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Research Metrics

What are metrics

Research metrics, sometimes called bibliometrics, are often used as a measure of quality or impact of research outputs. There are many different metrics used to measure the influence of journals, and understanding their definitions, uses and limitations will help you make decisions about where you publish your research. Knowing the impact of your research can be invaluable when you’re applying for funding, seeking a new position or working towards a promotion.

Metrics are relative to a discipline. Different disciplines have different rates of publication, and so therefore have different metrics. The sciences will often have larger metric numbers than the arts and humanities.

Metrics can broadly be broken up into 4 categories:

  • publications and citation metrics
  • collaboration metrics
  • societal impact metrics
  • benchmarking

Each of these types of metrics will be examined in this guide.

Data sources for metrics

Metrics can be drawn from a wide variety of different data sources.

Data sources are:


Scopus (Elsevier) – Abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature on fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences and arts and humanities. Includes books, journals, online tools, bibliographic databases and newsletters. Provides tools to track, analyse and visualise research.


SciVal (Elsevier) – Using data from Scopus, SciVal provides more advanced bibliometric measures than those available in Scopus and Web of Science.  SciVal also allows you to benchmark individual researchers, groups and institutions, as well as look at existing and potential collaborations.

Web of Science

Web of Science (Thomsen Reuters) – Previously known as ISI Web of Knowledge, this database provides a collection of full text and citation index information gathered from scholarly journals, books, book series, reports and conferences.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar – Search tool for full text and citations of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories and universities.       

altmetrics – Provides altmetric data to track and analyse the online activity around scholarly literature.


ORCID – Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from other researchers and supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities.  Unlike ResearcherID and Scopus Author Identifier, ORCID is not limited by a commercial citation database provider.


PlumX – PlumX Metrics provide insights into the ways people interact with individual pieces of research output (articles, conference proceedings, book chapters, and many more) in the online environment, for example in the library's Discover! search.


This LibGuide is based on the excellent guide Research Metrics from the Library at the University of the Sunshine Coast.  Many thanks to Rebecca Cooke for kind permission to reuse this guide.

The Library, Limerick Institute of Technology