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Researcher Skills Toolkit

Types of research metrics

Research metrics can broadly be divided into two types:

Citation metrics

Citation metrics include measures such as:

  • citation counts

  • average citation per publication

  • h-index and its derivatives

  • field weighted metrics

  • publications in top percentile percentiles

  • highly cited publications.

Citation metrics are only a small part of the scholarly ecosystem and represent one type of impact. There is increasing understanding that scholarly research has moved beyond the printed page and that traditional measures of impact are inadequate.

Alternative metrics

Alterative metrics attempt to provide a fuller picture of a researcher’s impact and influence and can measure how many times a research output has been shared, mentioned, or downloaded from online sources such as:

  • social media sites, including Twitter, blogs, FaceBook, LinkedIn
  • mainstream media and online news services
  • Wikipedia
  • policy documents
  • patents.
  • YouTube videos.

Alternative metrics are important as they include measures of works overlooked by traditional metrics, so they are an excellent alterative for humanities and social sciences.

Citation-based metrics and alterative metrics complement each another. It’s not a case of using one or the other – each measures impact in different contexts and audiences.

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