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Research impact & citation metrics

Bibliometrics & Altmetrics

 The impact of a research paper is assessed through the use of various metrics grouped into two sets :

1. Citation metrics or Bibliometrics 
They are commonly used as an indicator of the value of a research (article level), the productivity and impact of an author's scholarly output on the scientific research community (author level metrics), as well as the importance and prestige of a source (journal impact). 

Citation rates vary across disciplines, change over time and different publication types have different citation behaviors. For accuracy and fairness, citation data should be normalized by discipline, year and publication type, making it an unbiased indicator of impact (See : Normalized citations count)

2. Alternative metrics or Altmetrics
They are used to capture and measure online sharing, mentions, views and downloads of scholarly works in social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blog post and social bookmarks, etc. Compared to the core citation metrics mentioned above, Altmetrics are viewed as one of the ways to measure the immediate impact of a work, especially before citation based metrics are available in citation databases (See : PlumX metrics in Scopus). 

Each metric has its own limitations that need to be considered when selecting an appropriate metric for evaluation. Moreover, in terms of research quality, quantitative measurements are used along with other forms of qualitative measurement and assessment of research activity such as peers review, funding received, and awards granted.

Why citation analysis really matters? 

The benefits of using bibliometric data accrue to key stakeholders involved in the research assessment and evaluation process. 

Academic research institutions rankings
Bibliometrics are fundamental to all academic institutions planning a research strategy. They can be used to benchmark their overall research performance against the performance of research institutions nationally and internationally. Moreover, world university rankings consider bibliometrics to measure institutional research quality. QS ranking, for example, allocate a 20% weighting to "citations per faculty".   

Funding agencies
Funding agencies increasingly require detailed reporting on funded research which includes evidence of impact in terms of publication and dissemination of results.

Individual researchers
Individual researchers are commonly asked to demonstrate impact when applying for academic promotion or research grants. It is therefore important for researchers to be aware of the metrics and understand the issues related to it.