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Research Impact Metrics

This section includes some good practices and strategies as you being to collect and track your metrics, to use now or later.

Identify Your Priorities

Before you start looking for metrics or other information to support writing about your impact, it is important to identify your priorities, so that you know what you need to collect:

  • Where are you in your career?
  • What is the story you want to tell about your impact?  What statements do you need to support with evidence or indicators?
  • How are your goals aligning with the mission of the department and university? Do they value what you value?
  • Why do you need to write about your impact?  Is this for a promotion and tenure file, grant application, research center annual report, etc.?
  • What research outputs and activities are you focusing on?

Choosing the Appropriate Metrics (and Tools)

It is important to select the appropriate metrics for the case you want to make, which in turn will help you select the appropriate tools for locating those metrics. For example, if you want to write about how your work has expanded knowledge within your field, then your journal articles getting cited in journals and other scholarly publications is something you will want to track. However, citations in the journal literature will not be as useful when writing about your outreach and public engagement. For this, news coverage, social media mentions, video views, and interviews could serve as better indicators. 

The Metrics Toolkit is an excellent starting place to help you match impact, research output, and discipline to identify metrics and tools, as well as limitations and both appropriate and inappropriate use cases.

Impact Research Object Discipline

Attention, Reach or Diffusion
Cultural Impact
Disciplinary Influence
Interdisciplinary Influence

Book Chapters
Journal Articles
Arts & Humanities
Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics
Social Sciences


Another helpful resource is the Becker Medical Library Model for Assessment of Research Impact, which is organized by the following diffusion pathways: Advancement of Knowledge, Clinical Implementation, Community Benefit, Legislation and Policy, and Economic Benefit. From there it's organized by indicators and potential evidence. Some of the examples are obviously centered on outputs and impacts related to biomedical sciences, while others apply to all disciplines.

Where Do I Start With Gathering Metrics?

Start with Google Scholar, Researcher ID, and ORCID 

Set up your Google Scholar and (if you choose) ResearcherID profiles to collect citation metrics from Google Scholar and Web of Science, respectively. You also build your scholarly identity (along with ORCID) by creating a publications list of all your works, and only your works. You have the option of setting any or all of these profiles public or private. For the most discoverability of your work, consider making at least the Google Scholar profile public.

  • In Google Scholar, go to My Profile and login with your personal Google credentials. Do not login to your UC San Diego Google account with Active Directory.  If you use a UC San Diego Google account, you run the risk of losing access to your profile if you leave the university. Then follow the instructions to add to your publications list. You can run searches in Google Scholar and select your works to add, as well as add works manually. If you want to add presentations and other non-cited works to create a more complete profile, these will not affect the H-Index. In the Profile, you can add your work email so users who come across your profile will see that your account is verified for UC San Diego.
  • In ORCID, register for an ORCID number. Increasingly, publishers are requiring that one or more authors on a paper have an ORCID.
  • For ResearcherID, go to Web of Science and then Tools to select. You can use your Web of Science username and password to register. To build your publication list, you can search and select from Web of Science or your EndNote account, or upload an RIS file. You can also your ORCID to connect the 2 accounts. 

Monitor and Track

Before you actually have to write about your impact there are steps you can take to begin gathering this data, or at least make sure the data is being collected. Most of these activities can be run periodically or occasionally, or set up to run automatically.


  • Review your Google Scholar Profile to make sure all works are showing up, and to remove any works that are not yours. Do the same with ORCID. With ResearcherID, new publications are not added automatically, so you'll need to search from Web of Science and select the "Save to ReferenceID" option.
  • Run an author search in Web of Science to check for Highly Cited or Hot Papers. The Hot Papers are updated every two months.
  • Run a Cited Reference Search in Web of Science to identify any Cited Reference Variants that can be reported and matched up with your "citations of record," and increase the Times Cited Count. This is also something we can help you with.


  • Set up a Google News alert to track mentions of your name.
  • Consider setting up an alert as well in Google Scholar, if you want to track mentions of your name in articles and other works outside of the references and bibliographies (acknowledgements, for example).
  • You can set up alerts in Google Scholar and Web of Science, when your work is cited. However, you will have to create an alert for each work.
  • You can also set up alerts with Altmetric, to track mentions of your work in the sources they cover, such as news and social media. There is an alert option on each Altmetric details page. Multiple alerts are combined into a single daily email, as long as one of your works was mentioned in a 24-hour period.
  • Monitor for time-sensitive information, such as "most read" or "most downloaded" in a given period. You could also check with the journal publishers to see what they can provide. Some information like number of downloads often appear on the journal articles, which you can screenshot or possibly download.
  • What usage data can you pull from sites where you have uploaded content, including YouTube, Slideshare, FigShare, and Github? Most provide cumulative data, but is there also yearly data as well?
  • For in-person events, count the attendees.
  • Hang on to any qualitative feedback, such as emails, so you can find them when you need to refer back to them later.


  • However you store this data is up to you. Using a spreadsheet to track citation data is one possibility. 
  • While you can track your own Altmetric data for each work, we can assist you with a more macro view of your attentions, searching and exporting Altmetric data for up to 50 research outputs at a time.