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Research Impact Metrics

Just What do We Mean by Impact or Metrics?

In general, impact or metrics data are used to demonstrate one's contribution to research and scholarly endeavors.  Whether one uses the term impact, metrics, impact metrics or something different, all of them are a way to try to quantify and enumerate the effect of a journal or an individual author's work. 

  • Research Impact is about identifying increases and improvements in desired outcomes, based on research outputs
    • Outcomes include advancement and diffusion of knowledge, economic benefits, clinical implementation, legislation, benefits to the public (including outreach/engagement and education).
    • Outputs are any scholarly, research or creative works where you are trying to determine what impact they have had. We most typically think of outputs as journal articles and books, but they can be considered more broadly to include any work where you want to receive credit for citations, uses, engagement, etc.
      • Patents
      • Performances, exhibitions
      • Policy papers
      • Presentations, lectures, posters
      • Protocols
      • Software, code
  • The Metrics are the data (quantitative and qualitative) that can serve as indicators of impact, not necessarily impact. A journal article can be very impactful and not heavily cited.
    • The availability of metrics for a particular output will vary on many factors, including the discipline, the type of output and available formats (print, online, print and online, or even in-person), and the age of the output.
    • There are metrics based on citations and cited references (bibliometrics) and metrics based on online engagement (altmetrics). There may also be qualitative information that can support or demonstrate impact, including book reviews.