Uses of bibliometrics & altmetrics

There are many different metrics available, each using different calculations and data to assess different aspects of research publication. Some (like the Scimago Journal Rank or Impact Factor) are designed to help evaluate journals. Others, such as the field-weighted citation impact or the h-index are designed to help compare individual researchers.

It's important that you use the appropriate metric for the question you're trying to answer - for example the Journal Impact Factor was designed to help Librarians compare journals (by calculating the mean number of citations over a two year period) and can't tell you anything about individual articles or authors.

Elsevier have produced a useful guide that gives a good overview of some of the different metrics available and which ones can be used for different purposes.

Quick reference guide

Quick Reference Cards for Research Impact Metrics

Comparing journals

Metrics can't tell you which the 'best' journals are, but they can help you to identify journals which receive more attention on average than others (in the form of citations and online discussion).

Whilst publishing in a highly-cited or highly-discussed journal won't guarantee that your paper will be read, cited or shared, it can help to raise the profile of your work and boost your CV. Ultimately however, the decision of where to publish your work depends on many factors that are beyond the scope of metrics.

Finding highly discussed journals using Altmetric Explorer

Where to find these metrics

The University subscribes to a range of tools which can help you find highly cited or highly discussed journals.

Each tool indexes a different range of publications, and may therefore give different results (for example, Scopus and Journal Citation Reports may give different citation counts for the same journal, because of differences in coverage between the two providers). We therefore recommend that you use at least two in conjunction to provide an accurate assessment.

Promoting yourself and your research

Many academics list their h-index on their webpages and on their CVs as a form of self promotion. If you see this, it's important to remember that a researcher's h-index can vary depending on the database used to calculate it. For example, Google Scholar will almost always show a higher h-index than Web of Science or Scopus. This is due to the different sets of sources each database uses to track citations.

There are other bibliometrics that can also be used to promote yourself, such as percentile benchmarks (how your paper compares against similar papers), online scholarly commentary (blog posts etc. that have cited your work) and media mentions (your work has been picked up by a media outlet).

It's always useful to use several of these indicators to provide a rounded picture of your research.

Exploring your impact using Dimensions

Where to find these metrics

Assessing research performance/benchmarking

For help with these areas, please contact the Management information & benchmarking team in Research Services

Exploring your field and finding influential authors

Collaborating with other authors, particularly those at another institution, can be an effective way to raise your profile. You can use metrics to help identify hot-topics and rising stars in your field and see what people are citing and sharing.