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Bibliometrics and Citation Analysis : About This Guide

Resources to help researchers measure journal, article, and author impact factors. Includes traditional citation evaluation as well as alternative methods.

What are bibliometrics and why are they important?



What are bibliometrics?

Data from citation indexes can be analyzed to determine the popularity and impact of specific articles, authors, and publications.

Why are they important?

Using citation analysis to gauge the importance of one's work, for example, is a significant part of the tenure review process. Information scientists also use citation analysis to quantitatively assess the core journal titles and watershed publications in particular disciplines; interrelationships between authors from different institutions and schools of thought; and related data about the sociology of academia.

How do bibliometrics affect me as an author?

Hiring, advancment, tenure:

Author metrics, such as H-index, give you a way to measure the impact of your research. For many jobs in science academia, author metrics are used to screen applicants, and as criteria for promotion.

Altmetrics - measuring impact via social media - can help you get immediate feedback on the effect your research is having on the scientific community.

Grant applications:

Citation metrics can affect funding for you, for your department, and even for your university. Funding agencies are increasingly requiring evidence of publishing impact.

Locating journals to publish in:

Journal metrics can help you decide which journal to publish in. Selecting the right journal can help improve your author metrics - your paper may receive more citations if you are published in a journal with a high impact factor.  


How do bibliometrics affect me as a researcher?

Find articles on your topic:

"Cited By" features offered in Web of Science and Google Scholar can help you discover newly published research being done on your topic.

Identify seminal research:

Knowing how many times a paper has been cited can help you evaluate the importance of that paper. In additon to tools like Web of Science and Google Scholar, altmetrics is emerging as a way to evaluate the online social impact that an article or author is having.

Locating journals to read:

Journal impact factor tools like Journal Citation Report can help you identify leading journals in a field.


Things to keep in mind

  • Being highly cited does not make an article credible. Some articles are highly cited because the research they are presenting is being questioned.
  • Review articles tend to be more highly cited than primary research articles.
  • Just because an article is not cited does not mean it is not widely read.
  • Citations take time to accrue.
  • Self citation can affect metrics.
  • Career length can also affect metrics.
  • Citation comparisons are only meaningful if comparing like with like - researchers in the same field of research and at similar career stages.