Research metrics

From The Embassy of Good Science

Research metrics

What is this about?

Research metrics, or Bibliometrics, refers to the statistical analysis of published articles and journals and their citations. Analysis of research metrics can be at a journal level, article level or author level.[1][2] Altmetrics is an alternative approach to research metrics. It adopts an online approach, utilising social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

  1. Garfield E. Citation indexes for science; a new dimension in documentation through association of ideas. Science. 1955;122(3159):108-11.
  2. Yeung AWK, Heinrich M, Atanasov AG. Ethnopharmacology-A Bibliometric Analysis of a Field of Research Meandering Between Medicine and Food Science? Front Pharmacol. 2018;9(215).

Why is this important?

Research metrics are used to evaluate the popularity, impact and importance of individual scientists, articles and journals, as well as the performance of employees and projects. The logic behind such an approach is that cited items are perceived to have a bigger impact on science and are, therefore, of greater value. Consequently, research metrics can be employed as a basis of staff promotion and funding distribution. Bibliometrics are also used in research, when analyzing relationships between researchers, and when assessing the impact of research projects and grants.

For whom is this important?

What are the best practices?

On an individual level, the most important research metrics are the H-index and the i-10 index. The H-index, also known as Hirsch index, is an author level metric that shows how many articles have been cited a certain number of times. For example, a h-index of 10 shows that the author has 10 articles, each cited at least 10 times.[1] The i-10 index shows the number of articles an author has published with at least 10 citations.

On a journal level, the impact factor shows an average number of citations per article in two consecutive years.[2] Other famous journal metric systems are Eigenfactor and the SCImago Journal Rankings.

It is important to note that every metric system has its flaws. As a result, they should not be the only criterion when determining the quality and performance of a particular researcher, article, journal or research project.

  1. Diaz I, Cortey M, Olvera A, Segales J. Use of H-Index and Other Bibliometric Indicators to Evaluate Research Productivity Outcome on Swine Diseases. PLoS One. 2016;11(3).
  2. McVeigh ME, Mann SJ. The journal impact factor denominator: defining citable (counted) items. Jama. 2009;302(10):1107-9.

Other information