Research Impact Guide

This guide serves as a starting point to understand, gather, and communicate indicators of research impact.


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Erin Owens
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ORCID: 0000-0001-9520-9314

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Maintain Perspective on Citation Counts

Citation behaviors (and thus citation rates) vary greatly between disciplines. Understand the normal citation patterns in your field to maintain the proper perspective on citations of your own work. 

For example, if your discipline places an emphasis on publishing books which may take ten years to garner a citation, you may be less concerned whether your book receives citations within one year of publication. On the other hand, if your discipline centers around the publication of journal articles, and the majority of research receives at least one citation within its first year, then you will have different expectations for your work. 

The article below explains more about the differences among disciplines in citation culture and citation rates.

Tracking and Analyzing Citations

Learn about some other articles that have cited your published article.

Google Scholar is vast but not necessarily comprehensive. If it includes your article, you will see how many citations you have had from other articles that are also included in Google Scholar. You may have been cited by additional works that are not included in Google Scholar. This is one source to use in compiling data on your published articles.

Publish or Perish is a FREE software package from Anne-Wil Harzing, Professor of International Management at Middlesex University, London. 

It leverages citation data from sources such as Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search, but lets you query and interact with that data in unique ways. Metrics available in Publish or Perish include total citations, average citations per paper or author, age-weighted citation rates, h-index, g-index, and more. 

The software can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X, or GNU/Linux.

Learn what other researchers are citing your published work to provide evidence of your impact as a researcher in your field.

Web of Science is not comprehensive. If the journal in which you published is included, then you will be able to find your article. If the other articles that cited you are also included in Web of Science, then you will see that those articles cited you. You may have been cited by additional works that are not included in Web of Science. This is just one source to include in your compilation of data on your published articles.

This video tutorial, created by the Georgia Institute of Technology, gives a brief demonstration of using Web of Science to do a Cited Reference Search (in other words, to find out who is citing your paper!).

The Analyze tool for the Citation Report in Web of Science provides several benefits: 

  1. See how a researcher’s work impacts different disciplines
  2. See who is citing important research to quickly identify collaboration opportunities
  3. Get insight into the journals that are citing researchers’ work to uncover additional publishing opportunities
  4. Analyze citation trends by date, institution, document type, and more!

The video below from Clarivate Analytics demonstrates how to use the Citation Report feature to search for works by an author (such as yourself!) and then analyze the papers that cite those works (including characteristics such as subjects, journals, authors, organizations, and countries). 


The Relative Citation Ratio (RCR) is a NIH metric representing a citation-based measure of scientific influence. The RCR normalizes the number of citations a work receives by taking into account the average number of citations received by works in that field.

This metric will only be available for works in PubMed from about 1995 onwards.

More information / analysis about RCR

Indicators Beyond Citations

Remember, the world of potential metrics is vast--citations are useful, but you don't have to restrict yourself to using only this metric to gauge the effectiveness of your research.


(click to enlarge infographic)

periodic table of scientometric indicators


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