Metrics Quick Guide

In keeping with the principle of Responsible Metrics, it is important to state a single metric should never be used as a surrogate measure of the quality of research, but instead should be considered alongside a range of relevant research metrics, outputs and other types of qualitative factors.

Please also bear in mind the following considerations when using Bibliometric Research Metrics:

  • The databases that supply data for citation counting and bibliometric data differ in coverage, each indexing different journals and books. Hence results will vary depending on the data source used.
  • Disciplines vary in their publication and citation practices.  Certain disciplines have higher citation norms compared to others, and hence it is important to compare researchers within their discipline areas. 
  • Bibliometrics focus on measurement of citations, mostly in journal articles. Disciplines such as arts and humanities and social sciences rely less on journal publications and hence may be misrepresented by bibliographic metrics alone.
  • Citation counting will automatically favour experienced researchers over those at an earlier stage in their career as they will have produced a greater number of outputs.  Only researchers at similar career stages should be compared.
  • Metrics include self-citing, so it is important to compare like with like.
  • Keep in mind not all citations are positive - a paper may be cited because it is an example of ‘bad’ research.

Research Metrics Quick Guide

The table below showcases a range of different bibliometric research metrics commonly used and their definitions. Download a copy of the Quick Reference Cards for Research Impact Metrics .

Research Infographic Research Infographic B