What is Cobaltmetrics?

Last updated on October 06, 2019

Cobaltmetrics crawls the web to index hyperlinks and persistent identifiers as first-class citations. We analyze a wide range of websites to reveal insightful links between documents.

Cobaltmetrics goes deeper than backlink databases and altmetrics aggregators to help you report on all types of content: publications, books, clinical trials, patents, software artifacts, derivative works, etc. The web is our corpus, and our URI transmutation API collates citations to all known versions of a document.

Mission Statement

With Cobaltmetrics, Thunken is on a mission to make altmetrics genuinely alternative. Traditional citation indices have stringent inclusion criteria and focus on privileged publication venues. Altmetrics were designed to overcome some of these limitations, but aggregators still rely on predefined lists of citable research outputs and acceptable identifiers. We argue that the only way forward is to embrace web-scale citation tracking. In order to monitor all web resources, Cobaltmetrics crawls the web to index hyperlinks and persistent identifiers as first-class citations.

Because we monitor all kinds of web resources, we collect data from and about underrepresented communities in the scholarly web: creators who publish in languages other than English, creators who cannot assign persistent identifiers to their works, creators who use new, non-standard, or less popular publication formats, etc. We are interested in low-frequency phenomena, and in distinguishing sampling zeros from structural zeros. In other words, we root for the underdogs.

Promoting diversity through technology is one of Thunken's core principles, and we have signed both the Helsinki Initiative on Multilingualism in Scholarly Communication and the Joint Statement of Principles of the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications.

Web-Scale Citation Tracking

How Does Cobaltmetrics Compare to Citation Indices?

Citation indices like OpenCitations, Scopus, or Web of Science focus on citations between traditional scholarly publications. Our approach is both complementary and much broader. In Cobaltmetrics, we track citations between all types of content on the web, not only publications. We think that it is not up to citation aggregators to define what is citable, so we have no selection criteria based on a document's format, language, publication venue, persistent identifiers, etc.

How Does Cobaltmetrics Compare to Altmetrics Aggregators?

Altmetrics aggregators like Altmetric, Crossref Event Data, or Plum Analytics are quite similar to Cobaltmetrics. However, we think that they are not alt- enough as, for many data sources, they focus on data published in a handful of languages and/or have restrictive selection criteria regarding the documents they index. Our goal is to go deeper: the web is our corpus, and we index all citations, no matter the language, the format, or the identifier. We also think that our URI transmutation API surpasses their search engines when it comes to aggregating or deduplicating results.

How Does Cobaltmetrics Compare to Backlink Databases?

On the web, backlinks and citations are similar objects. That being said, backlink databases also lack our URI transmutation API, i.e. the ability to collate backlinks to all known versions of a document. With Cobaltmetrics, you can not only discover that a given page links to your content, but also all the short URLs and other identifiers that directly or indirectly identify your content.

Getting Started

Login or register to dig into our data, or see Searching on Cobaltmetrics to learn more about our search engine.

To interact with Cobaltmetrics programmatically from your own application, see the API documentation.

To know where we stand in the altmetrics movement, and what we want to push for, check out our latest stories on Medium and the complete list of blog posts, slide decks, and posters written about Cobaltmetrics.