The goal of this guide is to assist faculty members, research staff, and graduate students in understanding how to use impact metrics tools currently available.
Considerations need to be made in regards to the role that the author, content, source, impact, ranking, and benchmark have on the research cycle.
Four main areas can be used to determine the impact of research:
Limitations on Impact Factors
With any statistical measurement, there willl always be limitations of the data. Things to keep in mind:
- Errors on citations can lead to multiple entries and missed citations.
- Author and institutional naming inconsistencies can lead to multiple entries and missed citations.
- Different databases use different sources to generate data. Some databases are more comprehensive than others.
- These tools are highly skewed toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, medicine) scholars.
- Citations do not measure the number of times a work has been read or accessed.
- Citations are not and should not be the only indicator of the importance of a work.
The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), run by the American Society for Cell Biology, has partnered with editors and publishers to ask the scientific community to stop misusing impact factors as a metric to judge scientific output.
Determining Impact from Metrics
Research impact is a measure of the significance and importance of academic work within a scholarly community.
Bibliometrics are the use of quantitative tools to study publications and other written material.
Citation metrics focus on the statistical patterns and measurements of citations.
Citation analysis can be used as a quantifiable measure of academic output and research impact, which can help inform decisions on publication, promotion, and tenure.
Altmetrics is increasingly becoming an alternative and important method of measuring the impact of scholarly output and allows for social media tracking by various indicators such as number of tweets, blog posts, likes, bookmarks, etc. and are more timely wider-ranging measures of how people—both other researchers and the general public have demonstrated interested in an individual's work and contributions.
This guide is designed to help faculty members, graduate students and librarians use and understand the citation analysis tools available to us. At UCLA, there is access to some of the major resources used for citation metrics, for example to obtain an Impact Factor (IF) you could consult the following tools -- Web of Science and Journal Citation Reports. Descriptions of and guides to these tools can be accessed using the above drop-down menu, organized according to need.
Tools and methods of citation analysis are used to determine:
- How many times a publication or author has been cited
- Who is citing a publication or author
- A journal's impact factor (relative importance in a field or discipline)
- An author's published output ranking in a field or discipline.
Because of the limitations of each method, it is important to use multiple methods, sources, and tools to get a fuller and more complete analysis. Increasingly, the research community is studying how to assess the value of cooperation and collaboration among colleagues, scholars and scientists, with barriers being reduced and geography more global. New metrics and values will likely emerge through different sources, to complement and extend already existing methods and products.