Research Impact

Measuring the value of research and scholarship is an important but extremely difficult to task.  Impact is best understood as a story–with many characters, settings, audiences, and lessons–that metrics help tell.  Metrics, such as citation analysis, help demonstrate value, but they can’t possibly make up the complete picture of any researcher’s impact nor any study’s value.  Impact, productivity, and performance are complex.  Relying on one single number or factor to assess any of these is problematic and very likely to be misleading.

Given the caveats above, the following are the most commonly used types of impact metrics, usually related to number of citations:

  • Journal-level metrics
  • Researcher-level metrics
  • Article-level metrics (usually in the sciences and social sciences)
  • Monograph-level metrics (usually in the humanities)
  • Alternative metrics (new developments in bibliometrics and scientometrics)
For more information on impact metrics, or for help with citation analysis, use the Research Impact Toolkit.  Bear in mind that most of the measures in the toolkit look at academics’ use of research.  Factors such as community impact or clinical impact are much more difficult to determine.