Downloads, software

Downloads, software

Can apply to: Download of program/code files

Metric definition: A simple tally of downloads over a period of time.

Metric calculation:  Not applicable.

Data sources:  Almost any web platform that can host files. The most common and reliable sources are publishers, subject and institutional repositories, researcher profile systems, and altmetrics aggregators.

Appropriate use cases: Software downloads can be used as an indicator for the reuse of programming code. In some cases, it can be a proxy for the number of users (Thelwall & Kousha, 2016).

Limitations: Software is rarely formally cited, though it is often mentioned in publications. One study has found a weak, but statistically significant, correlation between Scopus citations and download counts for Google Code programs (Thelwall & Kousha, 2016). Github and do not report downloads as of March 2017.

Inappropriate use cases: Software downloads are not direct measures of usage, quality, or impact.

Available metric sources:  Google Code, Codeplex, Bitbucket, Launchpad

Transparency:  Varies by source.

Website: Google Code (defunct as of January, 2016), Codeplex, Bitbucket, Launchpad

Timeframe:  Typically immediate, but there may be a reporting delay of a few hours up to a 30 days, depending on the source.


  1. Thelwall, M., & Kousha, K. (2016). Academic Software Downloads from Google Code: Useful Usage Indicators?. Information Research: An International Electronic Journal, 21(1), n1.

Posted on

July 24, 2017