metrics your slide decks and posters receive. Impactstory includes some of these metrics from Slideshare in our alert emails.  Impactstory alerts also include metrics for technical reports, working papers, conference slides, and posters hosted on Figshare.

Poster session
Now you get you metrics by watching. But what about later?


Though Slideshare is best known for allowing users to view and share slide decks, some researchers also use it to share conference posters. The platform sends users detailed weekly alert emails about new metrics their slide decks and posters have received, including the number of total views, downloads, comments, favorites, tweets, and Facebook likes.

To receive notification emails, go to Slideshare.net and click the profile icon in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Then, click “Email” in the left-hand navigation bar, and check the “With the statistics of my content” box to start receiving your weekly notification emails.

Figshare and Slideshare metrics via Impactstory

You can use Impactstory to receive notifications for downloads, shares, and views for anything you’ve uploaded to Figshare, and for the downloads, comments, favorites, and views for slide decks and posters uploaded to Slideshare.

First, create an Impactstory profile and connect your profile to Figshare and Slideshare using the “Import from accounts” button. (If you already have an Impactstory profile, this button will appear as a “Connect more accounts” button instead.) For both services, click the appropriate button, then provide your profile URL when prompted. Your content will then auto-import.

If any Figshare or Slideshare uploads are missing–which might be the case your collaborators have uploaded content on your behalf–you can add them one by one by clicking the “Import individual products” icon and providing the Figshare DOIs and Slideshare URLs. Once your profile is set up, you’ll start to receive a notification email once every one to two weeks.


Vimeo and Youtube both provide a solid suite of statistics for videos hosted on their sites, and you can use those metrics to track the impact of your video research outputs. To get alerts for these metrics, though, you’ll need to sign up for Impactstory alerts.

Vimeo and Youtube metrics via Impactstory

Vimeo tracks likes, comments, and plays for videos hosted on their platform; Youtube reports the same, plus dislikes and favorites. To get metrics notifications for your videos hosted on either of these sites, you’ll need to add links to your videos to your Impactstory profile.

Once you’ve signed up for an Impactstory profile, click the “Import products one-by-one” button on your Impactstory profile page. There, add URLs for each of the  videos and click “Import”. Once imported to your profile, you’ll start to receive notifications for new video metrics once every one to two weeks.

Are we missing anything? We’ve managed to cover the most popular platforms in this post, but ImpactStory would love to get your tips on niche data repositories, video platforms, and coding sites that keep you up to date on your impact by sending alerts.

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Stacy Konkiel

Stacy Konkiel is the director of marketing and research at Impactstory. Previously, she was science data managemenlLibrarian at Indiana University-Bloomington.In no particular order, she is interested in altmetrics, research data management, scholarly communication, fermented foods, homebrewed beers, country music, feminist & queer communities, and self-sufficiency.

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