Skip to Main Content

Research Metrics

A guide to help understand the different sources used for research metrics

Research metrics

Research metrics provide one way to measure the impact of your work. They provide evidence of your performance in your field, and can help to describe your contribution and value to the University and broader society. You can use research metrics to provide supporting evidence for grants and promotions, to help with your publishing strategy, to benchmark with peers, and to build a researcher profile. You can also use research metrics to identify potential collaborators and research gaps or trends in your field.

Different research metrics and what they mean

An author-level metric calculated from the count of citations to an author’s, or group of authors, publications.

Read more about the h-index (also called the Hirsch index).

Hirsch intended the h-index to address the main disadvantages of other bibliometric indicators, such as total number of papers or total number of citations. Total number of papers does not account for the quality of scientific publications, while total number of citations can be disproportionately affected by participation in a single publication of major influence (for instance, methodological papers proposing successful new techniques, methods or approximations, which can generate a large number of citations), or having many publications with few citations each. The h-index is intended to measure simultaneously the quality and quantity of scientific output.

The Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is a measure reflecting the annual average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal.

Read more on journal impact factors.

The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a scientometric index that reflects the yearly average number of citations that recent articles published in a given journal received. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field; journals with higher impact factors are often deemed to be more important than those with lower ones.

The impact factor is used to compare different journals within a certain field.

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, August 20). Impact factor. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved  September 3, 2019, from

We use InCites Journal Citation Reports, available through the Web of Science and/or Scopus. Both are available through our A-Z list of databases.

The journal acceptance rate is the percentage of manuscripts accepted for publication, compared to all manuscripts submitted.

For more information on the journal acceptance rate.

The number of times that a journal article or preprint has appeared in the reference list of other articles and books.

Visit Article citations for more information.

The number of times that a book or chapter has appeared in the reference list of other articles and books.

For more information, visit Book and book chapter citations.

The number of times a journal article or book has referenced a data set.

Read more on data citations.

File downloads over a period of time.

Read more on software downloads.

Github “Forks” are created when a user makes a copy of a repository (i.e., a group of files). A “collaborator” is another Github user who is able to perform many actions on the files within the repository, including edits. “Watchers” are Github users who have asked to be notified of activity in a repository, but have not become collaborators. Watching a repository is similar to following an RSS feed to see changes.

Read more about Github.

The Altmetric Attention Score is an automatically calculated, weighted count of all of the attention a research output has received [online, in sources tracked by Altmetric].

For more information on the AAS, please visit Altmetric Attention Score

The number of times a piece of software or code (or a paper that describes software or code) has been cited as a resource in a journal article or book.

Read more on software citations.

A download is an event triggered by a user clicking on the download button, in contrast to simply viewing a web page.

For more information on article downloads.

For more information on books and book chapter downloads.

Comments, likes, and shares are user-generated actions that can be taken on Facebook posts.

Read more about Facebook metrics.

X (formerly Twitter) mentions include posts and retweets that reference a trackable scholarly product.

For more information on X mentions as a research metric.

The number of times a scholarly output has been linked to from a blog.

Read more at Blog Mentions

Mendeley readers is the number of Mendeley users that have added a particular document to a Mendeley library.  Aggregated demographic information, such as geographic location and discipline for Mendeley readers, are also available.

More information on Mendeley readers.


Wikipedia citations are references to scholarly outputs in Wikipedia articles, which are linked to in order to support the the entry’s claims.

For more information on Wikipedia citations.

Goodreads users rate books on a scale from 1-5 stars and offer their personal review and commentary.

For more information on goodreads

The number of libraries that own (“hold”) a book.

Read more on monograph holdings as a research metric.

Sales figures record the number of times a book has been purchased.  Sales ranking is a derivative metric that demonstrates how well a book is selling in comparison to other books.

For more information on monograph sales and rankings.


News mentions are the number of mainstream online news and magazine outlets that reference a research output.

Read more about news mentions.

 The number of times a research output has been cited in policy documents from government bodies or NGOs.

Read more about policy mentions as a research metric.

The Publons Score reflects the average 0-10 rating a paper indexed in Publons received in two dimensions, “quality” and “significance”.  The scores are generated by registered Publons members. Publons is a service that allows researchers to share and receive credit for their peer review and editorial contributions.  As such, it is useful to authors as a potential source of pre and post publication peer review information on their paper.

For more information on the Publons score.

Pubpeer is a post-publication peer review platform.  The full text of comments submitted by registered and unregistered users are publicly available.

For more information on Pubpeer comments.

A field-normalized indicator of influence, used by the NIH (National Institute of Health) for evaluating the relative merits of biomedical research articles.

Read more about the relative citation ratio.

Report a problem