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Measuring Research Impact: Metrics Landscape

This guide provides an introduction to the various metrics used to measure research (author, article, journal) impact.

Metrics Toolkit

Metrics Toolkit is a resource for researchers and evaluators that provides guidance for demonstrating and evaluating claims of research impact.  It provides guidance on available metrics, what they mean, how they are calculated, and whether they are a good match for your impact need.

Metrics Toolkit logo

Selected Traditional & Alternative Metrics Compared

Utrecht LIbrary provides a useful comparison of Traditional & Alternative Metric Tools The chart below is used with their permission via a Creative Commons License.

 Chart of traditional and alternative metrics sites

a Only items/persons/users included in the system (depends on data collected/uploaded by the users)
b Paid services: Mendeley Institutional Edition / Altmetric Institutional Edition / Altmetric Explorer
c With restrictions/limitations
d Article level metrics (Mendeley, Altmetric) and author profiles (ImpactStory) free to view

On the Role of Metrics...

From the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management (UK, 2015):

  • There is considerable scepticism among researchers, universities, representative bodies and learned societies about the broader use of metrics in research assessment and management.
  • Peer review, despite its flaws, continues to command widespread support as the primary basis for evaluating research outputs, proposals and individuals. However, a significant minority are enthusiastic about greater use of metrics, provided appropriate care is taken.
  • Carefully selected indicators can complement decision-making, but a ‘variable geometry’ of expert judgment, quantitative indicators and qualitative measures that respect research diversity will be required.
  • There is legitimate concern that some indicators can be misused or ‘gamed’: journal impact factors, university rankings and citation counts being three prominent examples.
  • No metric can currently provide a like-for-like replacement for peer review.