How Should You Measure Your Research Impact?

(2012) Altmetrics Collection. 2(19): ev02.i19. doi:10.1371/image.pcol.v02.i19


Publishers, funders, promotion committees and researchers use metrics–like impact factor or h-index–to assess how pivotal research was in a given community. Impact factor and h-index focus on how many people cite a particular paper after publication. In a nutshell, the more the paper is cited, the more impact it has.

Critics point out several issues with traditional metrics:

  • How do you account for journal/author self-citations?
  • How can citation counts measure whether a paper was well-received or criticized?
  • How can we measure impact of research data, not just the impact of a published paper?
  • How does publishing in open access journals affect impact metrics?
  • How can you measure whether research is ‘trending‘ or creates immediate impact–after all, the peer-review and publication process takes time?

New measurements, called altmetrics, attempt to solve these issues.

To learn more or contribute to the conversation, check out the National Information Standards Organization’s Initiative to establish new standards and tools to assess research impact.

To learn more about the development of altmetrics, check out the PLOS Altmetrics collection and CW Bailey’s bibliography.

To see current conversations, check out Mendeley’s #altmetrics group.


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