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Scholarly Communication

This guide contains information about scholarly communication issues and challenges, including open access, author rights, copyright and institutional repositories

Research Metrics and Impact of Scholarship



This was a presentation given to the Junior Faculty Learning Community in Spring 2020.

Ways to Measure Impact

Journal Rankings - Impact Factor

Impact factor is a metric used to evaluate the importance of a journal to its discipline or field. It measures how often scholars and researchers have cited articles in a particular journal in the most recent two years and is calculated by dividing the number times articles were cited by the total number of articles published in that same journal for the time period. Journal impact factor only applies to a journal or groups of journals and cannot be used to measure the impact of individual articles or researchers and should only be used to compare journals in the same subject area. 


Citation Analysis

Citation analysis is a quantifiable way to measure the academic output and impact of an article or an author based on the number of times these works or authors have been cited by others. There are several different tools that can be used to explore citation metrics: 

h-index:  The h-index is an index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output (J.E. Hirsch). 
  • There are several databases (Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar) that will provide an h-index for an individual based on publications indexed in the tools. 

Alternate Metrics (Altmetrics)

Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, are measures of social and public impact of research that complement traditional citation-based measures. Altmetrics aim to measure web and social media-based scholarly interactions. Examples of types of altmetrics include: 

  • Usage: How many times was your work downloaded, viewed or clicked on?
  • Captures: How many times has your work been bookmarked or favorited? 
  • Mentions: How many times was your work mentioned on blogs, Wikipedia, or news sites? 
  • Social Media: How many times was your work shared on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter? 

Why use altmetrics? 

  • Provide a way to assess the immediate impact of your research.
  • Help create a broader picture of the impact of your research from a variety of sources.
  • Can measure the impact of other types of scholarship besides articles and books.
  • Can offer contextual information about who is engaging with your research. 

What are the limitations of altmetrics?

  • They measure the attention that research is receiving (popularity), but they don't necessarily measure quality.
  • Altmetrics are still a relatively new trend in measuring impact, and as such, there are a variety of different tools, none of which comprehensively choose and gather from the same sources of data.

PlumX metrics (alternate metrics; product of Elsevier) are available to Rowan users for articles/content via Scopus and Rowan Digital Works

Altmetrics Tools


ImpactStory is an altmetric aggregator that collects data from a variety of research products. It costs $60/year but you can try it for free for 30 days.

Altmetric resources