Bibliometrics and altmetrics

Bibliometrics is the analysis of research literature based on citations.

It can be used to show the value of research to your institution and funding bodies, to identify areas of research strength and weakness, to identify top journals and identify emerging areas of research. It can be used to locate potential collaborators or competitors. It is also used in rankings such as Times World University Rankings and QS rankings and by some panels in the REF so whatever your views on metrics it is worth finding out what is recorded about you.

Subject coverage does vary – arts and humanities has traditionally not been included in citation indices for example.


Scopus / Scival

Scopus and Scival from Elsevier currently have the contract to provide citation information for the Research Excellence Framework and the Times Higher and QS rankings. Scopus is an article database while Scival is a tool which uses the data from Scopus to allow comparison between universities and researchers along with other uses such as finding collaborators and looking at funding. You will need your university password to access Scopus off campus while Scival can only be used on campus.

Scopus for Researchers  | Sources indexed in Scopus | Scopus metrics - SNIP, SJR, CiteScore | Who is citing my work - Web of Science & Scopus |

Benchmarking yourself with Scival |Analysing a department with Scival | Scival Metrics Guidebook | Using Scival to find Economic Impact


 Web of Science / Journal Citation Reports / Incites

 Web of Science was the first database to offer citation searching as well as keyword searching. Originally by the Insitute of Scientific Information this suite of tools is now owned by Clarivate Analytics. The data from this produces the Impact Factor, one of the best known metrics, which is available in Journal Citation Reports. Incites is an analytical tool which uses the Web of Science Data to provide similar information to Scival. You will need your university username and password to access Web of Science of Campus. To use Journal Citation Reports and Incites you will need to register from a campus PC.

Who is citing my work: Web of Science and Scopus  | Journal Citation Reports |Incites training videos |Who is citing my work - alerts


Google Scholar / Publish or Perish

As Google Scholar is created without much human intervention the data is not as reliable as the two systems above and is not used in rankings etc. However, for subjects which are not covered by Scopus and WOS it can give some insight into who is citing you and can pick up citations to books and other non-journal material. If you create a Google Scholar Profile it will track citations for you. There is a piece of free software available - Harzing's Publish or Perish which can help you to pick up and analyse citations in Google Scholar.

Who is citing my work: Google Scholar | Publish or Perish


H index

You may have heard of the h-index, developed by Jorge E Hirsch at UCSD.  It attempts to measure both the productivity and impact of a researcher and is based on their most highly cited papers.

A researcher has index h if h of their papers have at least h citations each, and their other papers have no more than h citations each.

This formulation is intended to address the problems of other measures of citation count which can be skewed by large numbers of total publications or by an author being associated with a single highly influential paper.

The H index can be found in Scopus, Web of Science and via Google Scholar profiles though you will probably find that results differ since they are based on different datasets - a problem with metrics!



 Altmetrics are  new metrics based on social media. They are more immediate than citations but also more open to "gaming". Providers of altmetrics suggest that they are best thought of as indicators of engagement and attention. Reasons why you might want to consider altmetrics are to:

  • Discover who may be talking about your research online
  • Discover what is being said about similar research in your field (with a view to interesting them in your own research or evaluating its impact)
  • Compile evidence of research / impact either on a personal or a project level. Altmetrics are a measure of attention (not quality), which could also be said of traditional citation counts, so should be contextualized where possible.

 This Altmetrics presentation by Sam Oakley gives more detail.

Where can you find altmetrics? There are a number of commercial providers but there is also a lot freely available: