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Course & Subject Guides

Research Impact and Metrics

This Guide will provide you with information about bibliometric indicators of research impact and tools that you can use to access these indicators.

Article-level metrics

Citation-based and altmetric measures can show  impact of an individual research publication.  They can help answer the following questions:  

How many times was an article cited?  

How does it compare to other similar papers? (above/below expected count for its discipline, age or publishing outlet)

Is it in the top 0.1%, 1% or 5%, etc. in its discipline? (measure of excellence)

Is it gaining citations at an unusually rapid rate? (measure of early impact)

How it it tracking in social media? (possible indication of later citation performance) 

Citation-based article-level indicators

Citation Counts:

In Web of Science, you can see article-level metrics in the "Citation Network" panel (see the screenshot below).  You note that this article has been cited 5814 times (citation rate).   If the publication places in the top 1% of similar publications (defined by subject area and age), it is given a Highly Cited status (an indicator of excellence).  For exceptionally highly cited papers published within last two years, a Hot Paper status is awarded (a good indicator of early impact).  




If your publication does not have Highly Cited or Hot Paper badge, you can still benchmark its performance against similar documents.  Pitt's subscription to Web of Science, provides access to Essential Science Indicators (ESI) allowing you to understand baselines and citation distributions across across 22 subject categories for papers published in the last ten years.  The screenshots below show ESI baseline and percentile tables (updated for May 2019).  These tables are updated six times a year.  Access, up to date tables here.  Also, you can view a short tutorial on how to read and interpret the baselines tables here



Characteristics of Citing Articles: Often interesting information about the impact of a publication can be gleaned by analyzing characteristics of citing papers. 

In Web of Science, from the bibliographic detail page, you can follow the "Times Cited" link to generate a list of citing documents.  Then,  run "Analyze Results" function for a wealth of information about publications citing your paper.  You can understand geographic impact (countries, institutions and individuals citing your research), disciplinary impact (disciplinary mapping of papers citing your research) or range and impact of citing journals.  



Altmetrics - Non-citation based article-level indicators

Non-citation based indicators of impact (atlmetrics) can be grouped in a number of ways.  We can analyse the usage of the scholarly content measured by views and downloads (form a publisher website or a scholarly networking site) and captures (into a reference management tool).  Other attention can be measured by counting blog mentions or tweets or attention in press. 

Altmetric Bookmarklet is a free tool that can be installed on a browser's bookmarks toolbar. Click on the bookmarklet when on a webpage that has an article and it will display altmetric data for the work.

For more information please visit our page on Alternative Metrics.