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There are a wide variety of metrics used to measure the impact of research outputs. This page will present a few of the most common, but you can find out more about these and other metrics including how they are calculated and how they should be applied through The Metrics Toolkit.

Responsible Metrics

When considering the metrics below it must be remembered that the University of Cumbria is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DoRA). One of the principles on the declaration is that the content of a research output is much more important than publication metrics or the identity of the journal in which it was published.

The full declaration can be found here.

Author Metrics

Author metrics show an individual’s contribution to research through the number of articles, conference papers, books, or other outputs they have published. These metrics can demonstrate career development or support funding bids, but they should be used alongside other criteria. 

Types of author metrics include: 

Times cited: the number of times an article or other research output is cited by other articles or outputs within a database.   

h-index: is the number of papers ‘h’ that have been cited ‘h’ times. So, if you have an ‘h’ index of 15, you have 15 papers that have all been cited at least 15 times. It is a numerical indicator of how productive and influential a researcher is and can show the contribution the researcher has made to a particular field.  

Author metrics can be found in Google Scholar and Web of Science.

Journal Metrics

Journal metrics are measures of a journal’s citations. They can help you identify journals and decide where to publish. However, they vary enormously depending on the citation patterns within a discipline and should only be compared between journals within the same discipline. 

Types of journal metrics include: 

Journal Impact Factor (JIF): is the average number of citations for articles in a particular journal from the preceding years. It is equal to the number of citations received in a single year, for articles published in the journal during the preceding two years, divided by the total number of articles published in the journal during the preceding two years. It is based on publications indexed in Web of Science.  

Scimago Journal Rank (SJR): is the average number of ‘weighted’ citations received in a particular year by articles published in a given journal in the preceding three years based on journals indexed in Scopus. It is calculated annually. Access SJR here.

Alternative Metrics

Alternative metrics measure the usage of research and scientific results outside the traditional academic environment. They have been developed as a response to the limitations of the metrics mentioned above and are designed to complement these metrics, not replace them. Where traditional metrics use citation patterns to quantify impact, alternative metrics offer a qualitative approach. They look at how research is influencing policy, society, culture, environment, and technology. 

Altmetric is a free tool that tracks social media attention to research papers.

Further Advice

In the first instance please contact James Stephens, Head of Library Services, with any queries relating to research output metrics. 


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