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Research Impact Metrics

Key Questions (and where to find the answers on this guide).

What is the differences between bibliometrics and altmetrics?     

Bibliometrics are based on citation counts, the number of times were cited in other works. By works, we usually mean journal articles, conference papers, books, book chapters, and sometimes patents. Altmetrics (or "alternative metrics") look at online engagement beyond citation counts. This includes works that do get citations, and works that do not get citations or are not cited well (policy documents, presentations, software/code, etc.). More about the differences between bibliometrics and altmetrics.

Are there any concerns or caveats I should be aware of regarding metrics? For example, can they be gamed? Can I compare metrics with colleagues in my discipline or across disciplines?     

Why is it that when I look up one of my articles to see how many times it has been cited, Web of Science gives me one number, and Google Scholar gives me another?      

This is a very common occurrence. The two main reason it happens:
  1. Google Scholar indexes some sources that are not covered in Web of Science, including dissertations and books and journals outside of what is indexed in Web of Science
  2. Google Scholar indexes journal articles almost immediately after publication, while Web of Science doesn't index (in most cases) until the article has been assigned to a volume and issue. In many cases, the article that is citing your work just hasn't been indexed yet in Web of Science.
More about this on the Web of Sciences vs. Google Scholar tab in Article Metrics. There may be other factors, including cited reference variants in Web of Science, and duplicates in Google Scholar.

Can I get any metrics for my preprints?     

In some cases, yes. See the Metrics for Preprints tab under Article Metrics. Depending on the site, you can get metrics through Altmetric, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Dimensions. Some of these will treat the preprint and final published article as separate documents with their own metrics, rather merge everything as a single document.

What's an H-Index?     

An H-Index is a an author-level metric based on article-level metrics. It's based on the number of articles and number of times each article was cited. The H-Index is where these intersect.
  • If a researcher has 10 papers, and all have been cited at least 10 times, the H-Index is 10.
  • If the researcher has 40 papers, with one paper cited 100 times and then 9 that have been cited at least 10 times, the H-Index is still 10 (10 papers cited at least 10 times).
  • If the researcher with 40 papers now has 12 papers that have been cited at least 12 times (including the one with 100+ cites), the H-Index is 12.
The H-Index is an attempt to look at a researcher and their works over time. An early career research who has only been publishing for a few years will not have the same H-Index as one who as been in the same field for 20 or more years.

Can I track papers based on research funded by a particular grant?     

Some databases will allow you to track works by grant funding, assuming the grants are identified in the articles. This includes Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Dimensions.

Can I get any metrics for my department or research center?     

See Department-Level Metrics. Web of Science allows searching by address, which can be limited to a department or research center. You can do the same in Dimensions; however, you'll need to build a multi-author search (author 1 OR author 2 OR author 3....). Note that Web of Science address searches only work as well as researchers who correctly identify their department or center affiliation in their papers.

What is the difference between impact and metrics?     

Impact is the increase or improvement in desired outcomes, like advancement of knowledge, disciplinary or interdisciplinary dissemination, international reach, policy changes, economic benefit, and public/community outreach. The metrics are quantitative measures that, with qualitative information, can serve as indicators of impact.

What is the difference between Altmetric and Altmetrics?     

Altmetrics is the broader term for "alternative metrics," anything that is not based on journal and book citation metrics (bibliometrics). This includes social media attention and engagement, news coverage, downloads, views, shares, public attendance, and more qualitative sources like reviews and use in course syllabi. Altmetric is the specific company that tracks attention from a variety of sources and assigned a weighted Altmetric Attention Score (usually presented with a multicolored "donut"), with more detail about the sources behind that number.

Who can I contact for more assistance and training?     

Contact scholcomm@ucsd.edu for questions, consultations, or to schedule a workshop.