How does a researcher gauge the impact of his/her research? How do administrators objectively evaluate the performance of a researcher? While both questions are difficult to answer, below are numeric measures that can provide a rough snapshot of impact.
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The number of citations to articles and books provides a measurable indicator of research impact, suggesting how much their work is being used to advance the research of others.
Be aware: raw citation counts will vary depending on the data source, and it is hard to compare researchers in different fields and at different career stages. Citation counts can be found in:
- Web of Knowledge: A large interdisciplinary citation database.
- For tips on getting citation counts, such as removing self-citations, see Citation Research LibGuide: Web of Science.
- Be aware: Web of Knowledge only repots the impact of items indexed in their database.
- Scopus: Works like Web of Science. It searches a slightly different group of citations and will provide another sense of impact.
- Google Scholar: This free database counts citations from both scholarly and non-scholarly sources.
- For tips on finding citations in it, see Citation Research LibGuide: Google Scholar.
- Some subject-specific databases now include citation counts, including SciFinder Scholar for chemistry and MathSciNet for mathematics. Check with your subject librarian to find similar databases in your field.
Article download count
Some platforms provide download counts for indiidual publications. Examples of platforms that provide download counts include the University’s Digital Conservancy (via an item's Stats Display), and Public Library of Science (in an article's Metrics tab).
h-index measures productivity as well as impact by counting how many of an author’s papers have been cited how many times. For example: to have an h-index of 5, five of a scholar’s publications must have been cited by others at least five times each.
While more sophisticated than plain citation counts, the h-index shares the limitations of incomparability across fields and across career stages. An individual’s h-index may be found in:
- Web of Knowledge, by generating a Citation Report for a specified author.
- Scopus, by searching for an author's name or clicking on a linked author name anywhere in the database, as described in this tip sheet.
- Google Scholar, after installing a tool such as the Google Scholar Universal Gadget, Publish or Perish software.
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