Skip to main content
Banner Image

Research Impact: Home

Guide Contents

About research impact
Why do you need impact?
Show your research impact
Limitations of measuring impact

Measure your impact
Journal metrics
Article metrics
Author metrics

Institutional ranking


Visualisation Tools


Emerging Metrics

Enhance your impact
Managing your identity
Connecting with the research community
New forms of scholarly publishing



Or browse a topic:


Why measure research?

Research impact is often measured using popular quantitative tools such as citation counts, the h-index and journal impact factors. 

  • Measuring the value or impact of research is increasingly important particularly if the research has been funded with public money.
  • Research institutions are able to identify the research strengths as well as the areas for improvement through quantitative analysis of research.
  • When competing for funding and career opportunities, researchers may need to produce evidence of their research impact.

This guide brings together resources commonly used to measure scholarly impact using both traditional metrics, such as journal impact factor and h-index, and alternative metrics (Altmetrics)

Most of the  resources covered here focus on citation analysis, a quantifiable measure of academic output and research impact. The quantitative results obtained can help you in making informed decisions on the following:

  • Prepare your dossier for promotion and tenure appointments, performance appraisal and grant applications.
  • Find out if your research has been further developed through identifying researchers who have cited your works
  • Identify potential collaborators
  • Publish your next research in high impact sources for increased research visibility.

Demonstrate impact via Citation Analysis

Citation analysis is a quantitative method whereby important and essential literature of a field can be identified on the basis of how often a publication is cited in other publications. However, there are limitations in using citations as an indicator for measuring research impact (see Limitations tab)

Citation Metrics (often referred to as Bibliometrics) serve as an indication of the interest in and importance of research publications within the scholarly community:

  1. Article-level metrics
  2. Author-level metrics
  3. Journal-level metrics

More on the above metrics will be covered in the next section under MeasureImpact .

Limitations of citation counts 

  • Citations tend to measure popularity rather than quality
    • Individual citations are always a researcher's subjective choice, which can be affected by many factors other than the quality of the article.
    • Citations of an article reveal the positive or negative attention it has received rather than indicate its quality.
  • Citation counts favour mainstream research and established paradigms
    • While research that challenges prevailing thought is not necessarily noticed straight away. Indeed, many important scientific breakthroughs have not been noticed until decades after their publication. Meanwhile some research results giving rise to criticism, or even proven to be wrong, may receive a great number of citations.
  • The contents of different databases concentrate on different things: journals, books, conference proceedings and other literature. 
    • Databases normally contain citation information only on the journals they carry. The number of citations is also dependent on how long a time span for citations is covered by the database, and how often the citation information is up-dated in the database.
    • Citation information of all databases also contains some errors; citations might be missing or they might have been registered twice. The contents of all databases also changes continuously; database service providers include new journals in their collection and remove ones they have previously held, while they may up-date citation information also from older publications.
  • Different disciplines have different citing behavior and patterns.
    Hence the retrieved data needs to be normalized or adjusted to take into account differences between disciplines.
  • Different citation databases produce different figures which should be used with caution, especially when comparing across disciplines.
Loading ...

Key Terms

Bibliometrics is the use of quantitative tools to study publications and other written materials.

Citation metrics focus on the statistical patterns and measurements of citations.

Citation analysis can be used as a quantifiable measure of academic output and research impact, which can help in making informed decisions on publication, promotion, and tenure.

Altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analysing, and informing scholarship.