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Bibliometrics and alternative metrics

Bibliometrics & alternative metrics

Bibliometrics and alternative metrics analyse research output quantitatively. They aim to be indicators of the value and impact of a publications, author or a journal.

Bibliometrics are largely based on counting citations and equate a higher number of citations to greater value and impact. However, citations do not simply equate to value; citations can be used to signpost discredited research. 

Moreover, citing doesn’t occur in a vacuum, citing is part of a complex process of academic reputation and career progression. When citations become a marker of research quality, they can be misused or abused (gamed). 

Alternative metrics are an attempt to quantify the attention paid to research papers from outside the academic literature.  These mentions of an academic work outside the academic literature are subject to similar caveats to citations – a social media post is not a simple indicator of value.

Neither bibliometrics nor alternative metrics provide a full picture of the value of a publication, author or a journal alone. They should be used in conjunction with other means of evaluation (e.g., peer review) and they might be more usefully termed quantitative research indicators.

Using bibliometrics and alternative metrics

You can use bibliometrics and alternative metrics about you and your work in any scenario where you are trying to demonstrate value and impact, such as funding bids, personal websites, job applications and CVs.

Your bibliometrics can be improved by ensuring that any research profiles, either that you have set up yourself or that exist in databases, have accurate information about you and include all your publications. For example, you may want to check:

When looking for journals to publish in, you can also use bibliometrics to establish the highest ranked journals in your field.

Bibliometrics and alternative metrics should be used cautiously.  As they have become more widespread calls for their responsible usage has gained traction.  These pages attempt to outline the concerns around specific metrics and the general usage of quantitative measures when evaluating research performance.


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