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Research Impact Metrics

This section covers the resources to find metrics for journal articles (including preprints) and conference papers.

The "Comparing the Options" chart highlights the key features and differences among the 4 primary tools covered: Web of Science, Google Scholar, Altmetric, and Dimensions.

When using these resources, some things to consider:

  • Citation counts for articles/papers can vary a lot by discipline. Science articles, particularly in the biomedical sciences, are typically cited more than articles in journals from other disciplines. 
  • Review articles, including those in book series like the Annual Reviews, may be cited more heavily than research articles.

Key Features of Web of Science, Google Scholar, Altmetric, and Dimensions.


Feature Web of Science Google Scholar Altmetric Dimensions Lens
Search By Author To Retrieve All (Or At Least Most) of Their Works Yes Works best if author has Scholar Profile No Yes, using the Researcher filter Yes
Get an Article's Times Cited Count and List of Citing Works Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Analyze Citing References by Author, Institution, Country, etc. Yes No No Yes, using the filters No
Funding Agencies and Grants Information Included for Searching/Analysis Yes No No Yes Grant numbers included in records, but any searching/analysis limited to funders.
Cited Reference Searching Yes No No No No
Non-Citation Based Metrics, Including News and Social Media No No Yes Yes No
Metrics for Preprints No Yes Yes Yes (for SSRN and bioRxiv) Yes (for arXiv, bioRxiv, and SSRN)
Set Up Alerts to Stay Notified About Who is Citing/Talking About Your Work Yes Yes Yes Save searches, but no alerting May be able to save search queries based on citing patents.



What Article-Level Metrics Can I Get Out of Web of Science?

​With each article or conference paper indexed in Web of Science, you can get a Times Cited count, the number of times the paper was cited by other works indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection (which includes the Conference Proceedings and Book Citation Indexes). From Times Cited, you can link out to see the citing works..

The Web of Science Core Collection indexes

  • 14,000 journals selected for inclusion in the three main citation indexes: 9,000 science/engineering journals, 3,300 social sciences journals, and 1,800 arts/humanities journals. 
  • Another 7,300 journals from the Emerging Sources Citation Index 
  • More than 197,000 conference proceedings, from the Conference Proceedings Citation Index.
  • More than 94,000 books, through the Book Citation Index.

How Do I Access Web of Science?

Go to to access Web of Science. UC San Diego faculty, staff and students must be on the campus network, the protected WiFi network, or VPN to access.

What Else Can I Do in Web of Science?


You can analyze any set of citing papers to find out more about who cited your work. From Analyze Results, you can generate treemaps, bar graphs, and text-delimited files. The treemap/bar graph visualization allow for up to 25 results, and the text-delimited file allows for up to 500 results.   

  • Document Types - How many times was your article cited in other articles, reviews, proceedings, or book chapters? 
  • Authors / Organizations / Countries - Which authors cited your article, where are they affiliated, or what country are they from? This information might be useful if you are asked about the global reach of your work.
  • ​​​Funding Agencies and Grant Numbers -  These are helpful if you want to see a breakdown of the citing works based on who funded their research.
    • Funding agencies and grant number are also searchable fields in Web of Science. However, the agency names haven't been normalized, so you'll need to include possible variants (EPA OR Environmental Protection Agency).


  • With a Web of Science account, you can create citation alerts to be notified when an article has been cited (one alert per article), or save results as Marked Lists to analyze again at a later date. 

Other Metrics: Web of Science provides some additional, time-sensitive metrics. 

  • Usage Counts - The number of times that users interacted with the Web of Science record for the article beyond viewing the abstract, including linking out to the full text article or saving the reference to EndNote or another reference manager.
  • Highly Cited in Field, denoted with a  - For the time period identified, the article was cited enough to place it in the top 1% of articles for its given field and publication year. This data comes from Essential Science Indicators, which uses 22 broad subject fields. 
  • Hot Papers in Field, denoted with a  - For the two month period identified, this paper, published in the last 2 yeas, was cited enough to place it in the top 0.1% of articles for that field and publication year. This data also comes from ESI.

Cited Reference Searching

The Cited Ref Searching will identify citing works that haven't been counted in the actual Times Cited count. See the WOS Cited Ref Searching tab for more information.

What Else Should I Know About Web of Science?

Coverage of the science/engineering disciplines is the strongest, and weaker in the arts/humanities. Web of Science doesn't index articles until they are assigned to an issue, so in-press, early access or ASAP (as soon as published) articles that cite your article will not be included in this Times Cited count. In 2019, Web of Science will begin indexing early access articles for selected publishers. See the tab: WOS vs Google Scholar for more about differences between the two.

What Article-Level Metrics Can I Get Out of Google Scholar?

Google Scholar will give you a Times Cited count, the number of times the work was cited by other sources found in Google Scholar). The Times Cited count will come up in the regular search results, or when viewing an author's works list in a Google Scholar Profile. If you're on campus or using VPN, you'll also get a link back to the citing works in Web of Science

Google Scholar covers:

  • Scholarly journals, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations, books, preprints, abstracts, patents (which can be excluded or searched separately), technical reports, and other scholarly publications. There's more coverage of sources that are not indexed in Web of Science (like dissertations), as well as non-US materials, new journals, and newly published articles.

What Else Can I Do in Google Scholar?

Google Scholar Profiles

Creating and building your own profile in Google Scholar is a way for other to easily find your works, and for you to view the Times Cited counts in one list. See Author-Level Metrics.


Analysis features in Google Scholar are extremely limited. You can get a breakdown of citing works by year for a particular article, when you select the article within the Profile (not within the regular search results).. . 

There is no bulk export option within the search results screen. However, you can add each reference individually to My Library, by clicking on the star icon, then from My Library mark all references to export for BibTeX or EndNote.


  • To get an alert for citations to all articles, click the blue Follow icon from the Google Scholar Profile and select New Citations to This Author.
  • To set up a citation alert for a single article, use the Create Alert option that comes up when you view the list of citing articles, either from the search results or Scholar Profile. 

What Else Should I Know About Google Scholar:

  • Because Google doesn't provide a firm list of what is covered in Google Scholar, determining what exactly is in Google Scholar (and years covered) can be a mystery. 
  • Citation counts may include duplicate references, or references to sources you don't want to count, like course syllabi or promotional/news items about your works. You cannot filter the lists of citing works by document type.
  • It is difficult to disambiguate author search results unless the author has created a Google Scholar Profile. 
  • See more in the WOS vs Google Scholar tab.

Why Am I Getting Different Citation Counts Between Web of Science and Google Scholar?

This is a common question: why does Web of Science show that an article was cited X times, while Google Scholar shows that the same article was cited Y times?  There are a few reasons why it happens. If you were to export the citing works from Web of Science and Google Scholar for one of your articles and exclude the references that show up in both lists, this what you'll likely observe.

  • Google Scholar covers some types of sources that aren't indexed in Web of Science, like dissertations and theses, as well as some non-peer reviewed sources like syllabi and news. It also covers more books. If the work that cites yours is never indexed in Web of Science, then any references to your work will not get counted.
  • Google Scholar covers recently published journal articles that haven't yet been indexed in Web of Science, which they will index once the articles are assigned to journal issues*. So at least some of the citing works you come across that are unique to Google Scholar will appear in Web of Science in the future.

    *In 2019, Clarivate will begin indexing these early articles for selected publishers, and aggregate the citations for both the early access versions and final published/indexed versions of the articles.
  • In Web of Science, the Times Cited count excludes any cited reference variants retrieved in a Cited Reference Search (see tab), which can be reported and sometimes corrected.  You may also come across duplicates in Google Scholar.

Which numbers should I use?

That depends. Some researchers opt for the higher of the two numbers (often the Google Scholar number), while other include both. Either way, you should include the source--Web of Science and/or Google Scholar--with the number. It's also important to be aware of why these numbers differ, and what is and is not getting counted in each.

What Is Cited Reference Searching, and Why Use It?

Cited Reference Searching is another way to find citing works in Web of Science beyond what shows up in the Times Cited list. Instead of searching for an article and then viewing the cited references from the Times Cited count, you search for any references to your work in the cited reference lists of all the works indexed in Web of Science. For the search, you usually enter an author (first author is recommended) and the year the work was published, along with the title of the publication if the search needs to be narrowed. If the article was published in one year, but added to Web of Science the next, search on years.

What Does the Cited Reference Searching Capture?

You can use the Cited Ref Search to identify

  1. Any cited works that aren't indexed in Web of Science themselves, like theses and dissertations. This also includes any non-indexed books, book chapters, and journals. These cannot be included the Times Cited count.
  2. Cited Reference Variants. These are instances where your paper was cited, but they are not included in the Times Cited count because your reference in those papers couldn't be matched or unified with the "reference of record" in Web of Science as your paper was indexed.

    In the example below, the last two with the linked titles are the official references for these papers, with their Times Cited counts. The three above are variants that could not be matched up.  As you can see, there is some missing bibliographic information, such as page numbers and even a volume number. Since they are not included in the Times Cited count, which means they are not calculated into the Web of Science H-index, nor do they affect the rankings if a user is sorting search results by Times Cited.

Why do these Cited Reference Variants occur?

The authors may have cited the article incorrectly, or they may have cited it when it was "in press" or even already published online, but before it was assigned to a volume/issue, so they cited it using an incomplete citation.. It could also be due to a data entry error; your article was cited correctly in a paper, but an error was made when the paper (and cited references) went into Web of Science.

Can the Cited Reference Variants be corrected?

Sometimes. You can report these errors using the Data Changes Form under the Web of Science Help menu. Select Web of Science Platform as the product group, and Cited Reference as the requested product change. To make it easier, each Web of Science record has a unique accession number to reference in your request (go to "See More Data Fields"). You can reference both the paper(s) with the citation variants, and the correct citation where these variants should be unified with. For example:

In a cited reference search, 2 variants come up for WOS:000399721700010. Can these be unified?
1 - WOS:000427767200045
2 - WOS:000411524400048 

Clarivate Analytics responds to these requests quickly, and any corrections are usually made within a week. Here, the 3 variants were unified, and the Times Cited counts went from 18 and 21, to 19 and 23.

Is It Worth Looking for These Citation Variants to Report Them?

It depends. Identifying and reporting citation variants may be more meaningful for an early career researcher with a smaller and more recent body of publications than a researcher with a more substantial body of work with more citations. But this is a more time-consuming process. This might something to review once a year, or you can reach out to us to run some Cited Reference Searches and send data change requests to Clarivate.

Clarivate Training Videos:

What is Lens and how does it compare with Web of Science and Google Scholar?

Lens is a new discovery system for articles and patents, with an extensive number of search fields and tools for visualizing bibliometric data. Like Web of Science and Google Scholar, you can use it to see times cited counts for your articles, and of course the numbers will vary across the three databases. However, Lens will also identify patents that cite your articles, as well as other articles. You can also use it to search for patent citations as well, and create collections of results for further analysis.


What is the best way to search Lens for patents that cited my articles?

  1. You can search by author using Scholar Search, but there are multiple author fields to choose from (or search by ORCID). The author display name field may yield the best options; otherwise try several and add fields to create an "or" search. This should bring up a page with the author's scholarly works. From here, you can identify which articles were cited by patents sorting the results by patent citations or selecting "Works Cited By Patents" and look at the patent citations for a particular article, or select "Citing Patents" to get the full list.
  2.  Starting at PatCite, you can search by PMIDs or DOIs, then bring up the article record to see the citing patents.


Is there more I can do with Lens?

There are help guides and tutorials, and the PatCite page also has some use cases. 

What Article-Level Metrics Can I Get from Altmetric?

You can get an "Altmetric Attention Score," based on online coverage, attention, and engagement outside of journal and book citations, including news, social media, patents, policy papers, and Wikipedia. The score is weighted so sources like news coverage count more than tweets. The score usually appears as an embedded "donut" or badge, with a link back to with more details about sources covering your work. 

Most publishers will provide the score on the article's homepage, though you may have to look around for it. It's sometimes included under "Metrics" or a similar label.  If you cannot find the Altmetric donut with the score, use the Altmetric Bookmarket.

If you use any browser apps to block ads or tracking cookies (like Privacy Badger), these will often block Altmetric donuts and badges from appearing on publisher websites. If this happens, you can disable the apps for those sites. 

What Else Can I Do in Altmetric?


You can access the Altmetric details page for the article by clicking the donut or badge to learn more about WHO is talking about your work. From here you can see what kind of attention your article has received: the news/media sources that covered your article, who has tweeted or blogged about it, has the article been cited in Wikipedia or any policy papers, etc. You may also get some context for the attention score, how it ranks among all works covered by Altmetric, among outputs similar in age, or even among outputs from the same journal. 


On that details page, click "Alert me about new mentions" to get email notices when Altmetric captures new mentions about your output. These go out as daily digests, so you can set them up for multiple outputs and still get no more than one email per day.

What Else Should I Know About Altmetric?

  • The article must have a DOI or other unique identifier (see full list) in order to be tracked, and it must have at least one mention (even a tweet) to get picked up by Altmetric.
  • When you go to from the article, you may get a more limited view of the attention data. Many publishers have partnered with Altmetric to provide the full view of data, while others have not. We may be able to assist you with these to get the full data view.
  • Topics that tend to get more news coverage and social media sharing may get favored. For example: health sciences, climate change, social media and the internet. 
  • A high Altmetric score does not distinguish between positive or negative attention, which is why it's important to look at the data behind the number.

What Article-Level Metrics Can I Get Out of Dimensions?

In Dimensions, you can get a Citations count based on publications in the Dimensions database, some additional citation metrics (see below), AND an Altmetric attention score. From the article record, you can view a list of citing papers, any supporting grants (with links to find more articles funded by that grant), as well as any linking patents, policy papers and clinical trials indexed in Dimensions. You can also link out to the Altmetric details page to find out where your article is getting attention from news, social media, etc. 

  • Dimensions currently indexes more than 90 million journal articles, as well as grants, patents, policy papers, and clinical trials. Dimensions and Altmetirc are both part of Digital Science.



How Do I Access Dimensions? Is it Free?

Go to to begin searching. Most of the Dimensions functionality is free, but UCSD has a license for Dimensions Plus, which has some added features, including:

  • Searching by research institution.
  • Accessing data on grants, clinical trials, and policy documents. In the free version, you can see the numbers as a preview

To access Dimensions Plus, go to Access Free App, then Login. On the Readcube screen, enter your email address to get routed back to single sign-on, where you'll enter your AD (active directory) password. Once logged in, you'll be able save and retreive searches.

What Else Can I Do With Dimensions?


You can analyze a set of search results or list of citing articles by researcher, research organization, publication type, or funder. Use the filters in the left column to limit your results. If there are more than 10 options, you can use "More" to enter an additional researcher, etc.


While logged in, you can save searches as Favorites, or export results for Excel or for visualizations using VOSviewer. No option to create email alerts.

Other Metrics:

  • Relative Citation Ratio - Calculated for PubMed-indexed articles at least two years old, the RCR is the relative citation performance compared to other articles in its research area (defined here as the articles cited alongside it). A value higher than 1.0 shows a citation rate above average.
  • Recent Citations - the number of citations received in the last two years.
  • Field Citation Ratio - Calculated for all Dimensions publications at least 2 years old and published after 1999, the FCR indicates the relative citation performance of an article, when compared with similarly-aged articles in its subject area. A value higher than 1.0 shows a higher than average citation performance.

What Else Should I Know About Dimensions?

  • Dimensions is still very new, which means they're still adding more content and features. It's not as strong for topic searching as Web of Science and other library-licensed databases, and it's hard to determine how frequently it is being updated..
  • For author searching, start with the Researcher filter and begin entering the name to limit the results. If there is more than one name match, you may need to view the results of each to confirm which is the UC San Diego researcher..

Where Can I Find Metrics for Preprints? What Happens When the Article Is Later Published?

Metrics about use or engagement with preprints may or may not be included with those of the final published article, depending on whether the article and preprint records are unified. If there are separate records and it is clear that the citing references or mentions are not getting counted twice, then it may be worth noting that particular preprint received additional notice before it was published in a journal. 


From the site where you posted your preprint, you may be able to get an Altmetric Attention Score, along with other data like abstract views and PDF downloads. For preprint servers like arXiv and SSRN that don't directly link to Altmetric, use the Bookmarklet.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar covers all of the major preprint sites, and a preprint should be unified with the published article if there is one. To confirm, check the list under "All ## versions" for the preprint copy. 

Web of Science

Web of Science does not index preprints (though INSPEC started indexing arXiv in 2015). However, you can use the Cited Reference Search to find citing references for your preprints, using the author and year fields. If you do find citations, don’t be surprised to see multiple variants for your preprint due to inconsistent citing, including typos with the preprint URLs.


Dimensions indexes preprints from SSRN (Social Sciences Research Network), bioRxiv, chemRxiv, and PeerJ. However, if the paper was subsequently published elsewhere, you may get two records (see example: bioXriv, Nature)

What Article-Level Metrics Can I Find on the Publisher Websites?

Along with the Altmetric attention score and details (either the embedded badge or using the Bookmarklet), the publisher may also provide.

  • Abstract views
  • Article views (HTML and PDF)
  • Usage may be total and/or broken out by time periods.
  • Links to citing articles in Web of Science, Google Scholar, CrossRef, and/or Scopus (preview of 20 maximum)
  • Article rankings. Some publishers identify articles that were the most read or downloaded over a given period of time: 30 days, 6 months, 12 months, and/or for a given calendar year. Updating frequency and author notification, if any, varies by publisher.
  • Attention data from Plum Analytics. This is primarily limited to Elsevier/Science Direct and the Cell Press journals.
  • Any article highlighting features. For example, American Chemical Society's Editors' Choice selects one article each day from an ACS journal, based on recommendations from the editors, and make that article open access. 

What metrics can I get out of eScholarship?

If you deposit copies of your article in eScholarship and other repositories, you can usually get data like views and downloads. When you include the DOI for the final published version, it also brings in the metrics from Altmetric and Dimensions.

What Article-Level Metrics Can I Get from the Subject-Specific Databases

Some of our more specialized databases also include any citing references also indexed in that database, similar to Web of Science. However, it's very likely that the citing references will already be identified in Web of Science or Google Scholar. One possible exception: the ProQuest databases, which including any citing dissertations from the Dissertations and Theses database, some of which may not be included in Google Scholar.