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Measuring Your Research Impact

Research impact describes the demonstrable contribution that research makes to academia and society. Impact is a complicated landscape, but it begins with you: your research, your relationships, and your outcomes.

WHAT does impact assess?

  • How many scholars have continued the conversation by citing your articles? Who is citing your articles?
  • What kinds of outcomes has your research led to? Have people built better protocols, instrumentation, or practice based on your work?
  • Who is noticing you? Have you given presentations to the government? To your local community?
  • What kind of impact have you had on your advisees? What impact has your advisor had on you?

WHY measure or track research impact?

  • Strengthen your case when you apply for promotion or tenure
  • Quantify return on research investment for grant renewals and progress reports
  • Strengthen future funding requests by showing value of your research 
  • Identify who is using your work and confirm that it is appropriately credited
  • Identify collaborators within or outside of your subject area

While there are many reasons to measure research impact, there is no universal agreement on how to do so. Existing metrics become less relevant as methods of scholarly communication expand beyond the traditional journal article. New metrics are being developed in attempts to improve upon existing measures.

This guide covers some of the more common measures of author and journal impact - what they are and how to find them. It also covers new metrics that go beyond published journal articles. Finally, it gives tips on how to broaden the impact of your research. 

Modified from and

  • Each measure and tool has advantages and disadvantages
  • Citations take time to accrue
  • Citation comparisons are only meaningful if comparing similar things -- researchers in the same field of research at similar career stages
  • The raw counts of citations and analyses depend on database content:
    • No database lists ALL publications. Even the 3 main sources (Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar) vary substantially in content.
    • Journals are the predominant publication type in databases. Inclusion of other publications (e.g. books, book chapters, conference papers and theses) is currently improving.
    • Journal coverage in Scopus is more comprehensive than Web of Science for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    • In Scopus, citation data only extends back to 1996 for all disciplines, so will undervalue impact of long-standing researchers.
  • Bibliometrics are BEST SUITED to the Health and Physical Science disciplines. These disciplines are dominated by international, peer-reviewed journals published in English.
  • Bibliometrics are LESS SUITED to Social Sciences and Humanities research. These often publish in books and conference proceedings and are less likely to be included by the major sources. Any 'cited by' numbers in these disciplines are likely to be lower because readership is more limited, there are fewer researchers in these disciplines, and research often has a local focus and may be published in a local (non-English) language

Modified from

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

Citation metrics statistical patterns and measurements of citations

Citation analysis quantifiable measure of academic output and research impact, which can help inform decisions on publication, promotion, and tenure

Altmetrics creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing and informing scholarship

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