We’ve recently become slightly obsessed with rainbows… and doughnuts… and more specifically rainbow coloured doughnuts.  We’ve always been firm believers in Doughnut Friday (doughnuts of the jam variety from the fabulous local bakery) but this is a whole lot more serious.  We’re talking the rainbow-coloured Altmetric doughnuts that are used to provide a visual representation of the volume and type of attention that a publication receives.

When one of our papers recently attracted some press attention we set ourselves a challenge to see how long it would take to obtain a fully-rainbow coloured doughnut with an Altmetric score of 100…

And that’s where the fun began… we didn’t truly understand how the score is calculated or how to achieve a full rainbow effect.  While some of our papers have managed to do this all by themselves…


others are decidedly non-rainbow in nature…


So we started with some tweeting… which generated some conversation, a fair number of retweets and a gently rising score but the doughnut was all blue. The press attention gave us some red and the score crept up slightly but we were still far from rainbow utopia.

How to get some more colours on our doughnut? The Altmetric help pages took a bit of a hammering at this point – descriptions of the activity related to different colours on the doughnut  being particularly useful. We wrote a blog and recorded a podcast.

At 12 weeks after publication we have a blue and red doughnut with a score of 66 – two thirds of the way to the target 100 but still a way to go for a rainbow.


How does this compare with other papers? Has our focus on trying to promote the messages from this paper made a difference to the score? It’s hard to tell but another of our papers published at a similar time which hasn’t been subject to such focused activity e.g. always including the DOI number in the tweet and which also hasn’t received any press attention has only amassed a score of 11.


So what have we learnt? We noticed that some news stories weren’t picked up by Altmetric while others that appeared to have similar content were… we set our comms teams onto trying to understand why this might be!  We discovered that our blog wasn’t being picked up by Altmetric – we emailed the super-responsive curation team and understand that it is now being monitored.  We also realised the importance of including the DOI number in all tweets however clumsy it might look; no DOI number = no effect on the Altmetric score. We realised that retweets weren’t quite as useful as original tweets from unique tweeters… reach also seems to be important, with activity from people with lots of followers, making a bigger impact. And we found out that podcasts aren’t currently supported as an ‘attention source’ by Altmetric but they do provide another vehicle for spreading the word.

Our search for a pocketful of rainbow (coloured doughnut)s continues… wish us luck!

‘I don’t worry
Whenever skies are grey above
Got a pocketful of rainbows
Got a heart full of love…’

Elvis Presley

Nunns M, Mayhew D, Ford T, Rogers M, Curle C, Logan S, Moore D. Effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions to reduce procedural anxiety in children and adolescents undergoing treatment for cancer:  A systematic review and meta-analysis. Pyscho-oncology. 2018 Apr 30. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.4749

Lourida I, Soni M, Thompson Coon J, Purandare N, Lang IA, Ukoumunne OC, Llewellyn DJ. Mediterranean diet, congnitive function and dementia: a systematic review.  Epidemiology. 2013 Jul 24(4): 479-89 https://doi.org/10.1097/EDE.0b013e3182944410

Kuźma E, Hannon E, Zhou A, Lourida I, Bethel A, Levine DA, Lunnon K, Thompson-Coon J, Hyppönen E, Llewellyn DJ. Which Risk Factors Causally Influence Dementia? A Systematic Review of Mendelian Randomization Studies. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;64(1):181-193. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-180013.

Martin AE, Newlove-Delgado TV, Abbott RA, Bethel A, Thompson-Coon J, Whear R, Logan S. Pharmacological interventions for recurrent abdominal pain in childhood. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD010973. https://doi.org/ 10.1002/14651858.CD010973.pub2.