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Author Metrics

Citation Searching

Citation tracking is one way to assess the impact of articles in scholarly journals. An article is assessed by counting the number of times other authors mention it in their work. Researchers do citation analysis for several reason:

  • find out how much impact a particular article has had, by showing which other authors have cited the article in their own paper
  • find out how much impact a particular author has had by looking at the frequency and number of his/her total citations
  • discover more about the development of a field or topic (by reading the papers that cite a seminal work in that area)

Finding citations

There is no single citation anaylsis tool. The most comprehensive citation searching resources are:

  • Scopus (OU database) - heavily sciences less
  • Web of Science - (OU database) - social sciences, art & humanities
  • Google Scholar - all fiels, includes books and conference presentations
  • Discipline databases JSTOR, CINAHL ect.


While the resources are continually expanding their scope, no tool contains all articles and citations and one resource may perform much better for one researcher than another.

*Details on searching different databases view Who has cited my work guide.

Measuring citations

What is the h-index?

The h-index measures the impact of a particular researcher rather than a journal. It takes into account the number of papers published and the number of citations received by these papers resulting in a single number rating.

Limitations of h-indexhindex

  • Only calculates the h-index of an author based on the scholarly articles included in that database, so h-scores will be different per tool
  • Does not include books
  • H-index can not be compared across disciplines

*For more on citation analysis and h-index see the UIC Libraries guide.


Atricle level metrics and Altmetrics

Article level metrics (ALM) track the reach, use and reuse of research outcomes – from articles and figures to datasets and code – to help guide understanding of a work's influence.

Altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the social web for analyzing, and informing scholarship. Altmetrics data includes:

  • usage
  • social bookmarking and dissemination activity
  • citations
  • media and blog coverage
  • discussion activity and ratings

ALM and altmetrics can be tracked a number of ways, publishers often have author dashboards and will send regular updates about articles you have published with them. Online communities such as Academia also track and send updates.plum

Databases are starting to display ALM and altmetrics data along with article information. Scopus uses the Altmetric.com score, Ebsco databases now include PlumX Metrics. Different products uses different data points.

Tools:altmetrics score

>Altmetric.com browser bookmarklet - drag the “Altmetric It!” button into your browser menu bar, find your published article and click the button to display the altmetric information.

>Impact Story - a free tool supported in part by the NSF. You create a profile and track your almertic data.


Considerations about different metrics:

There is a lot of discussion in the scholarly community about how best to determine research impact. If a research article is published in the top journal that only a few universities can afford to subscribe to and gets 5 citations does it have a higher impact than if a research article is published in a 'lower tier' journal but gets 50 citations?

Perhaps this article is downloaded 100 times, viewed 1,000 times and is talked about by hundreds of people on twitter? Does it still have less impact than the top tier journal article?

Impact factors, h-index and other metrics are all attempts to measure research impact, which some feel equates to research quality. Combining these metrics will provide a more complete story, one that is unique to a researcher and may not easily be compared to another researcher, even within their own field.

Read more:


Measuring Research Impact

  • Author Metrics


Library Contact

Julia Rodriguez
Scholarly Communications Librarian

Created by Name / Updated on November 17, 2016 by Name

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