Explore some of the most commonly-accepted measures currently used:

You’ll find tips on how to find and calculate these measures, guidance on the strengths and weaknesses of the data, a context for using the
tools, and an understanding of what the numbers actually report.

The favored trend employs measures based on citations because they are relatively easy-to-gather, objective data that may indicate a publication's contribution to further research. Deeper investigation reveals complexities in how these measures are calculated and the difficulties of comparing across disciplines that have different research and publication practices.

The ramifications of research may be diverse, wide-ranging, and long-term, and therefore intrinsically hard to measure. The current, competing measures of research impact highlighted in these pages are understandably imperfect. Care should be taken in understanding their merits and limitations.

Further reading

Science Metrics, a Nature News special issue (6/16/10) discussing various individual productivity measures.

"Why the Impact Factor of Journals Should not be Used for Evaluating Research" by P. O. Seglen (1997) in the British Medical Journal.

"Comparisons of Citations in Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar for Articles Published in General Medical Journals" by Kulkarni, Abhaya V.; Aziz, Brittany; Shams, Iffat; Busse, Jason W. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 9/9/2009, Vol. 302 Issue 10, p1092-1096.

Contact your subject specialist

For questions and further information, contact your subject librarian.

Consult our handout for more information.