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Research Impact & Metrics

About Research Metrics

blue measuring tape image
The metrics listed below are what is currently available for measuring research impact. Generally, they should not be used to compare impact across disciplines. Nor should any one metric be used to make a judgement in cases of promotion and tenure.

There are many sources/databases for finding metrics. Each one will differ based on the journals indexed in that database, the dates of the journals indexed, and how complete the journal indexing is.

Author-Level Metrics

Author-level metrics measure your productivity and diversity of reach:

  • Scholarly output: How many publications have you written?
  • Journal count: In how many distinct journals or journal categories have you published?
  • What is your H-index?
    • H-index is an author-level metric that attempts to measure both the productivity and citation impact of the publications of a scientist or scholar. The definition of the index is that a scholar with an index of h has published h papers, each of which has been cited in other papers at least h times. It is believed by some that after 20 years of research, an h index of 20 is good, 40 is outstanding, 60 is truly exceptional. But comparing h-indexes should only be done at the discipline level.
  • How many times have you, as an author, been cited?

Some Useful Databases for Author-Level Metrics

Article-Level Metrics

Article-level metrics look at Citation Counts which can tell you:

  • how many times have your articles been cited?
  • what journals are they being cited in?
  • is the rate of citation steady over several years?

The sources in Author-Level Metrics above will also include citation counts.

Use our guide to Cited Reference Searching to learn about using Web of Science, Google Scholar, and other library databases for cited-reference searches.

Journal/Publisher Metrics

Journal or publisher metrics address prestige that particular publications are seen to carry. See sidebar to the left for information about limitations to the journal impact factor.

  • Journal Impact Factor          
    • Use Journal Citation Reports (video tutorial) to find the JIF used to rank journals. JIF is the ratio of the number of citations in the previous two years of the journal divided by the number of articles in those years = the average number of recent citations per article. It is important to note that only journals indexed in Web of Science are measured -- Web of Science journals are limited by discipline and type of journal. See below for "Using Journal Citation Reports."

  • CiteScore       
    • CiteScore is Scopus's method of measuring the citation impact of journals that are indexed in Scopus (which contains more journals than Web of Science). It calculates the average number of citations received in a calendar year by all items published in that journal in the preceding three years. Note: Because ODU does not have a subscription to Scopus, use of the CiteScore is limited. 

Other metrics available for journal impact:

  • SCImago Journal & Country Rank          
    • SCImago Journal & Country Rank includes the journals and country scientific indicators developed from the information contained in the Scopus® database.
  • Eigenfactor and Article Influence          
    • ranks the influence of journals and articles much as Google’s PageRank algorithm ranks the influence of web pages. By this approach, journals are considered to be influential if they are cited often by other influential journals.
  • Google Scholar Journal Metrics
    • See below for "Using Google Scholar Metrics."

Useful Databases with Journal Information

Using Journal Citation Reports

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) - See sidebar to the left for information about limitations to the journal impact factor.

1997 - Present (Restricted to ODU)

About Journal Citation Reports:

Impact Factors can be used to:

  • Identify journals in which to publish
  • Identify journals relevant to your research
  • Confirm the status of journals in which you have published

Things to Know:

  • Not all journals have impact factors, especially in the field of education and other humanities. Only journals that are indexed in Web of Knowledge have JCR impact factors.
  • A journal only has one impact factor, but it may be listed in multiple categories.
  • An impact factor should not be looked at in isolation, but in comparison to journals in that same category- impact factors vary across disciplines. 
  • One metric is not sufficient for evaluating an author's work.
  • The impact factor was originally devised to show the impact of a specific journal, not a specific scholar. The quality and impact of the author's work may extend beyond the impact of a particular journal.


  • Journal Impact Factor: In Journal Citation Reports (JCR), the impact factor measures the importance of a journal by calculating the times its articles are cited. The calculation is based on citations to articles from the most recent two years, divided by the total number of articles from the most recent two years.
  • 5-Year Journal Impact Factor: In JCR, citations to articles from the most recent five years, divided by the total number of articles from the most recent five years.
  • Journal Immediacy Index: In JCR, citations to articles from the current year, divided by the total number of articles from the current year.
  • Journal Cited Half-Life: For the current Journal Citation Reports year, the median age of journal articles cited.
  • Eigenfactor: Similar to the JCR Five-Year Impact Factor, but weeds out journal self-citations.
  • Article Influence: The Eigenfactor score divided by the number of articles published in the journal. Measures the average individual article in the journal (as opposed to the journal as a whole).

Using Google Scholar Metrics

Google Metrics assigns an h5-index to journals. The h5-index is based on how many articles that journal has published and how many times articles have been cited. For example, a publication with five articles cited by, respectively, 17, 9, 6, 3, and 2, has the h-index of 3.

To search for a specific journal, click on Top 100 Publications. Type your journal using the search icon at top right.

Things to Know:

  • Google Metrics covers articles published in the past 5 calendar years. The metrics are based on citations from all articles that were indexed in Google Scholar in a recent month. Example, citations dating between 2016 and 2020 from articles that were indexed in July 2021 are used to make up the journal's h-index and h5-median

For more information see Google Scholar Metrics.


ALTMETRICS (Alternative Metrics) allow us to measure and monitor the reach and impact of scholarship and research through online interactions (primarily social media), but also by noting when a work has been cited in organizational policy development.  Altmetrics are a complement to traditional metrics. Learn more at

altmetric icon

Altmetric is a web-based service that allows anyone to track, search, and measure the conversations about their research happening online on an article-by-article basis. You can download the Altmetric bookmarklet and click on it when you are on a journal article page (that includes a DOI).

The Bookmarklet only works on PubMed, arXiv or pages containing a DOI with Google Scholar friendly citation metadata.

Twitter mentions are only available for articles published since July 2011.

Many databases provide the Altmetric score for articles, and some show the score for journals (eg, Cabells).

Plumx icon


In ODU Digital Commons and other databases, PlumX metrics will be available for items with a DOI.  Find out how many publications have cited it, how many downloads and views, how many blog or social media mentions.

These are examples of publishers that have incorporated altmetrics into their websites, or are compatible with the Altmetric Bookmark.

  • PubMed (Medline and more)
  • Research Gate
  • LinkedIn
  • Mendeley

Download Counts

Download counts are also an alternative metric, in that they show how many people in the world are interested in your work. This will include students who will cite your work in their papers. It will also include scholars who download your work, read it, but don't end up citing it.

Share your work in the ODU Digital Commons, and receive monthly download reports.

Journals and articles from major publishers will also post download counts for the journal itself and individual articles. 

Book Metrics

Finding metrics for books and book chapters is more difficult than journal articles. Try these resources:

WorldCat Identities -- an experiment that has concluded but may offer some aggregated data about your books.


  • Metrics Toolkit  --  From the website: "The Metrics Toolkit is a resource for researchers and evaluators that provides guidance for demonstrating and evaluating claims of research impact."


Most Common Metrics

  • An h-index of 10 means that 10 of your articles have been cited at least 10 times. You may have 100 papers, and 4 of them have been cited 100 times, but only 10 of them have been cited at least 10 times. The h-index is also known as the Hirsch index and is a combined measure of both productivity and impact.
  • One caveat about the h-index is that it correlates with the length of a researcher's career (i.e., researchers who have been publishing for longer tend to have higher h-indices). It can also be inflated by self-citation. In addition, the h-index ignores the order of authorship, which is very important in some disciplines. Additionally, because different disciplines have different publishing practices, the h-index should not be used to compare researchers across different disciplines. Average impact scores vary widely from discipline to discipline. ​
  • h-index Prediction Tool: Predict what your h-index will be in the future.
  • h-index based upon data from the last 5 years
i-10 index
  • i-10 index is the number of articles by an author that have at least ten citations.
  • i-10 index was created by Google Scholar.
  • The Eigenfactor score is a measure of the number of times articles from the journal published in the past five years have been cited in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) year.

More Metrics:

  • weights highly-cited papers more heavily. An index of g means that your g most highly-cited articles together have at least g-squared citations. Your g-index will always be equal to or greater than your h-index.
  • (aka individual h-index) takes number of co-authors into account. Your hi-index is equal to your h-index divided by the average number of authors on the articles in your h core.
  • (aka contemporary h-index) weights newer articles more heavily than older articles, so that articles lose their value over time. This allows a clearer picture of more recent levels of productivity and impact.
  • takes differences in career length into account, by dividing your h-index by the number of years that you have been publishing.
  • the (square root) of the surplus of citations in the h-set beyond h2, i.e., beyond the theoretical minimum required to obtain a h-index of 'h'. The aim of the e-index is to differentiate between scientists with similar h-indices but different citation patterns.
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