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Getting Started: Scholarly Communication

Impact Factors and Citation Analysis

See the following guides for more information:

Impact Factors

Research impact is the demonstrable contribution that research makes to academia and society. Currently, there are many ways to measure and no  single standard. Furthermore, as new metrics are developed, existing metrics may become less relevant. 

Why measure or track research impact?

  • Strengthen your case when you apply for employment, promotion or tenure
  • Quantify return on research investment for grant renewals and progress reports
  • Strengthen future funding requests by showing value of your research 
  • Discover who is using your work and how

Get Started Tracking Your Impact

See the Measuring Research Impact Guide for more information.

Citation Analysis

Citation counts measure the impact of a particular publication or an individual author by counting the number of times either has been cited in other works. This analysis of a particular author's work is one of the components used to evaluate the quality of that's individual's scholarly output and the impact he or she is having upon a particular discipline. Although such counting sounds relatively straightforward, it is complicated by the fact that there is no single citation analysis source that covers all publications and their cited references.

Citation analysis can be measure in a number of ways:   

  • Citation count -- The total number of times an author's work has been cited
  • Average citation rate -- the ratio of total citations to the number of works authored
  • H-Index -- A researcher's h-index, or Hirsch index, is determined by listing their publications in descending order of times cited and counting down the list to the last paper for which the number of times cited exceeds the number of papers counted. Rather than a measure of the average number of citations, which can be skewed by either a single highly-cited article or by new articles which have not yet been cited, the h-index  believed to provide a measurement that avoids over-emphasizing these extreme cases. Citation analysis as a qualitative measurement should be used cautiously, for the following reasons: Citation rates and practices vary widely between disciplines. 

Citation analysis of scholars in one field should not be compared to those in another. Where a scholar publishes can have a great impact on the analysis if the tools used to count citations do not index the publications where a scholarly work is cited. This is particularly true for those that publish in international journals, smaller regional or local publications, or in non-journal sources such as books. Citation rates can be influenced by other practices such as self-citation. 

See the Citation Analysis and Journal Impact Factor Guide for more information.