The process of submitting scholarly articles, having work peer-reviewed, and making endless revisions has long been the norm. But for research faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students alike, new methods for researching, filtering, discussing, and even publishing articles is starting to catch on.

Bibliometrics, or the process of measuring scholarly impact, is a process you may have heard of. But the term altmetrics (or cybermetrics, or webometrics), tools for measuring both traditional impact metrics as well as web-based ones, is becoming increasingly important in our digital world. In fact, as universities push to differentiate themselves from online-only educations, university libraries are becoming the go-to sources for tracking, learning from, and finding sources other than through simple filtering methods or citation factors.

Many feel that every scholarly article can be found online these days, and that they therefore don’t need any help. The fact is, however, that school libraries still have access to private databases and subscription-based tools that do much more than filter. There’s a difference between simply finding an article and being able to measure the impact of an article. Altmetrics finds what is creating the impact by meta tagging and tracking everything from datasets and self-published papers to experimental designs and arguments.

So are peer-reviewed publications necessary? While they are still the norm, altmetrics is currently tackling—and tracking—newcomers ready to be used by scholars. Steven B. Roberts, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, chose to search out evidence of his research’s impact online. He counted page views, tweets, downloads, presentation views, and more using social media, analytics, and embedded data sets. This use of altmetrics is gaining ground, but for those without the time or energy to invest in self-tracking, software is available to make understanding impact easy. Various companies such as Plum and Altmetric make monitoring personal articles and discovering others easier and smarter than ever before.

Whether a research student or higher ed faculty member, learning and understand these new web metrics is essential.  For anyone looking to track an existing article or research for one soon to be published, your school library may have just the tools you’re after.