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Research Publishing & Impact: Citation Metrics

About Citation metrics

Citation metrics are based on the number of times a work is cited. So, the more citations a work has, potentially the greater the impact of the research.

Citation data is available from citation databases, discipline specific databases, and through an emerging range of alternative metrics.

Citation counts are not comparable across disciplines, e.g. citation counts in Social Sciences and Humanities are lower because researchers are more often publishing in books and conference papers that are not well covered by citation databases.

Alternative metrics can measure the broader, societal impact of your published work, eg, downloads or readings, tweets, reviews, or impact on communities, health, environmental benefits, commercialisation or economic value.

Why Citation metrics are so important

Cited reference searching is the process of seeking when an article, book, journal, or particular author is cited in another work. Gathering a work's citation impact can help the researcher:

  • determine the impact of an article, book, journal, or author in the research field
  • identify suitable journals in which to publish
  • monitor latest research in a particular field
  • build an impact narrative for PBRF
  • identify potential research partners.


Citation rates are linked to the engagement with or impact of a work, not necessarily its quality (i.e. an article of lower quality or with dubious findings might be cited frequently in works that aim to correct or build on the findings).

Citation metrics are only as good as the citation data indexed in each resource. No citation database indexes all published works, and no citation database covers all subject areas equally.

Keep a record/spreadsheet of all citations to your published work so you can build a sense of your research impact.

Citing databases

Article databases often have access to subsequent research that cites your paper/s. Look for the links to:

or check your Subject Guide for discipline-specific citation databases, e.g. SciFinder Scholar, CiteseerX

or check your Researcher Profile for tools that identify you as an author.

Alternative metrics

Altmetrics are alternative approaches to measuring the impact of a scholarly work, as demonstrated by users' interest in and engagement with it. Altmetrics track mentions of a work in social media outlets such as Twitter, blog posts, and research networking sites, plus use in newspapers or government policy documents. Altmetrics include the evidence of user activity tracked by publishers and indexing databases, such as PDF downloads, page views, and exports of citations to reference management systems.

Altmetrics aim to complement traditional research impact and quality measures, by showing a more complete picture of how readers engage with and use scholarly information.


  • Alternative metrics may not represent the quality of your work, or you as the researcher
  • Always look for qualitative comments as well

How do you measure usage of your published work, e.g. downloads or readings, tweets, reviews, or impact on communities, health, environmental benefits, commercialisation or economic value?

Investigate these:

Expand the audience for your research through professional social networks. Create a profile to list and share your publications and other research outputs.These networks provide altmetrics about who is reading and sharing your research and where online communication about it occurs. See Researcher Networks