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Research Impact Metrics

Provides an overview of Research Impact Metrics

Purpose of guide

This guide presents the tools that are available to measure the quantitative and qualitative impact of researchers and research. 

Quantitative measures include h-index, citation counts, journals impact factors. Research impact can be demonstrated qualitatively in terms of social and cultural applications and measures of esteem.

Researcher and research metrics can be used to support: 

  • applications for grant funding
  • applications for promotion
  • your research profile
  • Department and Faculty reviews and National Assessment exercises such as ERA  

Key tools

Why do I need to know about impact metrics?

Impact metrics are used by faculty for evaluation purposes when granting tenure, promotions and research funding so it's important they are understood accurately and in context by administrators and faculty members who may not be familiar with a researcher's discipline or subdiscipline. (source: Meaningful Metrics, Chin Roemer &  Borchardt 2015)

The Australian Research Council stresses that: 

"There is an increasing focus on showcasing or measuring the societal benefits from research, and a need for better coordination in reporting and promoting the impact of these research outcomes. This will become increasingly important in a tight fiscal government environment where returns on investment in research will need to be demonstrated in terms of environmental, economic and social impact. For these reasons and others, key stakeholders including government, industry and the community require more information on the benefits derived from investment in Australian research activities."

(source: Australian Research Council website)

Levels of metric measurement

It is important to remember that no single metric measurement is all-encompassing.

Cite the metric measurement and tool you have used to ensure context. 

Output Metrics:

Journal quality & impact:

  • number of articles published in a journal each year
  • number of journals in a subject area
  • number of times a journal's articles have been cited
  • rankings and percentiles

Author Metrics:

  • Number of research outputs
  • Number of citations received
  • H-index
  • Number of research outputs in top citation percentiles and in top journal percentiles
  • Number of collaborations with international partners, interdisciplinary partners, or industry partners
  • Benchmarking against other researchers
  • Number of patents and/or number of research articles referenced by patents