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Last Updated: Feb 12, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Why research metrics Print Page

Why measure research impact?

Quantitative methods such as citation counts, journal impact factors and researcher specific metrics such as the h-index provide one means of measuring research impact.

These research metrics can be used:

  • to support applications for grant funding
  • to support applications for promotion
  • by a researcher to maintain their own research profile
  • in Department and Faculty reviews and National Assessment exercises such as ERA

Research impact can also be demonstrated qualitatively in terms of social and cultural applications and measures of esteem: ARC Research Impact Principles and Framework


Metrics measuring research impact include:

Researcher metrics

  • Number of times a researcher is cited
  • Number of publications

Article Metrics

  • Number of times an article is cited
  • Altmetrics (eg page views, downloads and blog posts about an article)

Journal metrics

  • Number of articles published in a journal each year
  • Number of journals in a subject area
  • Half-life of journals
  • Cited half-life of journals

Issues to consider

Citation counts can be affected in a number of other ways:

  • No single source is comprehensive. 
  • Publication dates may affect your results. 
  • Frequency of a journal may affect results.
  • Highly cited articles don't always mean excellent research, esteem must also be taken in to account
  • Research measures across disciplines may differ

Further reading

Abbot, A. ...[et al]. (2010). Metrics: do metrics matter?  Nature 465, 860-862. doi: 10.1038/465860a

CORDIS (2011-2014) ACUMEN (Academic Careers Understood through Measurement and Norms) [Research project ] Retrieved from 

Bornmann, L. (2013). What is societal impact of research and how can it be assessed? a literature review. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 64,2 p. 217-233. doi: 10.1002/asi.22803

Donovan, C. (2011). State of the art in assessing research impact: introduction to a special issue. Research Evaluation 20,3 p. 175-179. doi: 10.3152/095820211X13118583635918

Lancho-Barrantes, B.S. (2010). What lies behind the averages and significance of citation indicators in different disciplines? Journal of Information Science 36,3 p371-382. doi: 10.1177/0165551510366077

Research Information Network. (2010). Managing research data: a guide to biocuration [Factsheet]. Retrieved from


    The purpose of this guide

    This guide presents the tools that are available to measure the quantitative and qualitative impact of research; as well as how to track researcher impact.


    Macquarie University Library


    How do I learn more about research impact?

    Questions about Research Metrics?

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    Research Consultations

    Contact your Research Librarians for assistance with:

    • assessing your research impact
    • using and comparing results from databases such as Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar
    • identifying highly ranked journals in your field

    MyRI - Measuring your Research Impact. A collaborative project of four Irish academic libraries producing a set of materials to support bibliometrics training.

    For assistance with research impact in the context of academic promotion at Macquarie, please visit the Academic Promotions page.


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