Research Impact

Traditionally, scholarly metrics based on the number of times an author's article has been cited by other researchers, also known as citation analysis, have been used to measure scholarly impact. Journal impact factor has been used in many fields as a proxy for journal quality. As more and more methods are adopted to disseminate scholarly information, traditional metrics are no longer sufficient to provide the complete picture of an article’s or an author’s scholarly impact. There have been alternative or complementary metrics, often referred to as altmetrics, emerging in this constantly changing research environment. These new metrics are utilized in combination with the traditional ones to evaluate scholarly impact more comprehensively. 

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Main sources for citation analysis: Web of ScienceScopus, and Google Scholar
Main tools for tracking altmetrics: Plum Analytics (Plum X)Altmetric (, and ImpactStory

Traditional Citation Analysis / Bibliographic Metrics (Including Journal Impact Factor)

Traditional metrics are based on counting citations. With the article serving as a representation of the research, more citations indicate that the author has had more influence on subsequent research. Various measures such as the H(irsch) Index have been created to quantify impact. You may determine your h-index in Web of Science (including Science Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Arts and Humanities Citation Index), Scopus and Google Scholar by searching on your name and the various forms you may have used. Please note that the values will vary due to the number of journals indexed in each of the databases and, in the case of Web of Science, the length of the University Libraries’ subscription. If you want to start with a certain article and find out who is citing, you may choose “Cited Reference Search” by clicking the tab above the search box in Web of Science. A cited reference search will also indicate where your articles are being cited and the impact of individual publications.

Citation counts also serve as a measure of a journal’s quality. If articles in a particular journal title have been heavily cited, then the journal’s impact is considered to be high. Web of Science provides a separate tool, InCites Journal Citation Reports, also called JCR, which gives Journal Impact Factor (JIF) for the journal titles included in the database and the Eigenfactor score for the journals. Scopus offers separate metrics sources, CiteScore metrics for serials, SJR (SCImago Journal Rank), and SNIP (Souce Normalized Impact per Publication) to report on journal citation analysis.

Altmetrics (Alternative / Complementary Metrics)

While traditional metrics depend on the length of time since publication, altmetrics—short for alternative metrics—may be used to measure the immediate impact of born-digital scholarship by counting the number of bookmarks, views, or downloads of each article. Altmetrics tools also track evidence in scholarly blog posts, mentions in research oriented web services, and social media activity such as tweets or “likes” by researchers. Altmetrics can track how publications perform and monitor research influence for funding purposes.

Increase Your Research's Visibility and Impact Guide

PLOS ALMs: A Comprehensive Assessment of Impact with Article-Level Metrics

Scholarly networking tools

Similar to popular social media, commercial scholarly social networking tools, such as Academia.eduResearchGate, and Mendeley, can expand the reach of researchers’ scholarship. On these sites, researchers can easily develop profile pages with lists of publications, background statements, and descriptions of research interests; they can follow other researchers and receive updates on new publications; in addition, profile views and article citation/downloads are measured and visualized to show the researcher’s increasing scholarly impact over time.

Although scholarly networking tools appeal to the scholarly culture of sharing and collaboration, the Libraries urge caution, especially when researchers upload full text articles onto these for-profit sites, as this may come into conflict with publisher agreements.

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How the Libraries can help

Rutgers librarians are ready to help you:

  • Conduct a cited reference search for your publications
  • Investigate various measures of your scholarly impact
  • Identify the high quality journals in your field
  • Provide consultation on various aspects of your research process.

Questions about research impact or scholarly metrics? Email

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