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Edmon Low Library

Research Impact Tools

Research impact information can assist individuals in activities such as quantifying return on research investment, making a case for promotion and tenure, and managing their scholarly reputation. At the institutional level, this data can help with recruitment efforts as well as developing an overall sense of the strengths and expertise within the organization. Key components of research impact:

  • Scholarly impact presents a composite view of all of the elements, both traditional (citations) and non-traditional (social media mentions) that comprise a snapshot of a researcher’s impact within his/her field across time
  • There is no perfect method or tool that captures all of these elements so it is important to consult a wide array of resource
  • Each discipline may view impact differently, and it is important to situate qualitative and quantitative information within this broader context

What is altmetrics?

Recent trends in open access, scholarly communication, and open data movements have given rise to new ways of measuring the impact of research. These new methods, termed "altmetrics" or alternative metrics, are ways to measure the impact of your scholarship beyond the traditional measures such as number of citations or journal impact factor. Almetrics seek to tell the "story" of how your research is found, discussed and applied once it has  been made available. This article from SPARC breaks down all of the various issues related to this new area.

Altmetrics are still very new and there is no one standard way in which this information is analyzed and evaluated. There is also a debate regarding the reliability of altmetrics when pointing to sources such as blogs and websites that may not yet be considered mainstream as indicators of quality of research and can be subject to manipulation and commercialization. It will take a more longitudinal approach to collecting data in this manner before it becomes synthesized into faculty tenure processes in higher education as a widely accepted measure of a researcher's influence in his or her respective field.

What about Impact Factor?

Typically, the higher impact factor, the more prestige or influence is associated with a particular journal. The more times an article is cited, it is typically considered more prestigious. Impact factors measure the average number of citations received per article published a particular journal during preceding two years. It has been used to compare the importance of different journals when considering avenues for publication and also to judge the importance of a scholar’s work for tenure or other related processes. We do not contend here to discuss the merits of these activities, merely explain them. There are limitations to impact factors however. The way in which an impact factor is determined is not entirely transparent. Citation quantity does not necessarily point to importance if, for example, an article was cited 100 times but it was deemed to be erroneous or otherwise unusable and it was used as an example of what NOT to do, then certainly quantity of citations in this regard would not be an indicator of quality. In addition, it is not easily reproducible, varies between disciplines and can be manipulated. Finally, while it may provide some information about the journal itself, it is difficult to extrapolate this value down to the article and author levels.

There are some additional metrics which attempt to look at a more individual level:

  • H-Index was developed by J.E. Hirsch and attempts to measure the scientific productivity and  impact of a researcher. It can be found in various resources such as the Scopus database and Google Scholar
  • A complete list of metrics can be found on the NCSU Libraries website

Four research impact tools are currently available to OSU faculty. You can find training material for each of these products on the Library website, and liaison librarians are available to provide in-depth instruction by request

  • SciVal by Scopus: A powerful and flexible ready-to-use solution, SciVal enables you to visualize research performance, benchmark relative to peers, develop collaborative partnerships and analyze research trends.
  • Google Scholar Citations: A free service, which is quickly gaining functionality, it tracks academic articles, but it also counts theses, book titles and other documents towards author citation metrics.

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We look forward to hearing more about your experience with these tools

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