Research Metrics: an introduction

Research metrics aim to quantify and monitor the importance of published research and can be divided into the following:

  • Citation metrics (bibliometrics) score the number of times other researchers refer to (cite) a given publication and can be a useful measure of the level of attention within scholarly publishing. They can be generated on article, author, publication or institutional level. 
  • Alternative metrics ("altmetrics") summarise the level of attention received in social media and other platforms, offering useful information about impact outside of scholarly publishing, and also serving as early indicators of possible intentions to cite a publication.

Citation metrics can be obtained from three sources - Web of ScienceScopus and Google Scholar, whilst altmetrics services include Plum (embedded within Scopus and EBSCO databases) and Altmetric.com.  The publications analysed are usually, but not exclusively, journal articles.  

The need to measure research performance is largely driven by the necessity to make funding decisions, but citation metrics are also used in some university ranking methodologies and may be used when benchmarking institutions.   There are limitations to research metrics and consequently there is a wide range of discussion and activity in the area of responsible metrics to ensure that measures are used responsibly and that stakeholders experience a level playing field. 

Individual researchers might use metrics:

Further help

Library Services' Research Skills Team offers online training on research metrics via our Influential Researcher Canvas Course

For one-to-one appointments and bespoke workshops, contact the Research Skills Team in Library Services.

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