Journal and author bibliometrics

Bibliometrics is the quantitative analysis of research literature, based upon citations, and can be used to evaluate the impact on the academic community of a research paper, an individual researcher, a research group or institution, or a journal. The most commonly used bibliometric indicators are journal, article and author metrics.  Alternative metrics - known as Altmetrics - are now increasingly being used.

Why are bibliometrics important?

  • Bibliometrics can be used as an indication of the importance and impact of your work or that of a research group, department or university, and therefore of its value to the wider research community.
  • Applications for funding, research positions or promotion may require bibliometric data and you may choose to include it in your CV.
  • Bibliometrics are increasingly being used to measure and rank research output both within institutions and on a national or international level. University rankings may take bibliometrics into account and they are utilised in the Research Excellence Framework (REF).
  • Bibliometrics can be used as a tool to identify research strengths and inform decisions about future research interests.
  • They can help you to answer questions such as,  

     - How many citations have your publications have received and by whom?
     - Which journals are in the top quartile for your field?
     - What is the expected citation rate for papers in your subject field?
     - How does your department or centre compare to selected peer institutions in one or more subject categories?
     - Which institutions does your department/centre collaborate with overseas?

Journal metrics

The most common journal metrics sources are the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) from Clarivate and the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) from Scopus.  

In line with the University's position on responsible metrics, please note that the journal impact factor should only be used as an indication of a journal’s overall influence rather than the quality of individual papers or the work of specific individuals.  

Author and article metrics

  • Author metrics tell you what an author has published and how many times their outputs have been cited.
  • Article metrics typically look at the number of times an article has been cited. Some are a simple count of citations over the life of an article, others use algorithms to normalise an article within its subject category.  

There are multiple sources that will enable you to track an author and/or their outputs e.g. Scopus, Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar.  

Citation counts alone should not be used as the only measure of research quality. Different sources can produce different figures, and data should be used with caution, especially if comparing across disciplines.

  • The h-index is a way to characterise the scientific output of a researcher. It uses a calculation based on the citation rates of an author's published papers to attempt to measure both the productivity and impact of a researcher. You can see your h-index on Scopus and Web of Science

There will be variations in the h-index according to the bibliographic source or the search engine used to calculate it as the sources will only gather information from the journals they index.  An author's h-index is strongly influenced by discipline, publication volume and career length which makes it difficult to apply consistently.  

If you would like further help with any of the topics included here, please contact the Research Outputs team at