In this study, we investigated the impact of scientific publications of the Italian SIMPAR (Study In Multidisciplinary PAin Research) group by using altmetrics, defined as nontraditional metrics constituting an alternative to more traditional citation-impact metrics, such as impact factor and H-index. By correlating traditional and alternative metrics, we attempted to verify whether publications by the SIMPAR group collectively had more impact than those performed by its individual members, either in solo publications or in publications coauthored by non-SIMPAR group investigators (which for the purpose of this study we will refer to as “individual publications”). For all the 12 members of the group analyzed (pain therapists, biologists, and pharmacologists), we created Open Researcher and Contributor ID and Impact Story accounts, and synchronized these data. Manually, we calculated the level metrics for each article by dividing the data obtained from the research community by those obtained from the public community. We analyzed 759 articles, 18 of which were published by the SIMPAR group. Altmetrics demonstrated that SIMPAR group publications were more likely to be saved (77.8% vs 45.9%), discussed (61.1% vs 1.1%, P<0.0001), and publicly viewed (11.1% vs 1.3%, P=0.05) than individual publications. These results support the importance of multidisciplinary research groups in the impact of scientific literature; the interaction and synergy among the research participants allowed the obtainment of high impact-literature in the field of personalized pain medicine. Finally, our findings demonstrate the potential of altmetrics in estimating the value of the research products of a group.
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