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Research Impact Guide: Overview of Research Metrics

Use this guide to find information about: Overview of Research Metrics; Journal Impact Factor; Author Impact (h-index); Researcher Profile & Alternative Metrics

The Purpose of this Guide

This guide presents tools that are available to measure the quantitative and qualitative impact of research; as well as how to track researcher impact.


Potentially, any database with citations could create bibliometric measures. Each database that offers bibliometric measures primarily uses its own unique data, journals, authority files, indexes, and subject categories.

There is currently no overarching tool across databases.

Second caveat: bibliometric measures should not be used to compare across disciplines. Research and citation behaviour differs in different fields. 

How do I Learn More about Research Impact?

Contact your Faculty Librarian for assistance with:

  • assessing your research impact
  • using and comparing results from databases such as Scopus and Google Scholar
  • identifying highly ranked journals in your field

Guide credit

This guide is based on the "Measuring Your Research Impact" guide created by Karen Cook at the University of the Western Cape. It has been reused with permission.

Any errors and omissions should not be attributed to the University of the Western Cape.

Last updated: 31 October 2014 by Lara Skelly.

Why Measure Research Impact?

Quantitative methods such as citation counts, journal impact factors and researcher specific metrics, such as the h-index, provide a means of measuring research impact.

These research metrics can be used:

  • to support grant applications
  • to support applications for tenure or promotion
  • to identify other researchers or insitutions that are using their work
  • to identify other researchers and potential collaborators in their field
  • by a researcher to maintain their own research profile
  • in a Department and for Faculty reviews

Data that is used for measuring research impact includes:

Researcher metrics

  • Number of times a researcher is cited
  • Number of publications

Article Metrics

  • Number of times an article is cited
  • Using Altmetrics, such as page views, downloads and blog post about an article

Journal metrics

  • Number of articles published in a journal each year
  • Number of journals in a subject area
  • Cited half-life of journals

Photo: Metric mania by batega / CC BY