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What are research metrics?

Research Metrics is the term given to a variety of statistics that measure usage of research publications.

Metrics can be used collectively to help indicate how widely a publication is being read, cited, borrowed and/or mentioned in the academic and publics sphere.

Although metrics offer a wealth of information about how research is being received, care should be taken when interpreting the data.

This page will highlight some recommended freely available sources of data on scholarly citations and other similar indicators of use of academic materials. 

Google Scholar

The service indexes across a wide range of sources from academic disciplines including academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other academic websites. As a consequence, citation counts in Google Scholar can often be much higher than other subscription-based citation indexing services.

A paper is ranked in part by how often and how recently it has been cited in other scholarly works also indexed by Google. Search results for individual papers include a total citation count with a link to view a list of all other citing papers.

Google Scholar Citations lets authors track citations to their own publications over time.

Bibliometrics basics! PowerPoint presentation


Altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship. As scholars increasingly move more of their academic activity to the web altmetrics offer complementary ways to measure research impact beyond the traditional methods such as peer review and citation counts. 

Altmetrics is summarized in: J. Priem, D. Taraborelli, P. Groth, C. Neylon (2010), Altmetrics: A manifesto, 26 October 2010.

Three example profile services, which make use of altmetrics are Impact StoryAltmetric, and Plum Analytics. Each service records and aggregates some or all of the following types of activity:

  • Scholarly usage data: Web-page views, PDF downloads
  • Scholarly reference: Bookmarking, shares and recommendations from CiteULike, Zotero, Mendeley
  • Mass media mentions: NY Times, BBC, The Washington Post
  • Social media mentions: Twitter, Facebook, Delicious
  • Data and code usage: Dryad, GitHub
  • Component mentions: SlideShare, Figshare

Groth P, Taylor M. (2013) Helping scholars tell their stories using altmetrics


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Emma Butler

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