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Measuring Research Impact: Citation Impact


Bibliometrics is the quantitative analysis of scholarly publications, such as books and articles. Citation analysis is a commonly used bibliometric method. It measures the research impact or influence of an individual researcher, or research group. It should be noted that citation patterns vary from discipline to discipline and therefore metrics may not be the only measure to be used to assess impact.

Author Impact

Author impact can be measured in a number of different ways:

- the number of publications written by the author

- the number of citations to each of the author's publications

- the author's H-Index is an author-level metric that measures both the productivity and citation impact of the publications of researcher. It is based on the set of the researcher's most cited papers and the number of citations that these papers have received in other publications

This data can be sources from the following citation databases and from Google Scholar:

Locate the article then select the Times cited or Cited by link. Please note the citation rate may vary in each tool due variations in coverage.


No citation tool will provide a complete citation count. Variations occur because citation tools have different source materials, date ranges and sometimes erroneous records.

See below an example of distribution of citations of a book
 in Bar-Ilan, J. (2010) Citations to the “Introduction to informetrics” indexed by WOS, Scopus and Google Scholar. Scientometrics, 82(3), p.504.

Distribution of citation between Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar

Note also that citation counts are not comparable across disciplines. For example, citation counts in Social Sciences and Humanities are lower because researchers are more often publishing in books and conference papers that are not well covered by citation databases.

Courtesy of University of Melbourne Library

Article Level Impact

An article's impact can be measured by the number of times it has been cited. Citation counts for articles can be identified by using the Scopus and Web of Science citation indexes, and other tools as below:

Scholarly Impact:

Alternative or Societal Impact - this will include other impacts of a work, such as the number of downloads, or mentions in social media:

  • CDU eSpace
  • See more details in the Altmetrics tab above

Training Tutorials

Journal Impact

Impact factors of journals help identify relevant journals and their relative influence in the field. Two common measures of journal quality and ranking are:
  • Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is used to measure and compare the influence of journals and are published in the Journal Citation Reports database. We no longer have access to this database but you can obtain the JIF for a particular journal from its web site.
  • SCImago Journal Ranking (SJR) is is a journal metric based on the Scopus database which measures the scientific influence of scholarly journals that accounts for both the number of citations received by a journal, and the importance or prestige of the journals where such citations appear.

Journal Impact and Ranking

Publish strategically! The following tools will help you discover the ranking of journals in different fields. They will help researchers - Higher Degree Research Students and Early Career Researchers in particular - discover which journals to publish in.

Further Readings

  • Maximizing the impacts of your research: a handbook for social scientists                                                                        This Handbook, by the London School of Economics Public Policy Group, is a guide to help researchers achieve a more professional and focused approach to their research. It provides a large menu of sound, evidence-based advice and guidance on how to ensure that your work achieves its maximum visibility and influence with both academic and external audiences.
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