Skip to main content

Measure Research Impact and Quality

How to demonstrate impact

Increasingly researchers and academic research institutions are being asked to demonstrate the quality and impact of their research. Researchers are most commonly asked to demonstrate impact when applying for grant applications or promotions. Impact can be demonstrated in a number of ways from how often a publication has been cited to how much attention research has received in the wider community. 

This guide provides information on some of the methods currently in use and links to a range of online tools, training and resources.

  • Tools such as InCites and Scopus that can be used to create citation reports 
  • How these can create profiles of your research activities
  • Rankings and metrics that exist to measure the quality of publications such as journal impact
  • Alternative measures including measures of work often overlooked by traditional metrics 

Citation analysis

Citation analysis or bibliometrics examines the linkages between citing articles. This is used as a qualitative measure of impact, influence or quality. Citation analysis is frequently used for;

  • benchmarking and performance evaluation for individuals or groups
  • applications for grants, jobs and academic promotion

Key terms explained

Citations - references from one source to another. They represent linkages between two authored works and are commonly used to demonstrate research impact.  Citation report - a list of publications by an author, together with the number of times each document has been cited. 
Bibliometrics - the statistical analysis of texts and information e.g. measuring the number of citations an item has received  Citation index - a bibliographic database that indexes citations between publications. e.g. Web of Science
Author identifiers - unique identifiers that link all of an author's articles together, within a database. In some cases you will need to register, others will create an identifier automatically. ORCID - Open Researchers and Contributors ID is an initiative to link together all existing ID schemes. 
Scopus Author ID - the identifier automatically generated in Scopus Researcher ID - the identifier used in Clarivate's databases. Can be accessed via Researcher ID.com, Web of Science, InCites or EndNote Online. 
InCites - an online analytical tool that draws on the citation data from Clarivate's Web of Science to create in-depth reports for researchers and to benchmark groups and institutions. Publish or perish - open source software that analyses citation data from Google Scholar
Altmetrics - alternative metrics used to measure impact, commonly tracking media and social media mentions. Impact Factor - measure based on average number of times articles from a journal have been cited as calculated in (JCR) Journal Citation Reports
h-index - a measure used to quantify research impact, where h is equal to h number of articles being cited h or more times. Esteem measures - recognition of quality, indicating that a researcher is held in particularly high regards by peers in their discipline and/or other well qualified parties.