Library

7 May 2015

Bibliometrics

Academic progression is intimately tied to the demonstration of impact in your field. Bibliometrics, while often flawed, provide an avenue for demonstrating impact. Some might say they are part of the bread and butter of academic research. Want to know more.... then read on.   By Penny Presta


Bibliometrics is a field that looks to analyse the impact of research using citation data. The basic premise is that the more people that use and cite a work, the higher the impact it is considered to have.
Impact alludes to the demonstrable contribution that research makes to society and advancement of a discipline.

What are Bibliometrics used for?
  • to identify high-quality papers amongst the sheer volume of research published in a field
  • to identify the publications considered to be most prominent in a discipline when deciding where to publish
  • as a means of identifying authors whose papers are influential when looking to collaborate
  • to contribute to informed decision-making by bodies that fund scientific research in a competitive research environment.
A complementary area is Altmetrics (also known as alternative metrics) which aim to measure the online activity associated with research outputs. This may include social media traffic or downloads.
Bibliometric outputs are created in different ways, all of which can have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on the objectives of your analysis. To avoid misuse it is important that they are employed based on an understanding of their limitations, and more importantly their use should be combined with methods of determining quality such as peer-review.

Journal impact
A commonly known metric is the Journal Impact Factor which is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited. Journal Impact Factors are only meaningful when comparing journals in the same field. The Eigenfactor is another tool for finding the impact of a journal or groups of journals. The Eigenfactor differs in that it counts citations across fields and eliminates self-citations.

Journal Impact Factors and the Eigenfactor (from 2007 onwards) can be found using Incites - Journal Citation Reports database.

Author impact
The h-index is a popular metric in the sciences that aims to capture the impact of a particular researcher. It can be calculated using the Web of Science Core Collection database. Citation counts are another measure of author impact and these can be found in Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science databases. Author impact metrics may be influenced by self-citing, and tend to favour those in a later stage of career and in fields that actively cite and publish.

Expert advice
The Library provides access to the main citation indexes utilised for Bibliometric research. See your subject librarian for advice on the options available, and for expert assistance in their access and use.
You may also like to consult the Research impact and publishing library guide for more information.

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