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