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Assessing Impact: Metrics, Altmetrics and Impact Factors

This guide highlights important metrics used to measure journal impact, author impact and article impact.

What are Metrics and Altmetrics?



Metrics in Academia refers to the measurement of impact using Bibliometrics and Altmetrics.  These measures are increasingly used when academics apply for promotion, tenure or grants.  


Bibliometrics is the 
analysis of written publications and is used to provide a “quantitative analysis of academic literature.” (Wikipedia).  The most commonly used bibliometric is citation analysis; the data for which is often available via databases or Google Scholar


Journal Level Metrics 

Journal Level Metrics  is a measure reflecting the yearly average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal.
 More sophisticated measures assess journal impact by enabling fair comparisons in fields using more and less citations as measured by what is typical for a field of research.


Article Level Metrics 

Article Level Metrics measure the impact of a specific article based upon citation analysis.  Each article can be assessed for its Relative Citation Ratio (a field normalized metric that shows the influence of one or more articles in relation to the average paper in a discipline.)


Author Level Indexes of Influence or Author Level Metrics 

Author Level Metrics is the measurement of a scholar’s impact by assessing the quality and quantity of publications.  The most common is the H-Index and there are many variations of this measure.



is the measurement of a scholar’s impact by measuring the dissemination of the research over social media sites.  Common measures include views, downloads, shares, recommendations, comments.


San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

Created in 2012, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment calls for the elimination of the Journal Impact  Factor as the method used to measure the quality of research.  Furthermore it indicated that there is a need to:

  1. Measure more than the publication and include other research outputs such as datasets, etc.
  2. Use a wider range of measures of the quality of research.

For more information check out DORA for its recommendations for researchers, funders, institutions, etc. 

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Carmen Kazakoff-Lane
Carmen Kazakoff -Lane, Scholarly Communications Librarian
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